The Common Good
June 1994

A Multicultural Battle Cry

by Dwight Hopkins | June 1994

"Multiculturalism" is a popular culture term used by certain people of color and white people.

"Multiculturalism" is a popular culture term used by certain people of color and white people. Why has this word surfaced at this particular moment? What struggles from below, from people fighting for life and death pursuits gave rise to this word? The terms "black," "feminism," and "imperialism" arose during the 1960s and '70s as a result of the black liberation, feminist, and anti-war movements. But where the hell did "multiculturalism" come from?

I suspect that multiculturalism is the latest model of good ol'-fashioned 1950s and 1960s integration. Like integration, multiculturalism is a battle cry primarily of the black (and other people of color) middle class. It implies a reformist-additive approach to a disequilibrium of the power to self-name and self-determine resources.

Fundamentally, it means having more black police officers, professors, politicians, business persons, etc., along with whites who are already in these positions and the middle-class strata.

Dwight Hopkins was an African-American liberation theologian when this article appeared.

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