Language Practice 3
28. November 2006
The Need for a Multicultural View on History
In his essay Ronald Takaki explains how many misconceptions we have according to our view of history and minority groups. He challenges some ideas that are present in most peopleâ€™s mind and are thought to be democratic or tolerant, even some made by Asian Americans. I am going to examine how right Takaki is when he calls for a more inclusive, multicultural view of history that would allow us to understand each other.
Ronald Takaki starts his essay with an example that shows a clear view of the lack of multiculturalism or inclusiveness in most peopleâ€™s way of ...view middle of the document...
The word â€œracismâ€ might sound too harsh, but these misunderstandings come from the tendency that people think about minority groups as distinct and different (from average, which means in this case white) homogeneous groups coexisting with the â€œrealâ€ Americans. He tries to make people understand that there is no more such a thing as average American, because it excludes all members of numerous minority groups (naturally this argument deals with the ethnic dimension of the term and does not focus on the social part). This is a huge problem not just because it exists but because it is present in every part of the country, every layer of society and in other minority groups as well. According to Takaki there is a solution for this problem. He offers a different approach to history. He claims that people (namely Americans) should study their history in a multicultural perspective to be able to understand their own society and various ethnic groups that make up the United States. Also this inclusive, multicultural education policy should focus on their own country and examine minorities as part of the whole society, as a slightly different group of Americans and not as â€œstrangers from a different shoreâ€. One of the first and most important steps was the creation of compulsory courses on the subject at University of California, Berkley, which should be an example for other universities, too. First this action shows students that this is a subject that is essential to know about and deal with; secondly it develops a more critical thinking and a deeper understanding of other ethnic groups and the problem of prejudices itself.
Takaki mentions one of the books of another contemporary historian of Asian origin, Fukuyamaâ€™s The End of History and the Last Man. He says that even some Asian Americans or historians fail to interpret history in a broader view. They only thing they examine is the ongoing conflict of political systems (that has reached its peak according to Fukuyama) and do not pay attention to social problems or changes. Fukuyama by calling this issue (comparing the state of the black minority to the Asian) a cultural...