Race Ethnicity and Difference Essay

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Race and Ethnicity


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What is multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism is an ideology which is defined in different ways following in the varying paradigms of one's culture and knowledge. However, it is generally explained as a system of beliefs which recognizes and appreciated diversity of groups in a society or in any organization. In t his regard, it also acknowledge these difference particularly the socio-cultural disparity thereby stressing upon its impact in a culture as it empowers the whole society. Multiculturalism is all about recognizing the difference and respecting them. In other words, this points out to the equal treatment of every human being regardless of any distinction based on color, race, religion, gender and culture. It aims at safeguarding and building up the integrity and dignity of these differences so that they are tolerated and celebrated (Rosado C, 1997).


Multiculturalism is feature of globalization as well as post colonialism. This is because of the shifts in power and culture seen globally. Globalization has enabled the transformation of previous homogenous societies into places which are a mixture of ethnic, religious and racial groups. These differences as put across by Benwell (2006, p.12) have become a challenged for the political as well as the cultural system to accommodate as well as integrate this diversity. This concept emerged because of the role played by a number of actors and events such as the post world war II period, the church, the government policies, immigration policies and the way migration took place and the issue of assimilation arose.

Since immigration is one of the most important determinants in the development of the ideology of multiculturalism, the Global Commission on International Migration highlights that in 2005, there were approximately 191 million migrants present in the whole world. Today, this number has increased to 214 million. Data also reveals that Europe hosted almost 72.1 million migrant populations in the year 2010 where the Russian Federation, Germany and United Kingdom account for the largest number of migrants in the European region (UN DESA, 2008). The rise in the number of migrants throughout the world also shows that several countries have served as a country of origin and also a host for the migrants. However, this issue is becoming complex with time thereby becoming a challenge and a matter of global concern. This is because of the progress of this ideology which is becoming dead with time.

The challenges and problems of migration often overshadow its positive side. For instance, the irregular immigration becomes a problem for the immigrants as well as the countries where they currently choose to reside. This is because it is directly linked to human security. Apart from the illegal immigrants, individuals who are migrating for working in the sex industry, marriage or labor, are often subject to exploitation and social isolation. This is commonly true for women who are vulnerable to such a menace. Consequently, these migrants face the greater risk of developing HIV or AIDs, being sex slaves, harming their health and, the overall well-being and safety of these immigrants become a problem. Furthermore, migration also poses the threat of security. This is evident in the case of Muslims who have become a part of international attention basically after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also, their lies a great concern regarding the rights of migrants. Immigrants are often subject to racism and discrimination being developed in the walls of xenophobia on the basis of culture, religion, ethnicity and their origin (Peberdy S., 2005). As a result, these individuals have to struggle with their jobs, their family, their religious practices and other realms of life when they are often deprived of benefits which the local population of the host country enjoys. This failure in integrating the immigrants into the host culture has resulted in the collapse of multiculturalism.

The failure of Multiculturalism

The explicit efforts to integrate or assimilate the differences have not been yet effective and neither is being promoted by several countries. This makes one think whether the ideology of multiculturalism dead and is it that the phenomenon is a failure? In response to this thought, while describing the meaning of the failure or the death of multiculturalism, it is important to understand it in regard to its actual meaning. Multiculturalism is all about accepting diversity. In other words, it means that multicultural societies must provide equal opportunity to every human regardless of his religion, race and gender. Moreover, multicultural societies are classified as those putting in an effort to integrate the immigrants and therefore develop such immigration policies (Padolsky E, 2001). Despite this, it is pretty evident from the case of Italy where at one hand it emphasizes on integration, while on the other its ruler is against such immigration policies. Similarly, the Scandinavian countries are also seen to have failed immigration policies. Despite this, multiculturalism is not about the melting pot theory which supports assimilation; to become similar like the dominant culture. In other words, the ideology of multiculturalism opposes the idea of the dominant white culture as seen in America and therefore stresses upon the cultural pluralism. This theory sees a society with many diverse cultures coexisting and living peacefully side by side (Brooker, 1999)

Although peace, tolerance and accepting the diversity are amongst the major focus of multiculturalism, the ideology is a failure. Regardless of the efforts put in by the steps toward integration by the European Union or as depicted by the immigration policies of countries promoting multiculturalism, the reality is often hidden behind these policies. This is true when one takes in account the aspect of religious diversity which is becoming a key feature to talk about in 21st century especially when discussing the concept of multiculturalism. In addition, along with France and Germany, even Britain has acknowledged multiculturalism to b a failed pheneomenon as agreed by its leader David Cameron. However, this idea is seen to be in a clear religious direction especially pointing out at the Muslims (Deaken Q, 2007). This is because of the fact that multiculturalism and the idea of integration is often mixed with or combined with terrorism and extremism. These countries fear that if Muslims are integrated in their society, their country would suffer. Although multiculturalism is an old phenomenon like in Britain, a series of recent events have undermined it because of which it is failing. These include incidents like the ban of Salman Rushdie's novel; The Satanic Verses, the 9/11 attack and the London Bombings because of which multiculturalism needs to be scrutinized. Mainly because of this reason, in 2011, British PM; David Cameron stated that they have acknowledged culture diversity but have failed to give them an idea about the society to which they belong. He also mentions that Britain has also tolerated the behavior of these communities which was in against the values and principles of their society. However, since these communities are not absorbed and do not follow the human rights ideology of the country, it elucidates multiculturalism to be a failure (Jay G, 2011).

Hence, according to Banting (2006, p. 18), every individual, regardless of his identity, race and religion, has the right of equal and fair treatment. Therefore, mistreating the migrants eventually hinders the development of the world. It is the responsibility of the State to treat these migrants justly safeguarding their rights and considering them equal to the majority of the population. Thus, there is a dire need to integrate the migrants which is a major global challenge. Integration is the process of including the immigrants into the host society; into the relationships and institutions. It has become a problem because of the gap present between the immigration and the integration policies of different countries (Brooker, 1999). In addition, at times the written integration policies are hardly implemented. This is evident through the immigration challenge faced by U.S. And the EU in the 21st century. This is because of the underlying fact that both require labor for their economic prosperity. In addition, United States as well as the European Union is struggling to find a balance between the need of immigrants, the issue of integrating the migrants and also dealing with the problem of illegal migrants. In this regard, immigration is a challenge for EU as it has to align the immigration policies of all its 27 Member States where each of the state possesses their own history and culture. Similarly, United States also faces this trouble because of its resistance to work upon immigration reforms keeping in view its common language and culture (European Union, 2008). For this reason, EU is working upon developing their migration policy keeping in view the measures to promote prosperity, thereby preserving diversity and working for human rights. Despite the claim and efforts of EU to propose the continental policies for immigrants, the right of integrating the immigrants and their residence solely depends on the will of the EU member states. This poses the actual argument that despite the democratic nature of EU, the…

Sources Used in Document:


Banting K. 2006. Immigration, multiculturalism and the welfare state. Ethics and International affair. Vol. 20, No.3. Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affair.

Benwell, B. And Stokoe, Elizabeth. 2006. Discourse and Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Brooker, P. 1999. Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory, London: Hodder Arnold.

Cohen D. 2007. Violence Is Inherent in Islam - It Is a Cult of Death. The Evening Standard. 18.

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