UTNE Reader summary, Jan.-Feb., 1999 issue

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Edmondson, Brad. (1999, Jan.-Feb.). The Multicultural Myth. UTNE Reader, 18.,

Submitted by Jill Katrin

More than 13 million newcomers have settled in the United States since the early 1980s. Edmondson discusses how this influx of immigration is creating two Americas: one that is young, urban, and multicultural, and another that is middle-aged to elderly, suburban to rural, and almost all white. Is this new wave of immigration changing the demographics of the United States? Why are some areas considered to be more multicultural than others? Does diversity depend on where you live? These are a few questions that arose as I read this article.

Research by Universtiy of Michigan demographer William Frey showed that only 21 percent of the nations 325 metropolitan areas are truly multicultural. This means, compared to the national average, there are fewer non-Hispanic Whites and more members of at least two major racial and ethnic groups. Cities become multicultural for a simple reason: Immigrants tend to settle near their ports of entry, or where it is easiest to find a wide variety of jobs, states Edmondson. Almost fifty percent of Asian immigrants enter the United States through Los Angeles or San Francisco, and another twenty-five percent pass through New York or Newark. California and Texas are home for half of the United States Hispanics, too.

Edmondson also discusses how immigrants tend to settle in areas where the white population is leaving. This information is not anything we havent heard before. As immigrants move in, native-born Americans flee. The dividing lines of the future, though, may have less to do with race than with class and age,  states Edmondson. Research among the nations most racially integrated neighborhoods conducted by demographer Reynolds Farley shows that these neighborhoods have no established patterns of race or ethnicity. Both minority homeowners and white neighbors are likely to have the same kinds of jobs, children the same age, and the same polical views.

Edmondson discusses how contrary to older Americans keeping their distance from immigrants, younger Americans are becoming closer to them. According to the University of Californias annual American Freshmen Survery, many college freshmen socialize frequently with someone from a different racial or ethnic group.

I was immediately intrigued to read this story because the title peaked my interest. I am currently taking a multicultural class called S.E.E.D - Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity. This class has brought an increased awareness of the importance of multicultural education in our now increasingly diverse student population. This class has allowed me to explore my innermost thoughts and feelings encompassing diversity. While exploring my own, I have gained appreciation and respect of other members' views on diversity.

I too believe that younger Americans are becoming more diversified and are drawn to people of varying backgrounds and ethnicity. A foreign exchange student from Mexico recently visited my classroom. My students were immediately drawn to conversing and learning more about this individual and the country she came from. Exposure to people of different communities, cultures, countries, etc. provides our students with the experiential background needed to build cultural awareness, respect and understanding of the values, customs, and traditions of our global society. Diversity is our link to the world around us.

-- Anonymous, May 06, 1999

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