Eugene F. Rivers 3d, a Sojourners contributing editor, is pastor of Azusa Christian Community in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and co-chair of the National Ten-Point Leadership Foundation. He was interviewed by telephone on January 27, 1998, by Sojourners assistant editor Aaron Gallegos. The Editors
Aaron Gallegos: In your opinion, does multiculturalism redefine the racial issue in the United States, or is it still largely based on the legacy of black and white history in this country?
Eugene Rivers: The ideological phenomenon of multiculturalism has been one of the most retarding influences to advancing a discussion of authentic diversity and elevating the quality of discourse on racism in the United States. The multicultural ideology asserts that America is one big multicultural, multiethnic salad and that the historical experiences of various groups are essentially the same as that of black groups that were enslaved.
That analysis is fundamentally flawed. The experience of slavery in the United States is historically uniquethere is no contemporary analogue. Unlike those who voluntarily crossed the border into the United States, the myriads of black people who came here involuntarily have no way of locating their place of origin. For that reason, slavery is the pivotal question that still shapes the structure of racial discourse in the United States.