The strangest thing about our ethnic relations

 Sam Smith – The strangest thing about ethnic relations in this country is the lack of organizations and movements pushing not only anti-racism, but also helping our different cultures actually like and get along with each other. Imagine if the major standard for marriage was just opposition to anti-feminism, righteous as that is. Or if the primary reason for joining a club or association was just to defend it against critics.

While there is no doubt that active prejudice is a major issue, it is also true that for a multicultural society to function well we need to get along with each other. It needs to be an asset and not just an endless problem.

As a free thinking sort of guy, I’ve gone through my whole life feeling different  from many around me and have spent no little time trying to get along with them. As one of six children, I met this challenge early. As the uncle of four Hispanic children of a now widowed Puerto Rican, and as one  attracted to jazz in no small part by  black musicians, I learned that multiculturalism was fun and informative.  It made my life better, as did the five decades my wife and I were part of the white minority in Washington, spending a lot of good time with folks who didn’t look like us but shared common interests and concerns.  

There are some smart ways of achieving a good relationship with others. For example, having places where folks of different backgrounds can trade stories, find things you have in common or work together on something (like musicians and ball players). We could teach  multiculturalism in school, where it is currently sadly missing from curricula. And replace identity politics with issue politics that unites cultures, not to mention significantly increasing the number involved in the cause.

If we are going to be a good multicultural society we have to see the relations between those of different ethnicities as something we are proud of and pleased by, not just an endless problem we try to solve and don’t do it very well.