Does Multicultural Mean Nonwhite?

Does Multicultural Mean Nonwhite?

According to the new glossy, sponsored- content ad by Morgan Stanley it does. And the new multicultural future is populated with young people who are happy and of color. These are the Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and multiracial people who will drive consumerism in the multicultural America. In their slick sponsored-content piece entitled, Multiculturalism: America’s Competitive Advantage which is inserted in The Atlantic. Morgan Stanley suggests the emergence of a world without white people. I’m not doubting their statistics, but multiculturalism is more than data, most of which has been around since the 80’s. At its core multiculturalism is about changing values, processes, and systems and the fact that not everybody agrees with those changes.

In Morgan Stanley’s happy world there are no angry white, lower class, undereducated workers, who are afraid of losing their racial status. There are no white people who are trying to preserve their sense of culture and history. There are no Assimilationists, who believe that the way to future progress lies in “restoring traditional values,” whatever those are. There are no white people who hear the term multiculturalism and fear invasion. In this version of the future, we don’t even know if being Hispanic is a race, they are just a part of the “Multiculturals” who are coming to a theater near you. And, there are no Black Lives Matters activists who campaign and protest against violence and systemic racism toward black people.

Maureen Craig of New York University and Jennifer Richeson of Northwestern University conducted important research on intergroup dynamics related to how a historically dominant ethnic group responds to change once it no longer constitutes a majority… and it is not rosy. These findings suggest that rather than ushering in a more tolerant future, the increasing diversity of the nation may actually yield more intergroup hostility,” the authors wrote. In the United States, we’ve seen increased hostility directed toward “Mexicans,” and in Europe, it has focused significantly on Muslims

In Morgan Stanley’s world, all of these issues have been happily resolved through demographic shifts. Demographics, we are led to believe, not only by Morgan Stanley but by most major businesses, will solve all of our cultural conflicts. No more problems in the multicultural future just creativity, innovation and a lot of customers of color. It’s a nice glossy vision, but given what was spent to produce it, wouldn’t it be better for powerful companies like Morgan Stanley to invest in publishing content that actually contributes to helping the nation figure out how we actually get to this new multicultural world vision. While we’re on the way to that happy future shouldn’t we actually include white people in it? After all isn’t being white a culture? Young white Millennials will have to make sense of their identity in a world that no longer resembles the 1960’s and 70’s. In no way can the aspirational images within this beautifully produced brochure become a reality without hard work that will engage whites who come from all generations and social backgrounds. Certainly by reinforcing that “being diverse” means being of color, or a woman, is not helpful in a global environment where differences are volatile.

I’ve spent most of my career arguing that “diversity” is about everybody but the double speak that fancy business diversity statements and slick pieces like this suggest to me, is that the diversity movement is hiding its true purpose which is civil rights, equality, and justice for all. These are certainly goals that I strongly support as do many others across many backgrounds. If that’s what it is why not just say it? We need a new mindset in order to have useful discussions given the real dynamics of today’s world.

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