The Changing Face of America

New language to describe the complexity of contemporary race relations in America will necessarily wander outside the familiar black-white race relations framework. Multiculturalism is merely one small step toward a new way of talking about race relations today. Some have noted, however, that projecting multiculturalism as the idea vision for America in fact jeopardizes efforts for racial justice.

Multicultural education, for instance, may celebrate America’s diversity, but it often ignores the power and persistence of "elite white male privilege." On the other hand, many fear that multiculturalism’s pluralist premise fosters racial polarization and identity politics. Thus, it is reassuring to those who are morally committed to racial justice and those who fear the "balkanization" of American society to retain the black-white paradigm. Nevertheless, a new language is needed. The black-white paradigm, helpful as it may be in describing power inequity, no longer—if it ever did—reflects social reality.

The Data of a New America

Throughout the past 30 years, the influx of immigrants from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean has dramatically altered America’s racial landscape. Brought up in New York City, Tim observed the explosive growth of its Chinatown and the emergence of three other "Chinatowns" in Queens and Brooklyn during the past three decades. He also witnessed the incredible proliferation of Korean and Chinese churches all over the metropolitan area.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1998
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