Starting Point: We all come from somewhere


This article originally appeared in Issue# 43

A keen memory from my childhood was visiting Aunt Margaret's house where we children could swing on the front gate while the grown-ups sat on the porch tracing the exploits of our Tennessee family back to before the Revolutionary War.

Unlike many other families in this country, their memories did not include a trip through Ellis Island. But the cultural heritage of Appalachia is a gift I treasure - along with a fondness for swings.

As we go to press, the issue of cultural pluralism and ethnic identity is surfacing in headlines nearly every day. Awareness of the media's role in defining, imaging, reflecting and reporting these issues is growing among media-makers and media consumers alike.

We are proud to be on the cutting-edge of this discussion and to contribute this issue of Media&Values to the current public debate. Many thanks to the Institute for American Pluralism of the American Jewish Committee for a major grant to develop the issue as well as invaluable help in outlining the questions to be raised and locating relevant research.

We are pleased that the AJC plans to distribute this issue as a background resource to all participants of the 2nd National Consultation on Ethnic America, June 22-24, 1988 at Fordham University. We hope other organizations will follow their example with quantity orders for mailings, conferences, committees or classes.

One cannot complete an issue on ethnic diversity without recommending as a model our neighbor to the north: Canada. Their national policy of promoting "visible minorities' makes every city and social institution, including the media, a rich and varied ethnic experience.

Much too late in the editorial process, we realized we might have had an article on Canadian broadcasting or on the great National Film Board of Canada. Well... another issue, another time.


"The emotions of prejudice are formed early in childhood, while the beliefs that are used to justify it come later. You may want to change your prejudice, but it is far easier to change your intellectual beliefs than your deep feelings."

— Thomas Pettigrew, professor, University of California / Santa Cruz