Please view the short video clip from School House Rock to prepare you for this discussion:
What is the basic message of this video? Do you see any negative messages that this video could possibly send? Consider the term Multiculturalism: the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society, as a state or nation.
Does the video demonstrate multiculturalism? or do you interpret the video to suggest that everyone jump into the same pot and melt into one homogenous American culture?
There are many terms and labels that are used and misused in our country when referring to other cultures. This can create a negative stereotype, one that suggests that people lack the awareness to recognize the various cultures of the world and even those here in the US. There are many people, for example, who are unaware of how many distinct cultures speak Spanish, and incorrectly assume all Spanish speakers are Mexican, or all Spanish speakers are Spanish.
It is important to know how to correctly refer to others. There was a time when the attitude was “English only” and everyone focused only on what was “American” but that is over, thankfully, as people have recognized the importance and benefit of knowing about others and having the skills to communicate across cultures and borders. After, what is truly “American” is a mix of all of the cultures and customs brought by the people who found their way to the “New World” and started this great nation.
The best practice is to avoid labeling people, but if it is necessary, it is best to use a general term like Hispanic or Latino, Asian, or European. But even these terms are not preferred by all who fit the definition. So if you are interested in somebody’s heritage, ask a question like “What is your family’s heritage?” This can open up a conversation in a positive way, one that shows interest and not assumption.
Why is it better to ask the previous question rather than “Where are you from?”
Let’s focus on the misidentifying that goes on with people here in the US. In what ways might people have negative feelings about being misidentified?
Do you know your heritage and are you proud of that heritage? Do you identify with your heritage or with being American or both?
Discuss any experiences you have with this issue and your thoughts about the topic after considering the video and commentary you have read.
I encourage you to do further research on labels or terms like “Hispanic, Latino, and Chicano” and share your findings and how these terms differ from one another. Do you think these terms are useful? (Please follow APUS policy and use appropriate citations for any outside resources you use or refer to. Always remember the plagiarism policy here at APU and avoid copy/pasting from a web source).