Is it Possible to be Too Multicultural?

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People who see us together call us the United Nations family. We are stopped constantly by people who ask, “Are these all yours?” I confidently tell perfect strangers that my family represents four different countries. Our diversity is something that I am very proud of.
However, it is difficult to continue to teach your children about their history and their culture while at the same time introduce them to their new culture and family. Between trying to get Matea to the Cinco de Mayo event, driving Jared to an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, teaching my newly adopted Russian-speaking child all about America (while maintaining his heritage) and living our life as a cohesive family, I have to ask myself this question, “Is it possible to be too multicultural?” How much culture enhancing, reading, ethnic events and networking is necessary? Don’t get me wrong, I am going to be teaching my children about their culture for a long time. But there are moments when I look at our family and think that even though we are Ethiopian, Ukrainian, Guatemalan, Jewish, Christian and all-American, we are also one big family that has its own identity.
There’s a quote from the Bible which resonates with me about this. Jesus identified all of us across the globe as one family, not separated into all of our sub-categories.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
That is it say, national boundaries, social status and gender don’t matter. We are all brothers and sisters.
My friend, who is biracial, tells me that she identifies with both her African-American and Irish backgrounds. And she also doesn’t. I feel similarly about my family—we represent Ethiopia, Ukraine, Guatemala and the U.S., but we don’t represent them fully either. We are one unidentifiable family. While it’s important to celebrate our cultures, chasing them to stress our multiculturalism is too much sometimes. We aspire that the people who ask us about our family in the supermarket can simply see us as a family first.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you so much for this! It is a rare perspective. We too try hard to bring our son’s culture into our home – art, food, Amharic classes, friends, etc. – but I am constantly reminded that so much of what we are “chasing” (as you eloquently put it) is manmade. However, family is timeless and crosses boundaries, as does our relationship with God and how he sees us. That is the biggest thing I want to teach our son, though I realize not everyone will view our family that way. Refreshing to read your thoughts!

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