Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.I am not against being proud of one's heritage. I understand it, it's something that helps us all better understand who we are. In my city, we have people from all over the world living here. It's nowhere near what it is in New York, Los Angeles, or a Chicago, mind you. But there's a good mix of international flavor here (certainly more than many people that have never visited here, may think). We have Mexican, Italian, German, French, Greek, and Middle Eastern festivals. We have restaurants that serve those same cuisines, as well as from Russia, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam, Morocco, Turkey, and many others. Multiculturalism, within itself, is not a bad thing. It gives us all more choices and helps promote learning.
Planning was easier before a new crop of ethnic groups pushed for inclusion. Students of Asian heritage were once content with the Asian–Pacific Islanders ceremony. But now there are separate Filipino and Vietnamese commencements, and some talk of a Cambodian one in the future. Years ago, UCLA sponsored an Iranian graduation, but the school’s commencement office couldn’t tell me if the event was still around. The entire Middle East may yet be a fertile source for UCLA commencements.
But when we have something going on like what is being reported in this article, it makes me wonder how many have forgotten the lessons of Rome and other multicultural civilizations. Many of them tried to bend over backward to accommodate a variety of people and over time, it was a contributing factor to their overall demise.
I mean, how much is too much? When will everyone be happy and content? How far is this allowed to go in other countries?
To not allow someone to express themselves in a language they know or to practice the traditions they or their ancestors grew up with, is deplorable. But it's an entirely different issue altogether, when each and every group demands to be accommodated by a country that has so graciously accepted them. Not every country is willing to do this, much of it is for this very reason, right here.
If I go to a German or French University and earn a degree, is it realistic and practical for me to think I will get a commencement, especially for Americans? If I go to China, is it fair for me to demand that they accommodate me, because I do not speak Chinese?
As one who lived abroad for two years (many years ago), I can tell you that I would have never dreamed of expecting anyone I met in Germany, France, Spain, or Holland to go to such extremes for me. I made every effort to learn the languages and customs, and to not violate any social mores along the way.
Because I was a guest in their country, not the other way around. And I appreciated the opportunity to live and work in a foreign land, seeing and learning things that were inevitably going to become an integral influence in my life, thus making me a more intelligent and well-rounded individual.