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Multiculturalism        < Previous        Next >

 

The American Race: Woven of Many Strands

 

Today's Snack: Take a handful of pretzel sticks in your hand and eat them as if they were one big piece. Then take another handful . . . and another! Wash it all down with a glass of apple juice.

 

_______________

 

Supplies:

 

Five or more spools of thread, ideally white, dark brown, light brown, copper, silver, green, gold, orange and purple

Ruler

Scissors

 

Here's a way to understand how important it is to have unity. In the United States, we believe we all come under one flag no matter how different we might be individually - how different our backgrounds might be, our jobs, our grades, our religions . . . and our skin colors.

 

A famous African-American writer named Ralph Ellison put it best. Ellison (1913 - 1994), was author of the 1952 book Invisible Man. It won the National Book Award in 1953. It described in a powerful way how it felt to be black in the 1940s, when white people practically ignored those of other races, as if they were invisible.

But Ellison refused to sink into bitterness and hate over racism. Instead, he pointed out what is good about the racial blending that we have in this country:

 

 

America is woven of many strands. I would recognise them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many. This is not prophecy, but description.

 

 

 

 

Actually, the idea that something that is united from many pieces is better and stronger than something that's just by itself dates a lot farther back than the 20th Century, when Ellison was writing. One of the oldest books of the Bible, Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon around 935 B.C., covered the same ground in Chapter 4, verse 12:

 

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 

It's even more true when there are more than three cords. Here's a way for you to check to see if this is true. Take a spool of thread, pull out some thread alongside your ruler, and measure out 12". Cut it off.

 

Take the 12" of thread and try to break it. Can you simply pull it apart? Can you hold both ends and snap it apart over the back of your chair?

 

You probably can. One thread is not all that strong.

 

But now let's say that that one thread represents just one of the races that make up the United States. Let's have other threads, representing the other races, join that thread into a strand.

 

You could symbolize this by cutting out more 12" lengths of thread in these colors, representing these races:

 

White: Caucasian

 

Dark brown: African-American

 

Light brown: Hispanic

 

Copper: Native American

 

Silver: Alaskan Inuit / Aleutian Islander

 

Green: Polynesian / Pacific Islander

 

Gold: Asian

 

Orange: Middle Eastern

 

Purple: All others

 

Now you have nine strands of thread, each representing a different skin color. Twist these threads around, between your fingers, to make them into one strand.

 

NOW try to break this new, united strand. Can you do it with your bare hands, just by pulling apart, or over the back of your chair, the way you could with the one single strand?

 

Most probably, not.

 

See how much strength comes from unity? May the people of our nation always remember that that's so.

 

Now wrap those threads around your wrist and have someone tie a double-knot and clip the ends. Wear your "American Unity" bracelet proudly!

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Multiculturalism 06 2009

 

 

 

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