Culture - A Weapon Against Racism
Based off certain social events over the last few years, I’d like to share my thoughts on how if maybe we focused more on experiencing other cultures we may support healthy social environments that ultimately minimize concerns with racism. Social divide has become evident over the course of the last 5 years. What people believed to be gone or we had evolved beyond, reared its ugly head again in racism. I believe that the divide we see often in America has fallen heavily on social environments that lack multi cultural experiences. Some of these social environments are often large cities, where people eat the same foods, listen to the same music, and they only associate with their own culture. Many cities are still segregated into areas of black, white, Latino, or Asian, and I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with cities being carved out this way, my concern is that when the people do not experience even the different cultures in their own cities. I believe that environments that lack multi cultural experiences create a certain amount of bias against other cultures unintentionally.
Racism, such a touchy subject right, it’s like how dare you, who do you think you are? Well I’m a victim of racism, that’s all, yes I’ve been called the "N" word, I’ve been a victim of racial profiling, and I’ve suffered from the racial bias set forth by society. But my intent isn’t to play martyr, but to provide my perspective on what might be missing in regards to how we can help address racism. I truly believe that culture has everything to do with your perspective on people, so if you don’t know about other cultures, it becomes easy to be judgmental or biased against them. In some cases that judgment or bias can lead to a certain amounts of racism . So please, don’t be triggered, give me a second to explain, and you can judge me after if you like, fair?
A couple years ago I was sharing feelings on the James Floyd incident. In my comment I happened to mention my black perspective on a persons post on FB. The person was triggered immediately on the fact that I called out my black perspective. He called me racist for calling out my blackness and that he does not believe in color. Obviously I was confused by his statement and I did try to understand his perspective. But his perspective was that if we didn’t look at each other’s color then there would be no racism. Though in some aspects what he is saying is true, it lacks connection, because it’s not just about color, it’s about culture. I come from many cultures and so do you, many of which are affiliated with color, and quite frankly you should proud of your color and you culture both of which should not be ignored.
So in short we agreed to disagree, he really wasn’t someone I knew, so I unfriended him and moved on. Had I really known him I might have spent more energy working on understanding each other. But honestly I was in an emotional place with things and needed to move on from conflicting perspectives like his. Today I might have more mental capacity to engage someone like him, because we are associated thru work, but at the time I had no emotional space for him.
So back to my perspective on Culture let’s tackle it:
By being open minded
By working to understand each other
Understanding the cultures we come from
My focus for this blog will be solely in regards to item three above, if you can’t get passed items one or two, most likely you will never accept item three anyway.
But for those willing, let’s get into this culture discussion and unpack the colors associated.
Color and Culture go hand in hand, there are so many cultures full of different colors. So we should not specifically identify people by color, but we are visual people so it’s our primary tool to identify with. Beyond color we should have another list of questions to associate with people.
Where are they from
What do they eat
What kind of music do they enjoy
Basic right, but powerful, three questions that support getting to know basic things about someone that may lead you down a path that supports understanding their culture.
Why you say:
Where they are from: Not all black people are from the south in the US, most black Americans are from somewhere else. Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Canada, Europe, etc. Same goes for white people, brown people, and yellow people, We are all from somewhere else, so the black lady you have been working with for years, you may associate with just being black. But if you ask, you might find out that she is 2nd generation Dominican Republican and speaks Spanish fluently.
What do they eat: Food is the intergalactic tool in breaking social barriers, breaking bread has been used as a social tool as far back as we can remember, its how business gets done, and it’s the fundamental basis of Thanksgiving. Food is so powerful, most likely if you think about the different cultures of food you eat, it may say a lot about you. If you truly want to expand on your cultural experience make a friend of a different culture take you to eat their food and ask them to teach you how to eat it! Don’t just show up to Panda Express thinking you'r eating Chinese food, you have a Chinese friend, ask them to take you to eat Chinese food. You will be surprised in other foods you may have never tried, you may gain experience on the different sauces and how to use them, and most importantly you will spend time learning about your friends culture.
Music: Another universal tool that can help you understand someone's culture and what they connect to, is by understanding the music they listen to. You may not like gangster rap, but there is a whole lot of context in it about what is going on in the inner city’s across the US. The same goes for Banda Music, Reggaeton, Country, and pretty much any genre of music. It can help you understand the culture someone relates to which supports the make up of who they are. The world is a musical place and getting to know the music of other cultures is a great way get to know people further and how else they relate to the world.
Culture is complex, so I hope that I have shared few tools that can be used to help understand culture and hopefully support a healthy cultural lifestyle . I believe that certain levels of racism are developed unintentionally from a lack of cultural experience. I do understand that there are some who believe that their race is the superior race and we are not going to change those people. But for the rest of us who are working on the opposite side of racism, cultural experiences are a great way to become more aware of people and the cultures they represent. Though we focused on basics, there are also other cultural environments or lifestyles that should be understood as well, Gender Preference, Musical genre, Physical Fitness, etc., that also influence the overall culture of someone.
In closing I view the world as a Kaleidoscope of colors and cultures. Cultures range from where your family is from, to the food you prefer to eat, the music you listen too, where you live, your gender preferences, etc. We are not from just 1 culture we are a make up of many. I associate myself as being a Black/Asian American with Haitian and Filipino roots. I follow a Hip hop culture, prefer a rainbow collection of different foods, and I’m from LA! How do you see yourself, what cultures represent you?