Defining Multiculturalism According to the Journal of Counseling & Development, the terms race, culture and ethnicity tend to be used interchangeably. This is highly problematic because they are all very different concepts. Race - this term has been used to group people by physical appearance; to imply a common descent or heredity. In 1942, Ashley Montagu wrote: “Race is the witchcraft of our time … is a contemporary myth … man’s most dangerous myth.” Culture - represents thebehaviors and beliefs that characterize a certain group. Culture can manifest physically in terms of buildings, tools, etc. Subjective culture involves a group’s Social structure, systems and organizations … beliefs, values and norms (paradigms). Ethnicity - is embedded within culture. Characteristics that make up smaller groups within a larger cultural group or society. Examples: The many tribes of the American Indian family; different ethnicities of the Mexican/Latino cultural family; even different ethnicities within The European cultural family. Ethnicity is played out in terms of how we speak, eat, work, and celebrate life stages.
Defining Multiculturalism Other terms I’d like to incorporate into our discussion: Class - term used to define groups of people of similar economic and/or social empowerment and accessibility. Disabled/Handicapped/Challenged - terms used to denote persons who are physically, mentally or emotionally suffering from a loss of 100% normal function of any part of the human body and/or experience. Underserved - a newer term that can include persons who are disenfranchised via class, societal positioning (e.g. prisoners), gender, sexual orientation, disability, and/or AGE. Misunderstanding of the underserved occurs when those challenges manifest themselves in a lack of basic survival needs as in a home, vehicle, education, relationships, etc.
Defining Multiculturalism WHAT IS AMERICA’S NATIONAL IDENTITY? It is a cornucopia of peoples and cultures A diverse identity; a cultural identity A multicultural identity rooted in democratic principles Those democratic principles are most commonly displayed in terms of intellectual freedom, thought and expression Intellectual freedom, thought and expression are afforded on an equal basis where? AT YOUR SCHOOL’S LIBRARY; AT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY
Defining Multiculturalism Source: Gae Broadwater, 2001. Gae Broadwater (2001) talks about the differences between the standards of mainstream American cultural norms and various sub-cultural norms. Mainstream America: who is this? How do we know “mainstream” American Cultural values when we see them? Basically, mainstream values are those “across the board” criteria and standards that create an overall national identity. Broadwater illustrates how mainstream American norms are often at odds with common ethnic and/or even community-based norms. (see next slide)
Defining Multiculturalism Source: Gae Broadwater, 2001. Aspects of Culture Dominant American Sub Cultures Sense of Self and Space - Formal - Hugs, bows, handshakes - Informal - Handshake Implicit, Indirect Emphasis on Context; Meaning Found Around Words Explicit, Direct Emphasis on content; Meaning Found in Words Communication and Language “Dress for Success” Wide range of accepted dress Dress seen as a sign of position, wealth, prestige, religious rules Dress and Appearance Food and Eating Habits Eating as necessity “Fast Food” Dining as a social experience; religious rules Linear and Exact Time Value on Promptness “Time Equals Money” Elastic and Relative Time Time spent on enjoyment of relationships Time and Time Consciousness Focus on nuclear family Responsibility for self Value on youth; age a handicap Focus on extended family Loyal, responsible to family; Age given status and respect Relationships, Family, Friends Individual Orientation Independence Prefer direct conflict resolution Group Orientation Conformity Preference for harmony Values and Norms
Defining Multiculturalism Source: Gae Broadwater, 2001. Aspects of Culture Dominant American Sub Cultures Egalitarian Challenging of Authority Individuals control their destiny Gender Equity Hierarchical Respect for authority and social order Individuals accept their destiny Distinct Gender Roles Beliefs and Attitudes Mental Processes and Learning Styles Linear, Logical, Sequential Problem-Solving Focus Lateral, wholistic, simultaneous Accepting of life’s difficulties Emphasis on the task Reward based on individual achievement Work has intrinsic value Emphasis on relationships Rewards based on seniority, relationships Work is a necessity of life Work Habits and Practices
Defining Multiculturalism ALL institutions engage in a culture, and within that institutional culture, community subcultures are expressed. Academic Libraries Dominant Culture Subcultures = University = Faculty, Students = Student Activities/Organizations Special Libraries Dominant Culture Subcultures = Corporations, = Management, Employees, Museums, Courts, = Groups within employee pop. Hospitals, etc. School Libraries Dominant Culture Subcultures = Institution = Faculty, Students, = School District = Student Activity Groups = Municipality Public Libraries Dominant Culture Subcultures = Municipality = Library Staff, Neighborhoods, = Library Admin. Groups within neighborhood community “Members of community-based audiences often do not belong to the dominant groups represented in an institution.” - Broadwater, 2001.
Librarianship As A Cultural Profession Community or Association Institution Accepts that things can and will go wrong Orderly perfection to things; institutions are designed to create order Only the best, the strongest will survive and dominate Inclusive rather than exclusive; there is room for people w/diff. abilities Contributions can be controlled and predicted Consensual contribution is a primary value Nonhierarchical; Responds Quickly Hierarchical; Bureaucratic processes promotes slow response Has great difficulty recognizing individuals and values Recognizes individual characteristics Cares for people; but has difficulty producing goods and services Can provide good and services but has difficulty caring for people Many rights of citizenship are forgone for employment A place to express citizenship Because of differences reflected in cultural backgrounds, educational levels, economic status and positional-professional affiliation, misunderstandings can occur based on erroneous assumptions. This is often done unintentionally. Table adapted from Broadwater, 2001.
Defining Multiculturalism It is important to realize that each and every person has a philosophical orientation that is rooted in a cultural base. We are all multicultural. Culture is NECESSARY because it provides a way for people to define themselves, respond to, and influence people, events and their environment. Culture is a cornerstone of motivation for all people. Thus, as librarians, to carry the banner for multiculturalism we must: Know Thyself. You must know who you are multi-culturally (again, none of us are monolithic. You must know what works for you in terms of respect, communication and trust. You must also know what does not work for you. 2) Be a Lifelong Learner. Learn more about communication patterns, social roles, taboos and norms, holidays and special occasions of various cultural families. Read genres beyond your normal reading diet; read what you patrons read so that you understand their interests. 3) Accept What You Know and What You Don’t Know. You can’t know everyone and everything. TRUST your heart, and your sense of sincerity and integrity. “There are no substitutes for sincerity and integrity.” (Broadwater, 2001.)
Defining Multiculturalism American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services. I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas. V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. Adopted June 18, 1948, by the ALA Council; amended February 2, 1961; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.
Multiculturalism Defined Therefore, let us propose a definition for Multiculturalism for Librarians and Educators. With these points in mind: Librarians and educators are keepers and promoters of the American culture. As such, librarians and educators are endowed to:
Ensure high quality reference services and programs
All within the context of materials and services that are applicable, supportive and edifying to all cultures within the diverse American society.
Multiculturalism Defined Therefore, I propose the following definition for multiculturalism in Librarianship: “Multiculturalism in library service is the process of engaging librarians, staff and patron communities in materials that reflect their own personal cultural acceptances, as well the promotion and acknowledgement, acceptance and appreciation of all cultures in a global society that illustrate the historical and progressive diversity of humanity.” - Vanessa Irvin Morris
Librarianship As A Cultural Profession All together, we make up the American culture, the American national identity. One group (i.e. cultural, gender-based, socio-economic, etc.) cannot do without the other; we are all connected; thus all responsible to one another. What kind of librarian are you? - book librarian? - people librarian? - activist librarian? We preserve the cultural information of our society. We support and protect all citizens’ right to freedom of information and equity of access. We promote self-education, and lifelong learning via our clarity of providing materials that answers the information wants and needs of all members of society.
Librarianship As A Cultural Profession LIBRARIANS ARE THE CULTURE KEEPERS OF AMERICA. AS SUCH, WE CANNOT BE PASSIVE, AFRAID OR UNSURE OF WHO WE ARE, OR WHAT OUR PURPOSE IS. WE MUST APPROACH OUR PROFESSION WITH CLARITY OF INTENT, ACTIVISM, INTEGRITY AND AN OPEN HEART. NOTHING LESS IS ACCEPTABLE.
Librarianship As A Cultural Profession As culture keepers, it is our duty to ensure that diverse materials, programming and services are accessible to all people. These materials can be inside the library or in the community. Either way, librarians are responsible for connecting the community with its cultural information. In order to live out this mission, we must be culturally competent in interacting with diverse groups of people. 2 Types of Cultural Competence (adapted from Broadwater, 2001): Individuals become culturally competent in the following ways: 1) They are comfortable with their own cultural heritage and are able to engage self-assessment in order to maximize their own sense of multiculturalism. 2) They develop an awareness and acceptance of differences along with their own cultural knowledge. 3) They understand the dynamics of difference. 4) They have a willingness and ability to adapt their practice to the cultural context of the community. Organizations become culturally competent when the organization and its personnel have the capacity to: 1) value diversity, 2) conduct self-assessment, 3) manage the dynamics of difference, 4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge, and 5) adapt to the diversity and cultural contexts if individuals and communities served.
Librarianship As A Cultural Profession The key to servicing diverse communities in a library setting is: ENGAGEMENT According to the Oxford American College Dictionary the act of “engaging” means to: 1) occupy, attract, or involve someone’s interest or attention, 2) to cause someone to become involved in a conversation or discussion, 3) arrange to employ or hire someone, 4) establish a meaningful contact or connection (as in communities). How do we as librarians and educators, engage our patrons and communities? 1) Readers Advisory / Reference Interview / Customer Service 2) Collection Development and Management 3) Library Programming 4) Community Outreach: person-to-person, promotional materials, social media Another process in which communities develop via engagement is by interacting in a two-way exchange that supports the community. Libraries do this via COMMUNICATION and COLLABORATION. 1) We build partnerships and coalitions. 2) We mobilize resources. 3) We coordinate activities.
Librarianship As A Cultural Profession Wholistic approaches to institutions and communities interacting successfully would include communicating on the basis of mutual respect, inclusivity, patience and trust. This communication can only productively occur when there is knowledge, acknowledgement and appreciation of self and of others. For the front-line librarian that means KNOWING YOUR COMMUNITY. Underserved GLBTQ Homeless Physically Challenged Mentally Challenged Emotionally Challenged Ageism Gender Societal Communities Urban Suburban Rural Religious Cultural Communities Latino/Mexican African/Caribbean/African-American European American Immigrants and Refugees Asian American American and Asian Indian Melungeon/Appalachian 9 times out of 10, there will be a cross-cultural overlap in your library’s community.
“Out of Many, One People” - Jamaica’s National Slogan SERVICING OUR CULTURAL FAMILIES AS LIBRARIANS, THERE ARE SOME TRUTHS WE MUST ACCEPT: 1. ALL PEOPLE ARE DIVINE, IMPORTANT, AND NEEDED ON THIS EARTH. 2. WE ALL CARRY GIFTS AND TALENTS THAT WE CONTRIBUTE TO THE WORLD. 3. EVERYONE IS VALUABLE. Our profession’s adage: “Never judge a book by its cover,” applies to people, too.
Selected Bibliography Broadwater, Gae. Engaging New Audiences in Community Development. Paper presented at the 2001 South Region Community Development Institute, New Braunfels, Texas. Cameron, Susan Chavez, and Susan Macias Wycoff. “The Destructive Nature of the Term Race: Growing Beyond A False Paradigm.” Journal of Counseling & Development 76, 3 (Summer 1998): 277 - 286. Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. The National Center for Cultural Competence [website]. Available at: http://gucchd.georgetown.edu/nccc/; accessed 15 June 2009. McGill Equity Subcommittee On Queer People. [webpage] Available at: / http://www.mcgill.ca/queerequity/; accessed 29 September 2010. Trace Research and Development Center. “A Brief Introduction to Disabilities.” [webpage] WI: College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Available at: http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/population/populat.htm; accessed 23 June 2009. Weaver, Hilary N. Explorations in Cultural Competence: Journeys to the Four Directions. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2005.