Multiculturalism is complex in that it has numerous definitions and has a different meaning, whether positive or negative, depending on individual opinion and governmental ideologies. The main idea is that different ethnic, racial, religious or cultural groups coexist, not necessarily in harmony, alongside one another and a county's system promotes ethnic diversity within its society. Multiculturalism does bring many challenges to a country, sometimes violently in the form of riots and even genocides, however the long-term impacts can be far more beneficial, essentially overriding any negatives it may bring.
The ever increasing integration of ethnic groups into pre-existing societies has resulted in the emergence of three main policies used by governments internationally regarding this. By far the most negative of the three is separation, in which people of different ethnicities who have little in common with the majority population should be kept separate as a result of their differences. This became apparent in Australia during the 1960's which pursued a 'white Australia' migration policy, in that any skin colors other than white were not allowed to enter the country. Although it did not last for a long amount of time, it would have had a huge effect on the people living in Australia, who would have been brought up to believe that other ethnicities were inferior to their own. Also, as Australia is seen as a key international political player, other countries may have been led to believe that their policies were acceptable and followed suit. This would have been a major setback for achieving multiculturalism and racial tolerance, making the possibility of different ethnic communities living alongside on another more challenging. However, the fact that the policy lasted only a few years suggests that people were already beginning to accept the fact that the world was changing into a more multicultural accepting society, and separation policies only hindered this for a short period of time, so this challenge faced was cancelled out in the long run.
The second multicultural policy can also create challenges within a society. Assimilation expects new migrants to lose their distinctiveness, including beliefs and style of dress, and adopt the cultures of the host country. It can result in harsh, even extreme measures on the behalf of the majority population to eradicate minority cultures which have not blended in well. For example, during the 1920's America saw the development of the KKK (Klu Klux Klan), an extremist Christian organisation who performed measures of genocide and lynching on people of different ethnicities and religion, despite America's 'Open Door' policy to attract international migrants to work in the country. This is a severe example, however it shows that even though a country can welcome migrants and people from varying cultures and ethnicities, it often faces the challenge of encouraging it's people to comply with them, and in a country as big as America (at 9,827,000km² to be exact) with over three-hundred million people, it is impossible that every single person will accept multiculturalist societies, and difficulties will continue to arise in the future. Even if a country politically is pushing for international migrants for whatever reason including their economic contribution to the country through labor, it is often the will of the population within it that can only make multiculturalism work because the power of free will and freedom of speech overrides these policies.
In more modern times, multicultural has become assumed that it has the same meaning as multi-ethnic. People who are of the same ethnicity are often presumed to hold the same cultural beliefs, which is not often the case. These assumptions can result in misunderstandings on the behalf of both majority and minority...