This Week in Diversity: Melting Pots and Purity

This week, we’re looking at the idea—the fallacy—of purity: racial purity, national purity, and cultural purity.

Let’s start with South Korea, which is experiencing a clash between its historical ideas of ethnic homogeneity and its increasing immigrant population. A New York Times article draws attention to both the prevalence of racism in South Korea and the new efforts that are being made to stem it. It also highlights how closely ideas of racial purity are tied to sexism.

England and the US have their own issues of purity, some of which Andrew Sullivan explores in Scratch white America and beneath it is black. As a born Englishman who moved to the United States decades ago, Sullivan shares how, to an outsider, the black influences on American culture are apparent in everything from music to books.

And, along with music and literature, what’s one of the greatest expression of national pride and culture? Sports, of course! American sports, once an unbroken sea of white, has come a long way to get to the diverse teams that just duked it out in the World Series. Still that long way took a long, long time, and the legacy of segregation lingers in the minds of many fans.

Purity isn’t just an idea of the privileged. Ta-Nahesi Coates reflects on living in an all-black, disadvantaged community in the eighties and watching light-skinned, multiracial—or faux-multiracial—musicians: “We felt–I felt–that these guys were taking our music, but not taking us,” and how differently those music videos look to him now.

But, of course, demographics point out that there’s isn’t really an average American anymore. Does that mean we’re finally living in a postracial world? no—and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Welcome to the melting pot. Grab a good book and make yourself at home.

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