What it means to be Multicultural in St. Louis, Missouri
Merriam-Webster defines multicultural: of, relating to, reflecting, or adapted to or including many different cultures, diverse cultures. It is further \defined as Of, relating to, or including several cultures. Of or relating to a social or educational theory that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than in only a mainstream culture. (This description feels very unfeeling and vague.)
Having lived in St. Louis since 1970, my family has really seen the city's transformation from post segregational redlining to coming into its own with a constant stream of fresh immigrants revitalizing the diversity of the populous. There was a time when people of color knew not to cross Market Street (the dividing line) South, and white people were afraid to cross it going North. Until a few decades ago, it was almost impossible to buy simple everyday immigrant groceries or even find a place to worship. In the not too distant past, it was also considered taboo to marry outside ones faith or caste or race. Many people today though they tolerate it viscerally, still find it hurtful or offensive if it were their child. It is repugnant that even today,especially in the immigrant community, marrying outside the faith or the race is looked down upon and may even spell social death on certain levels. What does it mean to be Multicultural? Especially in our large small town of St. Louis, Missouri?
It means wrapping your arms around EVERYONE! It means including all into your family! It means celebrating the diversity of cultures and highlighting the beauty of unconditionally welcoming the merger. Stepping up and welcoming them personally, individually into your home, into your houses of worship. It means finding ALL of the common ground that you can by seeking out real information and educating yourself and others. It means attending full services at different houses of worship, at different dinner tables and putting in the time to know people personally and candidly, It means having the hard, respectful fact finding conversations about religion and politics that everyone seems to want to avoid these days.
If the past is any indication: Avoidance only breeds and perpetuates ignorance. Racism was born from Fear and Ignorance and it is their most terrible offspring. Multicultural is not a badge that you can just put on and take off when it is popular/convenient or to make a sale or to use as a clever tag-line. Yes, until you are truly ready and are doing these things, TODAY and EVERYDAY, you cannot and should not attempt to wear the title of calling yourself MULTICULTURAL in STL or anywhere for that matter.
Wrap your arms around your global family and Love Thy Neighbor.
Big Bow Events, LLC
St. Louis' First and Finest Multicultural Event Specialists