Friday, November 10, 2017

Becoming/Being Bicultural

Studying and thinking about Drew Hart’s noteworthy bookTrouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism (2016) stirred me to reflect on a potentially helpful mindset for minorities living in a dominant culture.
The Meaning of “Being Bicultural”
“The term bicultural describes a state of having or inheriting two or more cultures (e.g., one of an ethnic heritage and one of culture lived in) or two or more ethnic traditions.” That is the opening sentence of a helpful article about the subject in an iResearchNet piece about biculturalism (check it out here).
Massey University in New Zealand gives the following explanation of the meaning of being bicultural: 

While becoming bicultural can cause problems for some individuals, for most there are far more benefits than difficulties.
The Experience of Becoming Bicultural
Last Sunday was my dear daughter Kathy’s birthday. She celebrated her 6th birthday in Japan after she and her brother Keith, who is two years older, arrived in that fascinating country with June and me on September 1, 1966.
By that November when we celebrated Kathy’s birthday with a family overnight trip to Hakone National Park near Mt. Fuji, we were well on our way to becoming bicultural.
Being bicultural, though, doesn’t usually mean an equal balance between two cultures. Our children went to English-speaking schools and we spoke only English at home. Our dominant cultural identification continued to be as English-speaking Americans.
Still, the children played with their Japanese neighbors, we became active in Japanese-speaking churches, and we enjoyed participating in Japanese cultural activities.
In my career as a full-time faculty member at Seinan Gakuin University, I was elected to administrative positions of increasing importance—not because I was a gaijin (foreigner/outsider) but because in spite of being a gaijin I was an integral part of the Japanese cultural and educational milieu.
For June and me, as well as for our children, being immersed in and accepting of Japanese culture did not mean giving up our American cultural identity. But we were largely able to become bicultural and to enjoy being a part of two cultures without having to choose one over the other.
Recommending Becoming Bicultural
Drew Hart is a youngish Anabaptist pastor and college professor, and his book introduced above is a good and helpful one. Last month, several of us read his book and gathered to discuss it a few days before he preached at Rainbow Mennonite Church.
Hart is an associate professor at the predominately white Messiah College (in Penn.), his alma mater. In many ways, he is a black man who has “made it” in the predominant white culture—but he is painfully aware of the racism and the injustice that still a part of that culture.
What he says about racism must be taken seriously, and what I say next about becoming bicultural does not downplay the persistent problem of injustice or the pressing need to be aware of and to combat racism in American society today.
Still, I got the impression from reading Hart’s book that he thought he largely had to give up his African-American identity to fit in with the dominant (white) culture. That is when I realized that deliberately seeking to be bicultural could be a possible solution to his, and other African-Americans’, unease at living in the majority culture.
For those within minority cultures, becoming bicultural and being able to function well in the dominant culture need not lessen their identification with or appreciation of their primary culture. 
For people born into a minority culture, becoming/being bicultural is certainly a possibility that promises many positive benefits.

28 comments:

  1. I didn't have room to make reference to it in the article, but I recommend reading "Twoness: Black Biculturalism, "a helpful article by a young black woman. Here is the link: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/cierra-lockett/twoness-black-biculturali_b_5193965.html

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  2. Looks like a good book, Leroy. I'll put it on the list. I cannot remember the exact source (perhaps Wayne Meeks, The origin of Christian morality), but the author develops the metaphor of amphibiousness for the lifestyle of early Christians. They had to live in (at least) two worlds: Roman culture and values, the Semitic values of St. Paul and Jesus. Something about the flexibility you propose makes sense.
    I would think it important to extend your description of your life in Japan as a minority by exploring whether the majority culture of Japan was biased against outsiders (such as you and your family) in a way analogous to the racism experienced by practically any African American person in the U.S. Thoughts?

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    1. Thanks, Milton, for the question in your second paragraph. That gives me the opportunity to share a bit more about this important matter.

      There were some similarities and many dissimilarities in our experience in Japan and the African-Americans' experience in the U.S. While not all Japanese people consider foreigners in the same way, in society at large there certainly is not the kind of racism and prejudice against Western foreigners there as has been, and is, against Blacks in the U.S. There is, however, considerable similarity for other Asians, especially Koreans, in Japan.

      That being said, the full acceptance of "gaijin" into Japanese society is not usual, and we knew some Westerners (mostly North Americans) who felt discriminated against and resentful because they way they thought they were being treated in Japan--but they were people who usually had a bit of a superiority complex and had not made much effort to become bicultural.

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  3. Thinking Friend Eric Dollard in Chicago again shares important comments:

    "Thanks, Leroy, for your comments on biculturalism.

    "Native Americans have also faced the issue of biculturalism. I once had a chat with a Hopi woman at a gift shop on the Hopi reservation in Arizona. She said the alcoholism, depression, and joblessness among the Hopi was partly because the Hopi felt trapped between two cultures. For a long time, the federal and state governments tried to westernized Native Americans by allowing, for example, only English in schools for Native American children. Native American culture was suppressed generally and, sad to say, Christian missionaries were partly responsible.

    "A number of years ago I bought a Canadian Film Board documentary about a Native American tribe in Labrador. The members of the tribe, particularly the younger ones, were dealing with alcoholism and other social issues. The elders decided to begin teaching their native culture--the language, religion, myths, and skills--that are a part of the tribal heritage. The effect was transformative. The members found their roots and found pride, not shame, in their heritage. It is a deeply moving film and certainly it was instructive for me.

    "Native Americans and other peoples of color, who live in a dominant culture not of their own, have little choice but to be bicultural. But this should not prevent them from learning about, taking pride in, and passing on their cultural heritages. Actually, it is imperative to do so since when an aboriginal heritage is lost, we all lose."

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    1. Thanks, Eric, for bringing up the situation of Native Americans. In many ways their cultural struggle has perhaps been even greater than for most African-Americans.

      Your last paragraph is about the main point I wanted to make. Like some African-Americans, some American Indians, it seems, think that to make it in the dominant, white culture they have to give up their Indian culture. Some do that and make it fine, but others resent having to make that choice and suffer various ill effects of that resentment.

      But if people consciously adopt a bicultural stance, then affirming one culture does not entail negating another culture. You said that Native Americans "have little choice," but I am afraid many have not made that a conscious choice of biculturalism that would allow them to be able to live comfortably in both cultures.

      "Feeling trapped between two cultures" is the negative side of living in two cultures. But it is also possible to enjoy the positive aspects of two cultures, affirming and enjoying the benefits of both.

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    2. Charles Kiker here: I did a seven month stint as interim pastor on the Crow Reservation in Montana. Eye opener. I said at that time to some African American friends something to this effect: "Native Americans have suffered more oppression in America than African Americans." And that was not intended to minimize the oppression African Americans have endured.

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    3. Thanks, Charles, for your comments. You may be right -- and that points out, I think, both the necessity and the great difficulty many Native Americans have becoming bicultural.

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  4. I would dare suggest that it would be beneficial for those of us who are white to become bi-cultural, or even multi-cultural. When a member of the dominant culture or speaker of the dominant language of a culture takes the trouble to immerse himself into another culture or language, great benefits are received by both the one entering the new culture and the members of that culture.

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    1. Thanks, T., for your comments.

      I think it is hard for people who live only in a dominant culture to become bicultural. But, as you suggest, seeking to become bilingual is an important step in that direction.

      And while it probably won't lead to biculturalism, actively seeking to make friends with minority-culture people and participating in their cultural activities is an important step in the right direction.

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  5. Having grown up cross-cultural/ multi-cultural, I might have a little jump, but I don't know. Thankfully, the number 2 characteristic on my wish list for a wife was one who was "Third Culture".

    I have friends across the spectrum - politics, economics, nationality, religion, life-style, and had the opportunity to date girls in high school from India, Kenya, Denmark, Sweden, British Columbia, Kentucky, Kansas.

    Two of my favorite mentors were from Germany and South Africa. One of my favorite clients is African-American down in the central city (dinner with them is a treat) - but their neighbor is a BLM militant who has threatened both me (cracker) and them (oreos) with violence. Although it exists, the term "racism" holds no weight for me anymore - just a swear word I have been called too many times.

    I like Paul Chappell's (NAPF - www.wagingpeace.org), approach to the world - people need a friendly, listening ear. That said, we are each different, and find affinities with certain cultures. Some tribes just get along better than others. But it does take a friendly start and and smile to begin. I am looking forward to working with some Syrian refugees tomorrow who are trying to get better at speaking English - Al Salaam Alikum! Two weeks back I was communicating with a dear Uzbek friend to let him know that I am just a phone call away for he and his family if they ever feel threatened by alt-right wackos. Our friendships, whether neighborhood or cross-culture, must run deeper than the name callers, and threats from wacko people and organizations.

    I have only seen two churches in my life which were truly multi-cultural - Nairobi Baptist, and Life 360 Intercultural in Springfield, Missouri. I don't worry about others who affiliate exclusively with those of their own culture - most follow Christ and His commands from a setting with which they feel comfortable.

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    1. Anonymous, thanks for helping me learn about the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), an seemingly important organization that I don't remember heard about previously.

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  6. Here are comments received this morning a little before noon. They are from a woman I know well and consider a good friend. She gave me permission to post her comments in the email with the comments, but in my response I am going to call her as just "D."

    "Leroy, I think this would be worth discussing over coffee. And by that I mean there is so much wrong and potentially offensive in this post that a brief reply will not suffice. Your heart is good. It always is, but, oh my, you so misread what Cierra Lockett is saying. Her piece is one of acceptance of her reality, and the tenor is more one of resignation than optimism. It is certainly not a suggestion for her fellow black citizens to adopt. She is merely sharing her own story, but it is not entirely positive. In the end she talks about how some people will never quite understand how she has integrated two cultures nor accept her for doing it, but she does it nevertheless. I would offer that her story is unique to her (as your story is unique to you, and all stories are unique) and made possible mostly because she is female. And even though some people may never 'get' her, they will not likely see her as a mortal threat. So she may enjoy hip-hop music in public as well as classical. I don't know where she is writing from, but if she were in Lubbock Texas, she would be viewed as a curiosity, possibly someone trying to make a statement, but her life would not be in danger for doing it.

    "When you compare your experience in Japan to 'biculturalism' among African-Americans in the USA, you are comparing apples and elephants. The history of tensions between the USA and Japan are probably most rooted in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The tensions that black Americans feel to this day stem from a complicated history that began with European-Americans enslaving black people, then oppressing and lynching them, then reluctantly half accepting them (but not everyone), and never affording them a feeling of safety or fairness. It also includes their striking back in ways both peaceful (MLK) and violent (Black Panthers). It also includes continuing disparities in economics, justice, etc. I would guess that had you broken a cultural norm in Japan, you might have been forgiven or someone might have explained to you what happened and you were able to adapt. I would guess that if a Japanese police officer pulled you over for speeding and asked for your driver's license, you wouldn't have been afraid to merely reach into your pocket to retrieve it for fear that he would shoot you dead. Reaching into one's pocket for a driver's license is a cultural norm that white men in this country can take for granted, but not black men. So adopting 'biculturalism' for them means talking with as 'white' a dialect as they can muster, in total respect and explaining every move that they are making as they make it -- and even then, they may be shot, no matter how much they embrace both classical and hip hop music. Even Henry Louis Gates Jr. proved not to be immune and was accosted on his own front porch, because police officers thought he was breaking in. I would guess, but I don't know, that you didn't feel unsafe on your front porch in Japan. I would guess that 'the talk' that you gave to your children about embracing Japanese culture along with their own was very different from 'the talk' that black men have with their sons.

    "Back to the Cierra Lockett piece. She quotes W.E.B. DuBois, and he ends on this note about the desires of a black man: He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.' Does that describe how you felt practicing 'biculturalism' in Japan?"

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    1. Well, D, how do I respond to your comments, seeing that you think that in the article I wrote "there is so much wrong and potentially offensive"?

      First, I express my thanks for taking the time to tell me what you think and for giving me the opportunity to clarify and to amplify some of what I was trying to say.

      Just to be clear, D., let me first say that I stated clearly in the article that what I wrote about becoming bicultural "does not downplay the persistent problem of injustice or the pressing need to be aware of and to combat racism in American society today." That was not just a casual statement.

      All you said about the terrible problem that many African-Americans have in the U.S. today is true and speaks to the "persistent problem of injustice" and racism in USAmerican society today. But that was not the issue I was writing about in this article.

      Nor was I in any sense seeking to make my and my family's experience in Japan similar in seriousness to the experience of most Blacks in U.S. society. Rather I was trying to illustrate what biculturalism is and the benefits of becoming/being bicultural. I apologize if I was so imprecise in my writing that I led you to think that I was suggesting that being a minority American in Japan was in any sense as difficult as being a minority African-American in the U.S.

      But there are similarities of being a minority living in a dominant culture in any nation--and, to reiterate, this article was about becoming/being bicultural.

      June talked at some length about this matter recently with an African-American woman who is largely bicultural. She had never thought about it in those terms but seemed to love the idea of being able to affirm her biculturalism. (As you suggest, perhaps it is more difficult for African-American men.)

      Unlike you, I still think that Cierra Lockett was also affirming the benefits of conscious biculturalism. Unless you know more about her than can be learned from her article, I have to disagree with your contention that I "so misread" her. True, she was telling her story--but for what purpose? Surely she wrote it thinking that since she has come to be "at peace" with being "both black and American" she thinks that is desirable for other African-Americans as well.

      And I see that as being what DuBois was advocating also. I agree with what you said about that: he "simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face."

      That is not how I felt practicing 'biculturalism' in Japan--but how I felt there is how I hope that African-Americans can feel increasingly here in the U.S. And it seems to me, he was longing for the very thing that I am recommending in the article.

      It seems to me that there are basically three choices for African-Americans or other minorities in the U.S. (or minorities in any country): (1) To give up their primary cultural identity and fully embrace the majority culture, (2) To cling to only their primary cultural identity and to constantly oppose and fight against the majority culture, or (3) To seek consciously to become bicultural, continuing to affirm with appreciation their primary culture while learning to live in the majority culture.

      If those are the three main options--and if there are other options, I would like to know what they are--then I think that clearly the third option is the best one. That is the option those in the minority culture should seek for their own well-being (as Cierra Lockett apparently thinks) and the option those in the majority culture should help to make more and more possible by learning more about how to appreciate the minority culture.

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    2. The woman who wrote the lengthy comments--and that I responded to with more words than were in the blog article itself--said she found it disrespectful that I just referred to her as "D." I told her I was trying to shield her from possible criticism. She wrote in an email received a few minutes ago, "I own my thoughts. I have the courage of my convictions."

      So, for anyone who may be interested, the woman whom I identified only as "D" is Thinking Friend Debra Sapp-Yarwood.

      And, please, Debra, believe me when I say that I meant no disrespect to you by not using your name to begin with.

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    3. Debra asked that I post this brief response from her:

      "Thank you, Leroy, and as you know from a subsequent email exchange with you, my initial comments were not written in anger, but dismay. I hope someone may find value in them."

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  7. Here are brief comments from Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson in Kentucky:

    "That sounds good to me, Leroy, but I wonder how you relate biculturalism to a society that is multicultural and growing more so."

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  8. Thanks, Dr. Hinson, for your comments--and for the additional issue you raised.

    The Collins online dictionary defines multiculturalism as "a situation in which all the different cultural or racial groups in a society have equal rights and opportunities, and none is ignored or regarded as unimportant."

    Multiculturalism is certainly a growing characteristic of American society, and I think it is of great importance that we seek to recognize the rights and value of all ethnic and cultural groups in the country.

    That being said, I think that people in any minority group still need actively to seek becoming bicultural in the way I defined that in my article. Maybe in rare cases people can become/be tricultural, but it is probably not possible for anyone to become or to be multicultural in the sense that I wrote about being bicultural.

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  9. Here's my off-white privilege response to this issue. My nineteenth century Irish ancestors were not white people, any more than Jews, Poles, Russians, Italians, Arabs and others were. Now, my English ancestors were white, so I am bicultural in an Irish-American sort of way. What I see is a world where "cultural appropriation" is the historic norm, not an aberration, and no culture would be where it is today without it. In particular, white people like myself need to wake up and smell the roses, we owe an enormous cultural debt to many cultures around the world.

    Thomas Aquinas had to rewrite Catholic theology after crusaders came home with the lost writings of Aristotle, preserved through the dark ages by Islamic scholars. The Western world would never be the same again. Roman Numerals were shunted off to clock faces and outline headings after Arabic Numerals blasted them out of mathematics. The Western world would never be the same again. Arabic Numerals only got their name because the West got them from the Arabs. The Arabs got them from the Indians, who had spent so many centuries meditating on the void of the abyss, that they finally saw the zero staring back. The Western world would never be the same again. Western Imperialists stormed through the Americas, taking land, slaves, potatoes, chocolate and so much more, yet along the way amazing examples of native feminism and democracy shown through to a startled white culture. The Western world would never be the same again.

    Black slaves in America produced music, food, and stories without which our Western World is unimaginable. From jazz to barbecue, they made the world richer. White artists from Picasso to Elvis Presley are unimaginable without their black mentors. Modern movies and television content was largely born in the Jewish entertainment industry once found in Catskill resorts in New York. Vaudeville became America. Want to eat out in white America? Thai? Italian? Chinese? French? Japanese? Vietnamese? After all, the most authentic American white food is Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Who wants that? (And where did we get that corn?)

    I am grateful to the cultures of the world that have made my life so much richer. What I see coming is a world culture where we all enjoy a rich shared heritage of all cultures. May I always live in a land with Mexican restaurants and Irish pubs. I am also grateful that some pieces of Western culture of been found to be worth "appropriating," from Yo-Yo Ma playing a cello to the Japanese loving Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Hear 10,000 Japanese musicians perform here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayw4l58IWb8

    By the way, Beethoven entered the world stage as a prodigy on the piano. He had to abandon his career in his twenties when he went stone deaf. Years later, unable to hear a single note, he wrote his 9th symphony, the "Ode to Joy." I trust God had a choir of angels ready at the pearly gates when he arrived.

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    1. Craig, I appreciate your interesting comments about the different cultural contributions to society in general. The world certainly is intertwined in ways we don't often realize. But, this is somewhat different, I think, from the biculturalism I was writing about.

      You mentioned you were "bicultural in an Irish-American sort of way." I wonder in what ways you experience and express your Irish cultural identity.

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    2. Leroy, thank you for your reply. Yes, my "off-white" remarks were somewhat at cross-purposes with the bicultural discussion. I was trying to counterbalance the undertow in our culture that sees hyphenated identity as merely a stepping stone to becoming "American," much like the multicultural programs in education that generate so much controversy. There is much more involved than just getting people to learn English, a process that has been working quite well for centuries as second and third generation immigrants pick up excellent English, even as they still celebrate and honor their ancestral heritage. Perhaps a better model is Christianity itself, wherein we are all citizens of both heaven and earth, and have varying degrees of difficulty balancing and integrating the experiences in a process that does not end until life itself does.

      As for being Irish-American, it is mostly a background, not a lifestyle. Hints of red in my beard turned to gray long ago, and I am more likely to be eating Chinese or Mexican than Irish. Still, sometimes it surprises me, as when my wife and I attended a production of Finian's Rainbow, and were both struck by how much Finian reminded us of my father! (See link to recent production of Finian's Rainbow here: http://spinningtreetheatre.com/finians-rainbow/ )My oldest son married into a German family last year, and had fun with his Irish roots in the process. I enjoy Irish music. Looking for a song I wanted to reference, I was on my third The Chieftains CD before I found "The Long Black Veil" with the song "The Foggy Dew." (Link The Foggy Dew here: https://www.google.com/search?q=foggy+dew+youtube&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwic4u3ohMLXAhWnslQKHW8SAesQ1QIIdygD&biw=1690&bih=1316 ) Now that made me feel Irish, even if a bit weirdly, since my Dempseys were Orange during the war where most Dempseys fought as Catholics. My great-great grandfather Dempsey was one of five brothers who came to Canada, apparently during the potato famine of the 1840s, and he and his wife were reportedly the first couple married in the Anglican Cathedral in London, Ontario. Being a good Yankee, when I visited the place some years ago, I got a blank stare in the local tourist bureau when I asked for directions to the Episcopal Cathedral. Luckily, I figured out my error, and asked the right question. I had a special Irish snicker when I read Shakespeare's four centuries old play of the ancient king Richard II. The play starts with Richard returned to England to discover he had lost his throne to Henry Bolingbroke. Richard had been off fighting a 14th century war in Ireland, apparently without much success, as he had returned with only a few men.

      Now, I am not aware of ever being discriminated against for being Irish, so this may not be a good parallel to other biculturalism. Actually the one flatout discrimination I ever remember was in fourth grade, where a girl turned to me and said, "We don't like Mormons." I thought, "What is the matter with her?" Well, growing up RLDS put me in contact with Mormon history in America, with Mormons run out of Kirtland, Ohio, Independence, Missouri, Far West, Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. The mid-winter expulsion from Far West featured an executive order by the Missouri Governor to exile or exterminate the Mormons, an order which I was startled to discover was still technically on the books until 1976 when Governor Kit Bond finally officially rescinded it. These days, I get in the most trouble for being a liberal who talks too much (when I am not writing too much)!

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  10. I would offer that even the word minority is being critically examined and for good reason, and so I offer this as more food for thought. https://fakequity.com/2016/06/23/why-we-need-to-stop-using-the-word-minority/

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    1. Thanks, Pastor Ruth, for taking time to read my blog article (and perhaps the comments) and offering "more food for thought." I read the article you linked to with great interest.

      Like many words, the term "minorities" can be defined or perceived in such a way that makes it seem undesirable. For most, though, it is simply a descriptive word of an empirical situation and used without any emotional and certainly without any pejorative meaning. Even Drew Hart used "minorities" in the latter way, it seems, over twenty times in his book. If that is a problematic term, why would he use it so readily?

      I was particularly interested in the article because it was written by a person with Japanese ancestry. And Ms. Okuno's suggestion that rather than "minorities" we use the term "people of color" is quite interesting--and problematic. When June and I were a part of a minority group in Japan, we were people of no-color. On the other hand, the main "minority" groups discriminated against in Japan were the "burakumin" (here is the explanation of who they are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burakumin), Koreans, and to a lesser degree other Asians. They were all people of the same "color" as the Japanese. So while "people of color" might work in the U.S., it certainly would not work in Japan and some other countries.

      There is much more I could say about this issue, but that is getting off the point of my article. I was writing about the value of becoming/being bicultural, and that is what I would like to focus on. No one can become bicultural as a person of color in general; that is possible only as one affirms their primary cultural identity in a society dominated by another culture.

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  11. I'd like to offer just a few more comments/concerns, especially since the email you sent asked us to respond to the question, "What problems do you see in what I have suggested? First, I would say that in today's day and age for a white person to focus an article on what might be best for African Americans can itself be problematic. Offering potential solutions is not bad in and of itself, but I guess I would challenge you, Leroy, (as I challenge myself) to think first about what changes or solutions you would propose for white people. One of those challenges, again speaking for myself, is for me as a white person to stop seeing "predominant white culture" as acceptable/just a given to deal with. I understood from Drew that he didn't just think he had to give up his black identity. Rather I heard him say in his book that he has had a lifetime of being forced into learning white history, white theology...that so many schools have uncritically built in curriculum that privileges white knowledge and education and experience. So in order to get an educational degree, he's often forced into educational systems that are based largely on white values and perspectives. This is what, I feel, needs more attention and change.

    In terms of your experiences in Japan, I know you weren't intending to compare the black experience in America to your experience as missionaries in Japan, but when you use that story as your primary example to describe biculturalism it can easily be read that way. For people of color who are Americans, America is their home. Why should people of color have to bend or conform willingly to what you call "majority culture?"

    Those are my thoughts for now. It's a difficult subject to wade into and I admire your willingness to do just that.

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    1. Thank you, Pastor Ruth, for taking time this morning to share more of your comments and concerns. I was serious about wanting people to share their critique of my article, and I appreciate you doing so.
      Concerning what you write first, let me just say that in the last part of the article I recommended biculturalism as being potentially helpful to African-Americans. For those who do not think it is a helpful suggestion, they are, of course, free to disregard it. It is not something I said they must do. It was only a recommendation. But I felt emboldened to make the suggestion because of the quite positive response June received from her African-American friend when she talked with her about it.
      Then you said that I (we) need to stop seeing "predominant white culture" as acceptable/just a given to deal with. Well, I think it is an empirical fact that white culture is the dominant culture in the U.S. If so, then it has to be dealt with as a reality. But I don’t know how you get the idea that I think that everything in white culture is “acceptable.” Before this present article, I had written about/against racism repeatedly—the last being “The Deplorable Persistence of Racism” on Oct. 10.
      I also encourage you to read the blog article I wrote back in 2009 about Dr. James Cone, the leading black theologian in the U.S. Here is the link to that blog article: https://theviewfromthisseat.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-listen-to-dr-cone_13.html . (This is just one of many examples of articles in which I have tried to address that is not acceptable in our dominant white culture.)
      As I have said in response to other comments made above, there are certainly major differences in our situation in Japan and that of African-Americans in the U.S. But regardless of the differences, the experience in becoming or being bicultural is similar in many ways. And the benefits or value of biculturalism is what I was writing about.
      Again, I would like for the discussion to focus on part of the response I made to Debra above. Let me state that again for your, and others’, consideration:

      It seems to me that there are basically three choices for African-Americans or other minorities in the U.S. (or minorities in any country): (1) To give up their primary cultural identity and fully embrace the majority culture, (2) To cling to only their primary cultural identity and to constantly oppose and fight against the majority culture, or (3) To seek consciously to become bicultural, continuing to affirm with appreciation their primary culture while learning to live in the majority culture.

      If those are the three main options--and if there are other options, I would like to know what they are--then I think that clearly the third option is the best one. That is the option those in the minority culture should seek for their own well-being . . . and the option those [of us] in the majority culture should help to make more and more possible by learning more about how to appreciate the minority culture[s].

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  12. I don't often respond to Leroy's blogs, mainly because I usually have read them before they are posted, and for sure give my opinion then! This morning is different, as I feel a little responsible that he even wrote this blog. More on that later....
    First, I want to share some good news with Leroy's thinking friends about a phone call we had from Japan last night. It was from a Japanese man convicted of murder 18 years ago. We had played a small part supporting a Japanese woman who worked hard and fearlessly to save Tetsuya from the death penalty. He was the son of a couple in her employ. After the murder Mrs. M as we still call her, legally adopted him to spare his
    parents the shame of having a son was a murderer. Well, I could write a book on our relationship to Mrs. M. but briefly ---she first contacted Leroy to take a Bible to Tetsuya that he had requested. Then she went to work to convince the victim's family not to support the
    death penalty. (On one such visit she carried a batch of brownies she had asked me to make!) She was successful in that he was spared the death penalty and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Tetsuya took the Bible to heart and became a Christian, even saying he felt
    called to preach. (Through these 17 years Leroy has mentored Tetsuya, visiting him when possible, supplying him with theology books and answering his long, carefully written letters.) He was a model prisoner and was released one year early this month! He called
    us last night to celebrate his freedom. Please join us in giving thanks for Tetsuya's freedom and for his future. Also for Mrs. M, as she suffered a stroke, and is hospitalized now.

    Then last night after that I was in Skype conversation with my Japanese colleague who has been carrying on the Active Parenting program that I introduced to Japan in 1986, for the past almost 20 years. That is to say we still have a foot in our two cultures, and believe we have earned the right to say something about bi-culturalism.

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  13. I don’t have my own response to this post at this time. However, I thought I’d share these interesting book titles that I happen to come across recently. (I have not read these books, but I may in the future.)

    The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe: A History , by Rita Chin

    Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race , by Reni Eddo-Lodge

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    1. Thanks for sharing these book titles/authors, Clif. I don't remember having heard of either of them.

      I would be interested in seeing the content of the second book. My guess is that the title was chosen mainly to get attention and that she really hopes white people will read the book in order to hear what she says about race.

      I was happy yesterday to have a rather extended Facebook Messenger chat with Cierra Lockett, so I am happy she does not have the same position as Ms. Eddo-Lodge.

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  14. Here are some of the comments made by Ms. Lockett in my chat with her yesterday.

    Here is the first thing she wrote after reading my article:

    "I think that biculturalism and multiculturalism are wonderful experiences and tools that can be used to broaden people's perspectives and break down barriers of ignorance and prejudice.

    "However, I think to propose that biculturalism is a solution to be embraced by people from minority backgrounds is too simple."

    She went on to say,

    "People from minority backgrounds, whether racial or otherwise, have no choice but to be bicultural or multicultural because they are raised to adhere to the majority despite their heritage. One can either embrace it or reject it to some degree, but being the 'other' or the minority is an inherent part of our experience.

    "The concept of 'twoness' that I quoted in my article speaks to the fact that people in minority groups often operate knowing that they walk the line of two cultures at once. Sometimes the two can be blended, sometimes not, depending on the situation. In the case of Professor Hart in your article, being surrounded by the majority culture and so little of his minority culture means that he must lean into one over the other for a great deal of time. This can be very easy or difficult depending on the person's own identity, experiences, and goals."

    In my first response to what she wrote, I said, "I agree that biculturation as 'the' solution to people in a minority culture is 'too simple.' As I wrote, recommending becoming bicultural does not downplay the persistent problem of injustice or the pressing need to be aware of and to combat racism in American society today."

    There was much more that we discussed, but perhaps too much to post here. But to the end it was a good conversation, I thought, and when I thanked her for talking with me, she closed by writing, "You're very welcome! Happy to help."

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