On the evening of Wednesday, March 6, UCR Professor of History Emeritus Dr. Carlos Cortés gave a talk titled “Multicultural America in a Globalizing World.” Taking place at the Mission Inn, the event was hosted by the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California. The discussion emphasized the connection between people from different national origins. Cortés defined multi-ethnic as a place with many ethnic races that do not necessarily interact, whereas multiculturalism is a mixing of both cultures and ethnicity.
Following a reception, the event included a lecture and discussion, in which Cortés provided a definition and brief history of multiculturalism. He went on to explain how the US is more than a multi-ethnic society, but a multicultural one. People are becoming less afraid to embrace other cultures, and Cortés used the examples of President Obama and the debate over immigration in America as proof of this. Cortés stated that the US is progressive and “has adjusted to the new ethos of what it means to be an American,” albeit, there is a long way to go before we are a “post-racial society.”
Cortés also addressed issues of acculturation, where a group loses its culture in America. He described the way this happens in five levels: individual, group, inter-group, intra-group and societal.
”The fact that these events are being discussed and debated are signs that we are moving towards improvement,” he said. After the lecture, Cortés remained present for a book signing and question and answer session.
Pauline Truong, a UCR fourth-year public policy major, said, “I really liked how he was really positive about multiculturalism in the US, because in all the classes I’ve taken, we’re [Americans] more multi-ethnic than multicultural…it’s like we tolerate others, [but] to me, multiculturalism is like a blend… I like how he said that now America is moving to a more multicultural direction.”
Cortés is a UCR emeritus professor of history. His projects on multiculturalism have spanned his entire career and have been covered extensively by the media. His work has taken him to many countries and provided him with various opportunities, including faculty membership in the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education. He has also appeared as a guest host on PBS and Nickelodeon productions. His most recent book, “Rose Hill: An Intermarriage Before Its Time,” was published in March 2012.
The World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California is a local forum that discusses national and foreign topics. Lectures hosted by the council are free for students to attend.