Many of us are enriched by the diversity we encounter in our lives. When we listen to the voices of those whose race, ethnic backgrounds, religion, culture, or country of origin are different from our own, we learn more about the complexity of human experience, more about the world we live in, and more about ourselves. We learn to appreciate both the differences and the sameness so basic to human life. "As in the analogy of the Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney song, we are all side by side on a keyboard--each alike in relation to the whole but each different as discrete parts of that whole. In our joint contributions to the whole, we can create harmony or discord" (Donna Gorrell, "The Rhetoric of Cultural Diversity")Kaleidoscope's intent is to allow the full range of the keyboard to be heard, in strong melodies and rich chords, in point and counterpoint, in all the variety which creates the music of human experience.
If we do not truly listen to and participate in this rich diversity, we diminish ourselves. We allow ourselves to remain "victims of monoculturalism," as Barbara Ehrenreich calls it, content with the "narrow and parochial" education "that has left us ill-equipped to navigate a society that truly is multicultural" ("Teach Diversity--with a Smile").
Kaleidoscope is intended as a vehicle for those voices which are not frequently heard; indeed, Anthony Vigil has accurately described Kaleidoscope's mission as direct responsibility "for acknowledging and printing those voices . . . traditionally shrouded by systematic and ethnocentric oppression."
Yet multiculturalism is not consistently defined, and people are not in agreement about those voices that are shrouded by ethnocentric oppression. While SCSU cultural diversity mandates are targeted to African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians, the institution itself considers linguistic minorities--such as Africans, Pakistani, and Asian Americans--when reporting the status of cultural diversity at SCSU.
In fact, some tackling the issues of multiculturalism argue that different languages and "accents" exclude people from membership in the "club" (Frank Smith). For this reason, bilingual poetry is readily becoming an expression of cultural diversity on the East and West coasts. Those viewing language and culture as shaping experience would say that a poem written in two languages provides two cultural experiences.
Next year, bilingual entries must reflect cultural content as well as cultural perspectives. In the meanwhile, I realize that not all readers will approve of bilingual inclusions; nevertheless, I believe that such issues need to be publicly raised, honestly and respectfully discussed and explored, and resolved within the community. We need to begin the dialog so that our voices can achieve harmony rather than discord.
First, I thank St. Cloud State University's Cultural Diversity Committee. The Committee not only approved funding for Kaleidoscope, but also had the courage and honesty to make two substantive suggestions: that submissions for SCSU faculty and staff be open rather than solicited and that the highest quality student work in each category be awarded. These suggestions, incorporated into the publication, have significantly improved the magazine.
Second, I thank Kaleidoscope judges and production staff: given the tight timeline between notification of funding and production deadline, judges and staff did an extraordinary job. I am particularly grateful to Anthony Vigil and Steve Klepetar, who raised central questions about editorial policy. Steve also assisted in the huge job of copy-editing essays and poetry. In addition, I appreciate Sandy Barnhouse's help in bidding out the magazine.
Finally, I acknowledge the many students, staff, and faculty who submitted their work; without their effort, this collection would not have been possible, and many of us would have been unable to hear the rich diversity of voices speaking in this publication.
This magazine is produced by the Write Place and is funded through a St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud, Minnesota) Cultural Diversity Committee allocation.
Contributors retain all rights to their work.