Multiculturalism, not culturalism

I was down in London this weekend, doing a lot of thinking. I’m not satisfied, fully, with my theories of disability. Everyone is equally different, and therefore everyone has equal claim tot be termed normal, yes, but this has ramifications for multiculturalism. Sometimes, we need ‘difference’. Its cool – yesterday in the park people with families from all over the world were walking; I love the mix of cultures, but this could be seen to contradict some of my attitudes to disability. Should I ask everyone to assimilate; do my fears concerning the disability sphere ghettoising it’s us and them mentality and therefore ghettoising themselves not also apply to any other subculture? If so, should I not attack multiculturalism rather than praising it?

Of course not. Let me put it this way: I love mixture. I love the mix of cultures we have in Britain. I love having Greek Turkish or Indian shops around the corner. To me, the danger lies in a failure to mix. If we look inwardly too much, fettishiising our disability, focussing only on disability politics and how ‘we are hated’ that the danger lies. If members of any other subculture – say, the Greeks – chose only to interact with their selves, rarely spoke to non-Greeks and found it vitally important to ram the fact that they were Greek down everyone’s throat, then they would effectively ghettoise themselves. By no means should he stop worshipping in Greek churches or drinking ouzo, just as we need to continue to use the gadgets of disability. On the other hand, a lightwriter is a communication aid, not a mark of culture; it is my voice, and I cannot leave it behind. If I, say, went from England to US, I’d theoretically swap cricket for baseball, as culture is somewhat fluid; disability is more fixed. The alllusion to culture onlyy holds so far, but it nevertheless holds. I guess a balance needs too be struck. It is only when it goes too far, and you refuse to change or mix that it becomes dangerous. Until then, vive l’difference.

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