U.S. Racial Strife Called Sign of Pride


OSAKA — Racial strife in the United States is not a sign of renewed segregation of various minorities but rather an increase in ethnic pride, according to American scholar Peter Rose.

“If we have problems in the United States, they have very little to do with the diversity of our population,” said Rose, author of several books on U.S. ethnic studies and sociology professor at Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

The U.S. is “trying to come to terms with the fact that it is a very diverse society which is trying to reconcile a difficult past” with the future, Rose told a seminar at the U.S. consulate’s American Center here Monday. “And I think we’ve made considerable progress.”

The lecture was hosted by Gregory Johnson, longtime U.S. diplomat and the first Afro-American consul general in the Kansai area.

The seminar on U.S. minority relations, which Johnson called “very timely,” comes in the wake of Justice Minister Seiroku Kajiyama’s recent remarks likening American blacks to Tokyo prostitutes — a controversy that was not addressed in the 90-minute seminar.

Rose said it was appropriate that the event was being held during Human Rights Week in Japan.

The professor stressed that he did not think racial divisions in the U.S. meant the nation was returning to the segregation of the pre-1960s civil rights era.

“America’s strength is not its homogeneity, which it does not have, but its diversity — a diversity that enriches our culture rather than weakens it,” he said. He termed the resurgence in ethnic pride among respective U.S. minorities “viable pluralism.”

Rose, a self-described liberal scholar, credited the black power movement of the 1960s with ethnic consciousness-raising among other U.S. minority groups such as American Indians, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans.

He also expressed his support for the U.S. employment program known as affirmative action, a social program he also criticized as partially ineffective.

“Unfortunately, as I see it, most affirmative action policies have not really gotten to the core of the problem – the really poor people, whether black, white or Asian,” Rose said.

Rose will join Anthony Cortese, an assistant sociology professor of Southern Methodist University, and Dr. John G. Russell, a Tokyo-based Afro-American anthropologist, at the Tokyo American Center on Friday in speaking on U.S. racial problems and their impact on relations with Japan.