Why is Multi Culturalism a Threat!

Multiculturalism is defined as a state's capacity to deal with cultural plurality effectively and efficiently within its sovereign borders.  In simple words it tests the ability of the state to integrate other cultures and ways of life into systems and lifestyles that have developed over hundreds of years. The reality is that many of these newer cultures have seeped into the existing culture and those with a fixed notion of what it should be may find this difficult to swallow. This difficulty is further compounded when the existing culture believes it has a moral superiority over the new cultures that are trying to influence it….particularly when the newer cultures have been influenced by the weight of colonial miseducation.

Yes, I get it….and if I were a White English person whose forebears allegedly stretched back several generations and all that I believed I am, was the sum of centuries of history and tradition; that I believed made a significant impact on World History, I would want that to be acknowledged and recognised. The trouble with history is that is that it is a collection of stories that suit the storytellers and sadly the true history is as much about what is not said rather than what has been recorded.

Over the many years that humankind has dominated the earth, many countries have dominated globally and includes the Greeks, The Romans, The Austro-Hungarians, The Ottoman Empire (Turks), The Persian Empire (Iran), The Mongol Empire and The Spanish and Russians amongst others …and of course The British Empire which compromised almost a quarter of the planet, so there is no surprise that it called itself “Great” and had clearly defined views about its place in the world.

Many of the cultural traditions in this country are founded on Roman and Greek history; and Greece is very often quoted as the foundation of democracy and notwithstanding Shakespeare, Oxford and Cambridge alumni are always reminding us about their classical background by quoting the likes of Homer, Ovid and Sophocles…to assure us that they are very clever people and in most instances, they have got away with selling this fantasy.

Multiculturalism was at one time a benign movement where we as a nation welcomed our “Brown” or “coloured” brothers and sisters at a time when these were the acceptable terminologies. Curiously some of these definitions have been revived, in the delusion that they were not as harsh as being called Black; which carried with it all types of negative connotations.  Back in those days it was fashionable to empathise with the Anti-Apartheid movement, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Supporting Palestine was more in vogue at that time but 9/11 changed the international position on that.

This was a time when many of us were juggling with choices of integration, assimilation and separation and history has provided evidence of the consequences of these choices. Many tried integration which meant surrendering a little bit of who we were and culturally disconnecting from what we once were. Assimilation: perhaps the cruellest option which took disconnection that one step further to the point where we barely recognised where we came from and mimicked what are “hosts” thought we should be and finally separation which created an identity that was neither where we came from or where we chose to be.

Of course, the inevitable question is, despite, multiculturalism, what must you do to qualify to be British? Is there a distinction between those not born in the UK who feel that they have to do that much more to prove to be British and those like myself who was born here and know that this is my home for better or for worse and I do not have that dilemma of a special attachment to another place. Some would argue that we sometimes try a little too hard to belong and overcompensate in our desire to prove to others that we are one of them….but is that simply good optics.

There are many aspects of “Britishness” that i find attractive and I believe that my grammar school education must take some responsibility for that. I read all the classics feverishly that included Shakespeare, Dickens and authors like Robert Graves, Alan Sillitoe , John Braine and Harold Pinter and they were fascinating reads, but it was only when I started to read Alex Haley, Eldridge Cleaver and Franz Fanon that I came to understand a little bit more about myself and I am pleased that young Black people now have direct access to Black literature. It was my good friend Tobias Taitt, the author of Black: The Graphic Novel, who said to me that back in the 80s it was said that reading literature was like kryptonite to Black people….but thankfully things have moved on. I must confess I value my exposure to western literature, but I regret not being able to access literature that was derived from a non-western culture earlier in my life.

The bottom line is the words of the Peter Tosh tune, is “I Am That I Am”….a mixture of race, culture, personal history, and accident of birth but ultimately, I choose who I want to be, but I must firstly equip myself with knowledge of the options of my identities that are sometimes dimmed by the circumstances we find ourselves in. I guess the trick is to carry our past and allow that past to inform our future. Yes, we as a people had histories prior to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and sadly they are still mysteries to many of us in the West.

Your Ancient Future Brother

Don John