Flyover Multiculturalists

caption: "Latin American Woman"

A typical European

While considering a trip to Houston, I began asking myself, "Is Houston truly a multicultural city? Does it celebrate its diversity every chance it gets?"

The answer came in the form of the glossy, 62-page 'Greater Houston Multi Cultural Guide' produced by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

According to the 'LeTTER FRoM MaYOR' printed therein, "Houston is built on a tradition of diversity..."

According to the 'LeTTER FRoM CoUNTY JuDGE,' "On behalf of the citizens of Harris County, I welcome you to our colorful community... I hope you take some time to not only embrace your own culture, but experience one of the many others that thrive here... ...everywhere you look, we have incorporated diversity in all parts of life here... Faces of every color live, work and play here."

The rest of the brochure consists of various photos of their diverse, multicultural citizenry celebrating their diversity in a most multicultural way. The text is poorly written, perhaps because the author had a quota to fill. Seemingly each paragraph must contain at least one instance of either "multicultural" or "diverse."

After paging through the brochure, someone who's not familiar with Houston or the U.S. might wonder exactly where Houston is and who it belongs to. Is it some island country, where diverse peoples from multicultural backgrounds have come for their own personal or group-related reasons?

The brochure is divided into five sections: 'AFRiCA,' 'AMERiCAS & the iSLANDS,' 'ASiA & MiDDLE EaST,' 'EuROPE,' and 'OF GENERAL INTEREST.' Much like a zoo or Wild Safari might divide its brochure into sections depending on where their animals came from.

For this is basically a zoo brochure. One can simply observe these different cultures, or, like a petting zoo, one can actually interact with the different cultures. But, as a Patagonian Cavy and a Sumatran Tiger are put in separate cages, so too are Houston's diverse, multicultural population.

In the same way that Britney Spears imitators show just how bad she is, Houston's attempts to push multiculturalism show the abject bankruptcy of that ideology. If Los Angeles made a brochure like this, it would be much worse, but it would also be slicker and more subtle. Houston's brochure makes multiculturalism's flaws apparent to all.

The overall theme is one of separatism and division. There is nothing in the brochure about common goals or dreams. These are separate groups pursuing their own agendas.

There are a few American flags in the brochure, but America is presented as just another display. If I didn't see the words "Space City USA" I would wonder what country Houston is a part of.

Houston becomes not a melting pot of people from around the world, but a segregated display. Which is perhaps the way the town's elders want it.

You can order the guide from the CVB, or view some of its diversity online.