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How to Save Multiculturalism

"Multiculturalism" isn't a bad word. Embracing the differences diverse people bring to the table can create endless educational opportunities.


U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron just reignited the debate on "multiculturalism," joining ranks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Sarkozy by declaring their multicultural policies a "failure." As a U.S. passport carrying, multilingual, daughter of immigrants, and as a mother of aspiring global citizens, such a defeat felt like a kick in the gut. In my travels speaking to diverse audiences on gaining a global perspective and the tools contained in my book, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World, I’ve seen quite the opposite: individuals of varied backgrounds coming together to raise beautiful families, make friends across cultural and ideological lines, and take tangible steps toward building a better world for their children.

Upon closer review, David Cameron’s justification for the failure of multiculturalism seemed reasonable: "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream." Speaking specifically of radical Muslim youth, Cameron argued this resulted in marginalization, rootlessness, and "behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values."

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