We had an interesting debate in my Philosophy class the other day: we were discussing, amongst other curious ideas, whether the British government’s philosophy of multi-culture was a good thing. Our teacher mentioned that a lot of the conflicting feelings over it came from the fact that, back in the 50s and 60s, immigrants to Britain would assimilate into the culture. However, in recent years, that hasn’t been happening because of a push for multi-culture, and now there are people living in Britain who want nothing to do with the British and cling to their own culture, refusing the society they live in.
Do you think this is right? Which do you think is better: multiculturalism or integration?
This is a topic which directly affects me, but which I don’t often think enough about. I was born in England, and I grew up in London for almost a decade. Then my mother took us to an African country I won’t specify for a few years to “experience our culture,” and when we all grew a bit fed up with that we came back to Britain. I have always considered myself British. I suppose you could say that I’ve assimilated (though God, I hate that word.) Granted I’m African too, but when you’re in Africa and you speak English with a English accent, you’re as good as foreign to the locals. I never really fit in there. Of course, I’m aware that there are people in Britain who feel that I don’t fit in here either, whether it’s because of my skin colour, my unpronounceable last name or the fact that I have a few African songs on my phone.
I don’t know how I feel about multi-culture. On one hand, it does teach us so much more about the world, it reminds you that you can’t hide away in your little town when there’s a whole world of languages and culture and people across the seas. It’s lead me to fall in love with Chinese culture, perhaps a poor example, but a personal one. On the other hand, yes, there can be tension and hate and violence when people don’t want to understand each other. There are the people who reap the benefits of a society like Britain or American or wherever else, but reject its culture and people and rules. I’m set against such behaviour, which I have personally encountered and also seen in the way expatriates (who are also immigrants) act in other countries.
Is integration the way forward? Should we all “assimilate” into the same culture? Or do we need some sort-of balance? To consider oneself both part of the culture you live in and yet be able to have some respect/understanding/pride of the culture of your ethnicity?
Ah, it’s a fierce debate over here. Our Prime Minister says that multiculturalism has failed, many parties push for a ban on immigration (I definitely agree with a cap, as Britain is a finitely-sized country) and in the middle of it all there’s a generation who don’t know whether they’re meant to “stick to their roots” or embrace the society in which they grew up. I want to believe that we can get along, and I don’t yet know whether that means having many cultures living side by side or having the nation adopt a single one. But I am starting to believe that integration without losing all aspects of an ethnic culture (which is possible) is the way forward.