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Some Multicultural Reservations

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The almost perennial attempt to establish a reservation for “native Hawaiians” in Hawaii raises a question pertinent to continuing discussions of multicultural education: how do we pick the ancestors with whom we want to identify? Racism is here defined as a syllogism not necessarily related to any documentable facts. It is the attribution of the assumed characteristics of a group to an individual perceived to be one of its members, whether by that or another member or an outsider. The result has been an ancient and almost universal psychological adherence to traditions, e.g., in burial grounds, territorial claims (whether spatial or temporal, geographic or sexual), and linguistic preferences, that convey the promise of immortality through that membership as long as one’s descendants maintain those traditions. Hawaii’s demographics, indicative of a changing world, suggest that it is this commonality rather than its variations that deserves emphasis in multicultural education.

Keywords: Hawaii; cultural diversity; multicultural education; multiculturalism; racism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Michigan

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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