My friend Tony (Crazy4ComicCon) for the last couple of years has been a part of a panel called The Battle for Multicultural Hero’s. If you are like me, and I really hope you aren’t, then here is why it matters to you.
I am a very generic white guy. I am a WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant). In fact , I am actually super white in that I am a ginger. Seriously, I get sunburned just walking out to the car. I grew up in Dallas, TX, arguably the heart of the Bible belt and growing up, most of my friends were white (and really still are). Growing up in the conservative South, multiculturalism was just not an important issue.
Let me set the record straight here. It wasn’t a racist thing like the rest of the country just assumes the entire South is. In fact, I knew very few people I would consider racist and your average Southerner isn’t. I am not naïve, I know racism still exist and it does in TX too. Texas is the state that gave us the sick jasper story where a black man was dragged to death behind a truck several years ago.
The issue is simply that we are white and we have things pretty good here. We were raised in our white world and to be honest, multiculturalism is just not an issue we were taught to value.. We valued helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and other social justice issues, but this issue was just not one of them.
If I am to be honest, for many white people (and me at times), multiculturalism often sounded more like a bunch of liberal whining. Like here we go again, somebody complaining about Affirmative Action or blah, blah, blah. We felt things were pretty equal and that opportunity was available for most everyone who truly wanted it. Except that it’s not.
Flash forward several years, a few hard lessons and good minority friends later and my view has changed. Diversity is an important issue and should be for white people too. Why?
Well, first of all let’s remember, the idea of promoting multiculturalism is not the same as fighting racism. So why promote it.
Well, first of all. Despite all the progress we have made things still aren’t equal for minorities. For white people, it’s hard for us to admit that. It’s hard for us to admit that as a society, despite all of our progress, we have still failed on many levels. We blame the older generations for these problems without admitting our lack of helping solve them. We look at issues of voting, education etc. and think things are equal, but as my friend Tony has pointed out, when you are running a race and starting out of the blocks further behind then the rest it is harder to catch up.
So why else is it important? Well, for one, the world is changing. It is becoming more and more integrated and white people need to learn how to integrate with other cultures. I mean let’s face it, our time at the top is going to end sooner or later! What will we do then with no multicultural experience?
Two, we can learn a lot from other cultures. So many other cultures have great things they can contribute to society and in my opinion, are often superior to white culture in many ways. It can range from art to music or to bigger social values such as family or community (for example look how many cultures have tight knit extended families whereas us white people generally act like we hate our extended families). Not to mention that fact other cultures are fun and broaden your horizons.
Another point for me personally is my battle with alcoholism. It is a disease that transcends race, color, creed or gender. One of things I learned it that addiction is the great multicultural equalizer. I instantly have a strong bond with anyone who has gone through it regardless of who they are, what they look like or where they are from. I am just the same as a minority who suffers from it as well. We are all on the same playing field and it creates one of the strongest communities I have ever seen.
I could also talk about other reasons. Seeing things from different perspectives, opening up new markets and opportunities, the importance of having minority hero’s for minority children, or how minorities are portrayed as stereotypes, but I am not really qualified to talk about those topics. I am just (well) qualified to talk from the white guy perspective.
For the record this panel isn’t a bunch of people sitting around bitching about white people. I went for the first time at Wondercon and really enjoyed it. At times it is light and fun and other times poignant and profound. It is a fun panel that I enjoyed and learned a lot from and that I plan attending again, and you should too, especially if you are white.
I would like to state here that as a ginger, I am actually part of the smallest minority around. So my question is: When will I get to be on the panel? As an unofficial minority I feel it is time to rise up and fight for ginger rights!
I kid of course, but it would be epic. Until then go to this panel and broaden your horizons. You will be glad you did.
The Battle for Multi-Cultural Hero’s is on Sunday the 27that 4 PM in room 28DE.
Follow the panelist: @Crazy4ComicCon