Americans need to develop their own philosophy of cultural pluralism, Msgr. Geno Baroni of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs said yesterday at a conference on ethnic music recordings.
The development of a homegrown cultural democracy is necessary to implement economic and political democracy and understand American urban problems, he said.
"We seem to think deep down that we're going to level out and be the same," he continued. "But that won't happen. America is not a melting pot."
Baroni also said American government was in need of domestic policies that will legitimize cultural pluralism.
"We need to take account of all people," he contended. "The media makes all working class people look alike. My sister is not Edith Bunker. A mechanic only sees himself in an Alka Seltzer commercial sitting by the bed burping."
The conference at the library of Congress is titled, "Ethnic Recordings in America: A Neglected Heritage." The three-day event, which runs through Wednesday is designed to focus national attention on ethnic music and spoken-word recordings produced in the U.S. since the turn of the century.
Attending the conference are scholars, producers, performers and collectors.
Pekka Gronow of Helsinki, Finland, said that between 1910 and 1920 more ethnic than English-language recordings were released in this country.
Richard K. Spottswood, editor of Folk Music in America, said there was no plausible reason why American recording companies did not record native American music until the 1920s. The first recordings of ethnic music, he said, date back to 1896.
The conference continues today with sessions on the making and marketing of ethnic records and the role of music and recordings in ethinic community life.