POS334-L: THE RACE AND ETHNICITY BOOK REVIEW DISCUSSION LIST
Glazer, Nathan. We Are All Multiculturalists Now. Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts. 1997.
Subject: Review; We Are All Multiculturalists Now
Subject: Review: Glazer, Nathan "We Are All Multiculturalists Now."
Subject: Re: Review; We Are All Multiculturalists Now
Subject: Re: Review; We Are All Multiculturalists Now
> Subject: Re: Review; We Are All Multiculturalists Now
Subject: Re: We Are All Multiculturalists Now
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 20:46:28 -0600
From: Tony Lenn Heiserman
Subject: Review; We Are All Multiculturalists Now (Klass)
Glazer, Nathan. We Are All Multiculturalists Now. Harvard University
Press, Cambridge Massachusetts. 1997.
By Tony Heiserman
America is multiculturalism. In most of our early schooling years, the
creed of the social sciences curriculum is that we, as Americans, live in
the "great melting pot". In the decades following the revolutions (civil
rights, sexuality, etc.) of the 1960s in the United States especially the
black power and black pride movements of the late 60s, there has been a
strong shift from the viewpoint of this "melting pot" to more of a
protection of heritage emphasis. Not to say that this is a bad shift, the
people of today more than ever with the mixture of ethnicity in the U.S.
need to know their ancestry. However, this might have gone overboard today
because I believe that we, in learning our heritage, have forgotten that we
are all Americans (and perhaps, lose sight of, what we share in common, or
denigrate common values and traditions as learning the correct history of
this nation and of its many peoples is of the most importance but it should
help to unite us, not divide us). This might seem to be an ignorant and
utopian belief, but I have that right according to my constitutional rights.
Nathan Glazer agrees with these assumptions in his book, We Are All
Multiculturalists Now. His book starts off in bringing up a very heated
debate that ensued in 1994 in the state of Florida. The cause of this
debate concerned the curriculum of a small school board, in Lake County,
and their decisions on what type of education should be implemented to
cover multiculturalism. Their resolution stated, "this instruction shall
include and instill in our students an appreciation of our American
heritage and culture such as: our republican form of government,
capitalism, a free-enterprise system, patriotism, strong family values,
freedom of religion and other basic values that are superior to other
foreign or historic cultures." (Glazer 1) Both sides of this controversy
found it essential to argue how their viewpoint of tradition was superior
to the other. This caused a major uproar in the area between conservatives
and liberals with the liberals coming out on top against this. Most of the
country assumes because of the prevalence of multiculturalism in higher
education schooling and the government that it would obviously trickle down
into primary education, so says Glazer.
Why is it that multiculturalism is a new term to the United States when it
has had settlers from other countries for over five centuries? Glazer
picks up on this in saying that multiculturalism was not in the dictionary
until 1989 and there it is used for Canadian and Australian usage. The
reason that the U.S. has not instilled more of an importance on diversity
is because of its prejudice against its African-American citizens. He sees
education changing from a "eurocentric bias" towards a more "Afrocentric"
one. In reality, the eurocentric perspective as well as the afrocentric
perspective are not truly multicultural.
An excellent point that he makes is that class plays no role in
multiculturalism. Race and gender are always used in the fight for
multiculturalism but there is hardly ever a fight for class unless it
directly involves being a minority or a woman. He goes on in saying that
sexual orientation should also be included in the struggle for the rights
The school board of Florida is not the only institution that was attacked
for exclusiveness. The Curriculum of Inclusion stated, "African Americans,
Asian Americans, Puerto Rican/Latinos, and Native Americans have all been
the victims of an intellectual and educational oppression that has
characterized the culture and institutions of the United States and the
European American world for centuries. Negative characterizations and the
absence of positive references have a terribly damaging effect on the
psyche of young people of African, Asian, Latino, and Native American
descent." (Glazer 24) This was attacked because of its historical
imbalances regarding claims of minority superiority. Glazer was put on a
new committee to redo the curriculum of New York state. Their new report
was of a more progressive nature in heading for acceptance of all ethnicity.
In finding the correct conclusion of multiculturalism, Glazer rejects the
two extremes because he says the Afrocentric extreme is based on fantasy
and the Eurocentric extreme has lost its significance with todays
children. He raises four questions that define his stance on this issue:
is truth the only test for a social studies curriculum, what weight do we
give to national unity in the formation of a public school curriculum, does
multiculturalism undermine civic harmony, and do students have to see
themselves in the curriculum if they are to learn effectively?
The first question, is truth the only test for a social studies curriculum,
does not have a simple answer like "teach the truth." The question becomes
whos truth do we teach. The truth of the African American can greatly
vary from the truth of the Native American or the European American.
Because of the great diversity of the United States, there are many
perspectives on our history, our philosophy, and our achievements. The
U.S. has been dominated in these areas by the Western tradition, so should
the curriculum include other perspectives to boost self esteem of the
minorities? And if these other perspectives are taught in primary
education, will this cause a disunity in the nation which is addressed in
his second question.
The second question, what weight do we give to national unity in the
formation of a public school curriculum, is a great fear of
multiculturalists. European and Asian Americans, so says Glazer, would not
be severely affected by the teachings of multiculturalism. He feels that
African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women would be most likely to be
affected. Glazer compares how parochial schools were once thought to bring
about disloyalty which surely did not happen. This fear of estrangement of
the nation is for the most part unsubstantiated, he feels, even
exaggerated. This brings about the third question he addresses.
The third question, does multiculturalism undermine civic harmony, is very
prevalent today. Glazer senses that American could very easily become
another Yugoslavia or Canada/Quebec because of our long history of internal
divisiveness. The major emphasis should be on a more positive
multiculturalism that includes everyone but does not terribly criticize
anyone. He thinks that it is better for children to learn their history,
how horrible it was, but that there has been a lot of change since then and
there is a lot of change that will continue to flourish.
The fourth question, do students have to see themselves in the curriculum
if they are to learn effectively, depends on the viewpoint of the person.
Since people are all different, the curriculum must stress these
differences as a good thing. With each passing year, people are growing
farther apart because of these differences instead of a celebration of what
those differences can mean to our America as a whole. Change and
differentiability is a deserving term for a multiculturalist nation.
Glazer argues for a transcendence of our ethnicity towards a unified whole.
This transcendence is exonerated when he quotes John Dewey in his speech
about hyphenated Americanism. "Such terms as Irish-American or
Hebrew-American or German-American are false terms, because they seem to
assume something which is already in existence called America, to which the
other factors may be hitched on. The fact is, the genuine American, the
typical American, is himself a hyphenated character. It does not mean that
he is part American and that some foreign ingredient is then added. It
means that he is international and interracial in his make-up. He is not
American plus Pole or German. But the American is himself
-Jewand so on. The point is to see to it that they hyphen connects
instead of separates. And this means at least that our public schools
shall teach each factor to respect every other, and shall take pains to
enlighten us all as to the great past contributions of every strain in our
composite make-up." (Glazer 86) This is an idealistic and dated view but
it still carries weight now as much as ever.
The reason for the U.S. not achieving this utopia is because assimilation
failed. He says that all other peoples and cultures have been for the most
part assimilated into the American (Eurocentric) whole except for African
Americans. He goes in great discussion of the immigration of countries and
their subsequent assimilation into America. African Americans were not
assimilated because of a Eurocentric bias against them and because they did
not want to be Americanized, so says Glazer. This is a major problem
within multiculturalism because it excludes perhaps the most significant
Assimilation did fail, but there have been many critical changes to correct
past discrimination. Government action, Supreme Court decisions,
psychological evaluations on differences have all been instituted, but it
is a very slow process towards multiculturalism. And it might not even
For the most part, I believe that Glazer had a lot of very interesting
points that made a lot of sense. His points of how class is never admitted
into discussions of multiculturalism unless it involves race or gender is a
very critical issue. His somewhat dated views of how to deal with the
curriculum also seemed to speak true. We must accept all the diverse
viewpoints in a curriculum which is going to forward this nation into the
next century. But, he also missed a few points. Much like my own bemused
thoughts, Glazer has very idealistic prospects for the future and believes
that we as a people can transcend ethnicity. However, there are many
peoples of this nation who do not wish to transcend their own specific race
to work for a common goal. These people think that change is not good and
that there are no common goals (this is generally the older generation).
The other major problem that he has is in regard to writing a sufficient
curriculum to cover multiculturalism. We cannot base this curriculum on
who had the better history or on the percentages of representation on who
is studied. The great men and women of all history should be known for
their greatness, not their color, gender, heritage, etc. The founder of
our country, George Washington should be known for the good that he did,
but we should not forget that he too was a slave holder. History should not
be about who writes how it is, but how it actually was. That is a very
difficult and bold step. Likewise, multiculturalism is about all of us.
Good or bad, this nation is the uniting of all the great nations in the
world. And if we stray from that then there really is no hope for a
brighter future. The final history of the the United States is not yet
written and I truly hope that we are on the right track to that brighter
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 15:23:56 -0600
From: Justin Michael Almli
Subject: Review: Glazer, Nathan "We Are All Multiculturalists Now."
What is the newest craze of the twentieth century? Multiculturalism
of course! Nathan Glazer explores the many ins and outs of this
phenomenon in "We Are All Multiculturilists now. He begins with trying to
define the term multiculturalism. Which of course has had no set
definition. Dr. Glazer than compares and contrasts the concepts of
multiculturalism and assimilation.
So what exactly is multiculturalism? It is, in a nutshell, the
separate but equal representation of races. This term also
applies to the women rights movement and the homosexual community, which
means multiculturalism can represent organizations too. It is different
than assimilation in that multiculturalism does not try to mold many races
into a "common" people. While assimilation aims to create a common race in
America. This has proven quite difficult since Americas population is
unique in the way that many cultures live here.
Some people can argue that multiculturalism is what makes America. On the
other hand, critics of multiculturalism, such as Arthur Schlesinger, say
that this is what keeps the people of America apart. Dr. Glazer prefers
the assimilist view. He prefers a eurocentric education compared to a
multiculturalism one. Despite his preferences he has come to accept
multiculturalism for what it is worth.
One of the biggest debates of multiculturalism is what should be
>taught to the children of America, in regards to the social
sciences, history, and literature. One of the most pressing questions is,
"Does a race have to see themselves in a school textbook to be motivated to
learn?" Or is just a white European "history" good enough. This is
multiculturalism vs. assimilation.
Even if a multiculturalism is taken in the classrooms, then
>what should be focused on? The hundreds of years of white oppression
>against almost every race and ethnic group in the world. A newer concept
has raised that states children need a high self esteem to learn properly.
This could be very demotivating, and create a low self esteem for nonwhite
students if they feel that there is no hope for equal treatment/judgment.
Mr. Glazer thinks the past should be taught, but also that everything is
slowly but surely getting better for Americas minorities. This tends to be
an assimilist view rather than a multiculturalism view.
It would be impossible to represent everyone in a school
>curriculum. However, I agree with Mr. Glazer, that at least our two
>largest minorities (blacks and Hispanics) should be represented to the
>fullest. This might be a good start to raise academic progress between
>the two. A better idea might be to offer "multiculturalism" classes
>through JR high, then give the students a choice as to which areas they
>want to focus on. European. Hispanic. African.
Pre-WW2 era assimilation was the craze of America. Everybody
>needed or had to pull together through those hard times. Minorities
>wanted exactly what whites got. Even though assimilation was starting to
be accepted, during much of the debates blacks were almost always left out.
It is an oddity that assimilation was accepted, but the idea of black
assimilation was still not generally accepted. Then slowly a shift started
coming, where America was thought to be made through the differences of its
people. Multiculturalism was born. Minorities made the shift from not
wanting to be like their European counterparts, with respect to culture.
Sure they still wanted the money and privileges that came with
assimilation, but they also wanted an identity of their own. There are
unlimited views to this idea. This seems to be the most logical. Sure our
differences, perspectives, are a part of what makes us great. But we need
to have some sort of bond, or glue if you will, that will hold us together.
Without a common bond, the people of this nation will eventually tear it
apart. The idea of free speech, or in short human rights is probably the
only thing in America that most everyone will accept. This is why a lot of
Americas people came here in the
first place. Who knows, in a couple of generations Americas races might
be so interlocked, through interracial marriage that our cultures will be
too melted together to be distinguished from one another..
Now thats an idea.
One of the biggest criticism of multiculturalism is that is divides
instead of unites. A nation were the people are divided is bound to cause
problems for that nation. The idea of segregation might be viewed as
multiculturalism. Separate but equal. If segregation did not work why
would multiculturalism? Another reason is that most people in America are
from a European decent. Europeans are the people who started and for the
most part shaped this country. So the critics of multiculturalism think it
is the only way to teach the true history of America. We are in America,
so Americas history should be taught.
With regards to children, it is still to early to tell if there is a
negative or positive impact from multiculturalism. One could speculate
though. Most of our schools textbooks are not from a multiculturalism
view. If they are it is a very small portion of that textbook dedicated to
other races. Hispanics and Blacks, our two largest minorities, have the
highest dropout rates and lowest standardized testing among all of the
races. From this view, one could say that a race not seeing itself in
textbooks is demotivating and creates a low self esteem for students. But
on the other hand, what about Asians? They have one of the highest college
graduating rates and standardized test scores. They are just as
underrepresented in our school text books. So you could also say that a
student does not necessarily have to see their past to make a future.
Personally I do not think you can classify an entire race to say that
seeing or not seeing their past in a textbook creates or destroys
self-esteem. I think multiculturalism does have an effect on some
students. While some students are not really interested if they see their
race in a textbook. But be that as it may we are all part of America. So
I think it is only fair that different cultures have the opportunity to
embrace their past in our school system. Whites have always been able to
see themselves, so should our other cultures.
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 14:08:52 -0500
From: "D. Albers"
Comments: To: Tony Lenn Heiserman
Thank you for your review. I really enjoyed it and have made getting my
hands on the book my next project.
I have a couple of questions. Does the author distinguish between
multiculturism and diversity? If he does not, then may I ask how one
might make such a distinction?
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 14:56:43 -0500
From: "Spalding, Nancy L."
Subject: Re: Review; We Are All Multiculturalists Now (Klass)
My sense is that 'diversity' is the reality of the kind of society in
which we live, e.g., a diverse society, while 'multicultural' tends to
be used to describe a particular approach to the diversity, generally
valuing more highly traditional minority cultures. for what it's
Nancy Spalding, East Carolina Unviersity
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 00:05:25 -0600
From: Heather Freeman
Subject: Re: We Are All Multiculturalists Now
We Are All Multiculturalists Now: Glazer, Nathan
by Heather Freeman
Of course we are not all really multiculturalists. When Nathan Glazer
says that "we are all multiculturalists now" he does not mean that we have
all came together to make a united move in this direction. He is saying
that we, as Americans, have no option, but to be a multiculturalist. Glazer
compares this situation to the one where Sir William Harcourt said, "We
are all socialists now". In this case Sir William did not believe that
socialism was the right thing, it was the inevitable thing and it had to be
accepted. Glazer sees multiculturalism as something that is unpleasant yet
What is a multiculturalism? In a sense it is a demand that all groups be
recognized. It is the now popular way to respond to diversity, especially
in the realm of education. Americans hold the image of a multiculturalist
society as being without prejudice and discrimination and where no
cultural theme is linked to any racial or ethnic group. In this vision
America is seen as a mixture of themes from every minority and ethnic group.
At times multiculturalism can be misconstrued and made to encompass more
than its original purpose. For this reason a distinction must be made
between affirmative action and the goals of multiculturalism. Quotas for
college admission and goals and timetables for employment are not apart of
multiculturalism. The same as affirmative action does not recognize
cultures. Affirmative action is in search of justice to individuals and
groups who have not received equal treatment. While multiculturalism is a
search for respect for groups and individuals.
Multiculturalism is a rejection of assimilation and Americanization.
Unfortunately must of the American curriculum was built around these two
ideals. One fear of critics, and Nathan Glazer, is that an emphasis on
recognition of other cultures might effect the efforts made to teach
children the truth. The four big fears of critics of multiculturalism is
that an emphasis on multiculturalism will lead to "untruths, that it will
threaten national unity, that it will undermine civic harmony (to the
extent that we have it), and that it will do nothing to raise the
achievement of the groups expected to benefit from it (34)." Is the truth
worth sacrificing in an effort to obtain civic harmony? Critics of
multiculturalism say no.
Another question that arises when discussing multiculturalism is should
the goodwill be emphasized over truth? Glazer gives the example of a
controversy over the movie The Liberators. The movie was an effort to
improve black-Jewish relations. It showed black soldiers being among the
first to free concentration camps. The truth, however is black soldiers
were not among the first, even though the were in the army that freed these
camps. Glazer claims to not be taking a stand on the issue. Im not sure
why because he took a stand on every other issue. It did seem that he felt
this type of untruth was okay, because he says, "one must respect the good
will of those who made the movie (40)."
In the educating of our children Glazer rejects two opposing extremes. He
rejects the multicultural or Afrocentric extreme because it is largely
based on fantasy. It expands the role of Africa and blacks in history.
He rejects the Eurocentric extreme because it is based on a commitment to
the past and topics that have lost meaning to our everyday lives. So then
he asks, what are we to do about the social studies curriculum? This is
not a simple question. "Teach the Truth"" is not the answer because both
sides of the controversy believe that is what they are doing. Extreme
multiculturalists claim that they are telling the truth that had previously
been ignored or overlooked. Critics see this as a disregard for
"scientific method". Of course we could stick to specific facts, says
Glazer. Have texts only include names, dates and places, but who would be
satisfied with that?
On the question, does multiculturalism undermine civic harmony, Glazer
seems to believe that depends on the teacher and the way the curriculum is
taught. The mistreatment of minorities should not be left out of the
teachings of the history of the U.S. However, it should be emphasized that
the U.S. has made progress with history of greater inclusion, less
discrimination, and an increase in the rights of minorities. Is it better
for blacks to learn that oppression has barely been reduced since the civil
rights movement or for them to believe that oppression by citizens has
slowly been decreasing? Glazers answer to this is, "For their own good,
their own progress, I believe that it would be better for young blacks to
believe there has been improvement in their situation, that their
opportunities are greater than before, rather than the reverse."
What has contributed to the growth of multiculturalism? One is the
evidence of a new history that came with the rise of immigrants,
minorities, gays and lesbians. Another is that we are more open-minded
about the position of the U.S among other countries in the world. We are
no longer number one in every category. Along with this gain of
open-mindedness has been a loss of conceit. The reality of the
non-western world plays a part in the growth of multiculturalism. A fourth
contributor has been the loss of confidence in science. The last
contributor has been a loss of religious faith in the West. These
contributors are what make designing a new history and social studies
curriculum difficult. The fault can not only be placed on multiculturalism
and Afrocentrism, Glazer says. Politics and curriculum reform play a role
Multiculturalism became a big issue in the 1980s. Glazer believes that
it was brought on by a growth of frustration in the black community. They
were disappointed that the civil rights reform did not deliver what they
had expected. Gaps between black and white achievement were still large.
Asians, who made up half the number of new immigrants, scored well on tests
and were happy with the education they were receiving. Hispanics, Puerto
Ricans, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans have a few dissatisfactions
with the U.S. educational system. Glazer, however, believes that it is
blacks that fuel the multiculturalism fire.
Where did assimilation fail blacks? In the first talks of Americanization
after World War II, blacks our biggest minority were not even mentioned.
One argument that has been made is Americanization could only include
people who were not American. Since blacks were American born than they
did not fit into this discussion. When looking at the goals of
Americanization it should have easily included blacks. These aims were to
encourage newcomers and citizens to participate politically, to teach them
customs, to distribute them into communities, and to teach them English.
Even the critics of Americanization and assimilation mentioned little about
blacks. This non-inclusion even from the beginning of assimilation is what
has led most blacks to rally around multiculturalism.
Glazer raises the question can we all be brought together. One of the main
reasons blacks have not integrated as well as he thought they would is
because of the lack of housing and residential integration. Glazer assumed
civil rights reform would bring about this and it would in turn lead to
school integration. Glazer believes that it is a matter more complicated
than just prejudice. "It is not easy to separate out from prejudice the
influence of fears that, with an increase in black occupancy, crime will
increase, schools will decline, and house values will drop," says Glazer.
"But in these neighborhoods there will also be fears that crime will
increase, property values will decline and schools will become
poorer(133)." In this case blacks and whites have the same expectations.
The only forces that can realistically bring us together will have to be
individaul and volunteer rather that governmental. For one government
programs have not been as effect as hoped. Another reason to stay away
from further government involvement is that it leads to resentment.
Because assimilation failed we are now faced with multiculturalism. Forcing
students to believe that skin color does not make you different obviously
did not work. Multiculturalism is in a way a celebration of differences.
Multiculturalism is based on good reasoning. Something had to be done
about the lack of recognition to groups who live here in the U.S. The
question is how to fairly and honestly involve multiculturalism in the
realm of education. Like assimilation, multiculturalism might be a phase.
Right now, however it is the best option we got. Glazer puts it well when
he says that "when it comes to division of blacks and others, they reflect
a hard reality that none of us wants, that all of us want to see disappear,
but that none of us knows how to overcome (161)."