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We are already multicultural-multinational-multiracial


As we start a new year, let us consider how we might see each other and our world with new eyes. What is God's eye-view for those God created?

As a shy, but curious person, I'm glad I'm a journalist, because I can ask questions to come to know people I interview and give voice to their stories. In training writers, I encourage them to assume the person they interview is from another faith, culture or language, so they ask questions to go beneath the surface.

I relish inviting people to recognize their similarities and celebrate the nuances of their differences so they can enter and be enriched by the current and future multicultural, multifaith, multilingual, multinational and multiracial world.

What do we see when we look at someone of another culture, nation or race? What do they read into our glance of wanting to know them? What expectations have we internalized from media of choices being either/or, black/white, racist/anti-racist, oppressed/oppressor, as if there are no other choices, colors, voices or relationships.

Some assume Eastern Washington is white supremacist, because there are some white supremacists here. There are white supremacists everywhere. In the 1980s and 1990s, media gave disproportionate coverage to pockets of extremist, violent white supremacists. They were/are here and are dangerous. We need(ed) to know. Awareness spurred powerful human rights efforts that had much less media coverage. Those efforts continue. We need(ed) to know.

The Fig Tree continues its commitment to give voice to the multicultural, multifaith, multilingual, multinational, multiracial voices in the region—to encourage and to build solidarity with them.

We internalize "isms" from media images that speak to our fears, creating prejudices and stereotypes.

While some are stirring a backlash, I embrace our nation becoming a majority people of color by 2045.

In reality, we are already a multicultural, multifaith, multilingual, multinational, multiracial nation. We just close our eyes because the black/white mindset keeps us from seeing what already is.

For example, I grew up in the 1950s in what seemed to be an "Anglo" New York State—except for the cultural diversity brought by Italians, Germans, Swiss, Dutch, French, Puerto Ricans, African Americans, the Haudenosaunee and Méti who intermarried and many more who became "invisible."

Beyond meat and potatoes meals, I was introduced to pizza, spaghetti, Indian and Chinese food. After moving in the 1960s to Oregon, I encountered Mexican, Central American and Asian people and foods, and international students. Then I studied in Vienna, immersed in Viennese language, culture, history and cuisine.

Pivotal was living six months 1969-70 with 60 people from 40 nations with the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Institute outside Geneva, Switzerland. That and attending WCC assemblies in Vancouver, BC., Australia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, South Korea and (online) Germany immersed me in diversity. As people of many races, ethnicities, classes, confessions and ideologies, we gathered as equals.

I gained insights into their lives, struggles and perspectives. Now when I see news about their countries, I see it through the lens of knowing and loving people there, and wondering how they are affected by and affecting policies and lives. My prayer life is busy. My ties continue through phone calls, letters, emails and Zoom.

I sought out cross-cultural/racial relationships with Scandinavians and Clatsop in Astoria, a Nigerian international student in Fresno, and bringing international students to farm families and the Coeur d'Alene reservation when I was in Tekoa.

Since starting The Fig Tree and through family friends, my multicultural, multilingual, multifaith, multinational, multiracial ties have blossomed. With each interview, I gain new eyes. With sharing in cultural events, I continue to learn. I have traveled as my children studied and worked in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and China. Sharing in the lives of my part-Tongan grandchildren immerses me in the language and insights of that culture—enriching my life.

I relish living in the diversity that has filled my life, allowing me to build relationships, challenge injustices and promote equal opportunities for the people in our nation and around the world.

 Without equal opportunities in education, jobs, pay, housing, healthcare and access in democracy, just having more people of color won't make the difference we need. When policies allow people who are excluded to participate and benefit fully, all of us will benefit.

 So, if some see me as just a gray-haired white woman, they miss seeing my heart, my essence. They miss the nuances of my lived experiences, my fears and loves, my risks and losses. They miss seeing me.

If some see anyone only by their color, race, religion, language, culture, class or any other difference, they may miss the person and succumb to stereotypes that play into divisions those in power promote to hold onto their power and wealth.

Let us value nuances beyond either-or perceptions. The varied African, Asian, Australian, European, Latin American, North American, Pacific Islander and Indigenous nations and ethnicities there are unspoken understandings, perspectives and wisdoms that arise from their traditional cultures and lived experiences.

We cannot assume that divisions like  those between Israel and Palestine are impossible to bridge, because we see unity between the Palestinian and Israeli mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and friends who have lost children, siblings and friends in the war and ongoing oppression. For years, they have banded together to end the violence.

We who identify as multicultural, multinational and multiracial, in solidarity with all who are excluded, marginalized and stereotyped, have cause for horror when we hear a would-be dictator denounce people who are not white, who do not share his perspectives and who do want to celebrate that our nation is and is becoming more multicultural, multinational and multiracial—more colorful—than ever.

My life is enriched by my roots and identity being from more than one culture, nationality and race. So is everyone's.

Let us celebrate the diversity of our world, society and community. Let us see through divide-and-conquer politicians seeking power. Let us see beyond polarities and celebrities overplayed by some media for profit. Let us act together now.

Let us celebrate who we are. Let us find unity, equity and justice in our diversity.

Mary Stamp - editor

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, January 2024