Multiculturalism beyond tolerance

Issue 9

“Multiculturalism beyond tolerance”

Donaldo Macedo



Cultural diversity cannot be viewed as simply the celebration of selected cultural manifestations of subordinated cultures aimed at securing better relations with dominant cultural groups. This view sustains a notion of ideology that systematically negates rather than makes meaningful the cultural experiences of subordinated cultural groups who are, by and large, the objects of dominant cultural policies. That is, the selective celebration of subordinated cultural values outside of a power relations framework can never prepare us to develop a deeper understanding of the tensions and contractions generated by the almost always asymmetrical multicultural co-existence.

In this paper, I want to argue that, as we enter the twenty first century, one of the most pressing challenges facing educators is the specter of an “ethnic and cultural war,” which constitutes in my view, a code phrase that engenders our society’s licentiousness toward racism. Central to the current cultural war is the facile call for a common culture and the over-celebration of myths that attempt to inculcate us with beliefs about the supremacy of Western heritage at the same time as the dominant ideology creates other instruments that degrade and devalue other cultural narratives along the lines of race, ethnicity, language, and gender.