Assess the purpose of multicultural literature.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In many ways, the purpose of multicultural literature is to exorcise the past demons of incorrect social configuration.  For so long, "the melting pot" theory of social interaction dominated American sociological thought.  "The melting pot' was used to describe the inclusion of many cultures in one homogeneous group."  Over time, this assessment was revisited because individual experiences were far from homogeneous.  The narratives that people were distinct and unique, and ran counter to the sociology of the "melting pot."  Individuals might have been told that they were part of "one homogeneous group," but their own realities were indicating a different set of social dynamics were at play.

Multicultural literature arose from this reality.  The purpose of multicultural literature is to give voice to that which was previously silent.  The need to "learn to appreciate cultural differences" was  a critical function of multicultural literature.  It was seen as needing to articulate conditions that had been silenced under the "melting pot" view of social interaction.  Additionally, multicultural literature was seen as being able to open a dialogue of differing cultural expressions of identity.  For so long, individuals under the guise of the "melting pot" were unaware of the different experiences that were being forged.  Multicultural literature gave a forum where individuals could engage in discourse with writing and reading as a domain to talk openly about personal and social reality.  Finally, the purpose of multicultural literature was to better interpret groups and societies.  As the "melting pot" theory of social identity gave way to a new heterogeneity, people needed ways to understand and appropriate these new aspects of identity.  This became another purpose of multicultural literature.