Intercultural Dialogue

Global Index (ICDI): United States


Race and ethnicity constitute the key markers of identity, permeating social discourse in the US. After four centuries of race relations, characterised by slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and civil rights struggle, the society is yet to come to terms with its multiracial reality. Despite its demographic diversity, multiculturalism has never been affirmed in legislations. Instead, the US is often considered as a melting pot of multiple cultures, with migrants generally to assimilate to the dominant Anglo-European culture.

Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ensures the protection of minorities against discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion and national origin. The US’ approach towards racial and ethnic minorities is not uniform, varying from state to state. In some states, particularly those with significant cultural diversity, multicultural principles are often adopted in schools although there is no federally mandated multicultural policy. While there are no funding schemes for ethnic organisations and activities, since the civil rights legislations of the 1960s, affirmative action policies have been widely implemented at the federal level. Structural racism and a broken immigration system are among the most politically contentious policies that have long unsettled the US society. In the absence conditions conducive for meaningful intercultural relations, exclusionary nationalism and racism may exacerbate the division within the society.


The United States of America has achieved an ICDI score of 0.697. Scores above 0.70 in the components of intercultural attitudes, minority inclusion and freedom and rights indicate a favourable landscape for intercultural opportunities to emerge. On the other hand, relatively mixed scores in the structural and legislative dimensions signal a less positive climate for legislative protections and social connectedness. Above average scores in the components of Anti-Discrimination and Inequality, signal the presence of anti-discrimination and multiculturalism laws and favourable conditions for the promotion of economic quality, intergenerational social mobility, and education attainment.

Current Situation and Outlook

The US’ scores in the opportunities dimension can be related to opportunities for minority representation and media freedom and rights. However, lower scores in the components of multiculturalism and social contact indicate a lack of diversity policies low migrant integration measures. The overall ICDI score for the United States can be improved by increasing platforms for social contact, encouraging cultural participation between the different ethnic communities across nation and promoting multicultural policies. These measures will also aid in strengthening the country’s intercultural attitudes towards different communities and its global social tolerance index.

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