Multiculturalism has taken a hit in the news lately.
On Friday, CREDOPac, a liberal group, released a video footage of Rep. Steve King (R-IA) giving a speech in which he said that multicultural groups at Iowa State University are in danger because of its victimizing narrative. He is concerned that these groups lures impressionable students who are more likely to join their groups and somehow become more receptive to the victimizing stance that these groups invoke.
To start, multiculturalism is a general appreciation or identification with a specific ethnicity. The prevalence of diversity and multiculturalism in a college setting should be applauded. These multicultural clubs are just like any other group in that its members share a similar interest and participate in cultural events with like-minded folks.
I actually think joining these clubs actually strengthens one’s cultural pride in oneself and increases one's self-esteem. This does not mean that members somehow feel 'victimized'. Part of the uneasiness that King has a problem with, is that these multicultural groups hold something that's dear to them that's not tangible, that he can't identify with and somehow he thinks goes against the grain of being an American.
There are different shades and meanings of what it means to be an American, but ultra-conservatives try to put everyone into a collective box and if you try to deviate from this group, such as identifying as a member of a multicultural group, it somehow takes away one's value.
Secondly, you can discuss issues that you identify with as part of a cultural group that may not be shared in Western mainstream society such as television shows that revere a cultural hero. King, who’s been called one of ‘the most open bigot in Congress, seems to conflate multiculturalism with a weakened sense of morality.
While he’s not against multiculturalism per se, he is against the victimizing of its members who identify with these multicultural groups: “..It’s the victimology, which has been the core of multiculturalism...people are being told that it's not their fault. They've been discriminated against because clearly they belong to some victims group somewhere or they are a victim, and they just haven't found the group to join.”
He needs to attend at least one of these meetings before making such blanket statements. Perhaps he'll be less likely to make further offensive remarks. That he's a white male talking about multiculturalism is laughable. People who have been victimized aren't discriminated as a result. I find the opposite to be true.
Being discriminated or being made a target specifically because of the way you look can set a precedent in being victimized. This happens to people who have been a victim of sexual violence. Overcoming your initial circumstances makes you a winner.
For many students of color, they may be the first in their family to attend or graduate in college. It's an altogether different experience for white students who may have different expectations of them. They may have financial backings and don't need to worry so much about financing their school.
The problem, as I see it, is that society has different expectations of what we're capable of depending on our skin color. This is evident through the higher than normal frequency of minorities’ encounters with police.
"That's the excuse path. We need to have individual responsibility, a culture that supports it -- that celebrates it -- and one that discourages the slackers from lining up at the public trough and accepting the benefits of the sweat of someone else's brow." With this statement, King somehow conflates multiculturalism with being weak and inevitably, dependent on government handouts. That the lack of individual responsibility in America applies only to minorities and somehow its members are given benefits not designed for them. This sounds awfully racist.
King’s statement aims to poke, prod and hurl insults by linking minorities (students of color who make up the majority of these multicultural groups) with America’s immigration policy (because not all students of color are necessarily illegal citizens).
The stance is further complicated by the DREAM Act: the temporary provisions under the Obama administration by which children of undocumented immigrants under certain conditions are allowed to remain in the country to work and study without having to worry about being deported.
Since many children are brought into this country without a choice, this is one of the aspects that Rep. Steve King attacks. Yet for DREAMers, it lifts a heavy burden from being a victim to being a person who is able to exercise their goals.