The Problematics of Multiculturalism in a Post-Racial America

Notes from an Anti-Multiculturalist
  • Annette Henry
Part of the Transgressions book series (TRANS, volume 84)

Abstract

I am an Anti-multicultualist. I use the term unapologetically, and with intention. I borrow it from Sylvia Wynter, Professor Emerita of Black Studies and Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Stanford University. Wynter uttered this phrase in the introduction to a 1990 presentation at Santa Clara University, based upon her book “Do not call us negroes: How multicultural books perpetuate racism. This book was the outcome of a 90-page open letter to the State of California in 1990 in protest against the uncritical adoption of a social studies textbook series by Houfflton Mifflin; the textbooks were riddled with erroneous and stereotypical images of racial and cultural groups (Wynter, 1990). This “anti-multiculturalist” stance raises questions about the possibilities and limitations of multicultural education in the United States of America. Although there are a range of ways of understanding multicultural education, for the most part, it has not worked for certain groups in the USA, namely indigenous peoples, Black Americans, and Chicanos. Indeed more globally, indigenous peoples, multiracial, multiethnic, and multinational nation-states include groups whose very existence, cosmology, and very ways of being challenge the prevailing multicultural discourses.

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