To me this is something I really had not thought about much since we talked about it in class. I really had not thought much about how being white in our society would effect my privilege. I guess never thought much about others having less privilege than me. I think I viewed everyone equally but thats not how society treats them. I always see how different minority races on the news get discriminated against or treated differently than maybe a white person would in that situation. I have been keeping an eye out for it and I see it now more often. It feels kind of weird to think that I get more privilege even when others don’t. It kind of makes me feel weird and sad. Its hard to explain for me how I truly feel.
What is Identity? Â How important is Identity? Â Is identity the same as a belonging? Â These are some of the questions I have been thinking about lately. Â I have been reading the Book “Braving he Wilderness” by Brene Brown. Â It goes into great depth about belonging. Â I think Identity and belonging can be one in the same.
Identity can be something as obvious as I am American, or a male. Â I suppose to that definition of identity its easy to identify a few things about myself, but is that really my identity. Â I think the obvious identifiers on the outside of people are masking what may truly identify them.
I believe we are all searching to find our place in this world, we all want to belong and feel important. Â When I was in jr high school I remember feeling a lack of identity and a sense of belonging to something. Â I had moved from a different school where I felt the complete opposite. Â It was a new feeling for me and something I hated. Â I remember eating my lunch at the far end of the school. Â Id come home and cry to my partents because I had no friends and nobody wanted to take the time to get to know me.
I noticed that there were clicks or factions that formed and what seemed like all the “cool” kids were a part of. Â I noticed the most popular kids were all on the football team. Â It seemed like they all had friends and hung out together. Â I thought to myself if I could only be friends with them then I could find my place. Â So I did what any kid would do…I joined the football team the following season. Â It turned out to be an experience that shaped somewhat of my childhood and life today.
I hated the football team. Â I dreaded the practices and the games. Â I hated playing the sport. Â The worst part about it was my parents wouldn’t let me quit. Â I had to stick it out the whole season. Â I saw the real side of these kids and the lessons the coaches taught. Â I quickly realized I didn’t want to be a part of that culture. Â I realized a lot of my team mates were someone I didn’t want to be friends with. Â I will say that I did make some friends, and some I am still friends with today. Â But It didn’t give me that sense of belonging or identity I was hoping for. Â I wanted that Hollywood football player story that gets the cheerleader and is popular. Â That never happened.
The point I want to make is we all need to find our own identity deep down inside. Â Somehow find a way to belong to ourselves. Â We need to love ourselves. Â Our identity’s change based on the paths we choose and the directions we move through life. Â I think many of us just believe if we can get “this” I will be this or that. Â If I can just have this job I will be successful, or if I can get 1,000 likes on my instagram posts I will be something. Â From my life experiences true identity comes with the ability to realize we are allowed to be ourselves and become something we are happy with. Â It’s not about the world and how they see us. Â True happiness comes within and accepting our self and owning where we belong and how we identify.
I have not started my service learning project yet. Â I am still waiting to hear back from some of the places. Â I will email them this week. I am really excited to start working with the refugees. Â I think it will be a great experience.
I really enjoyed the video Babakieuria, Â It was such an interesting take on perspective. Â At first I was really confused about what was going on they I realize what point they were getting across. Â Its really interesting to see how backwards culture portrayed Â in the video made me think about what was happening. Â I think seeing white people as the minority is different, since I’m white and for most place I have lived am the majority. Â I never really thought about how being a minority might be compared to the majority.
On Tuesday we listened to our first group presentation. Â I really enjoyed the groups lesson and what they talked about. The African American culture and language is very different than the standard white American’s. Â As I was listening to the presentation I couldn’t help to think about my past place I have lived and the different language they speak. Â I had the opportunity to live in the ghetto amongst the African American culture. Â I lived there for 5 months deep in the projects. Â It was a huge learning experience for me. Â I was serving a mission for the LDS church at the time and we had many responsibilities and goals to achieve with the people. Â We wanted to help bring light into others lives. Â I was really surprised by how the majority of people were very religious and strong church goers.
We talked a lot about coding in class. Â I had to change the way I talked to get my points across and the respect I deserved. Â I found the way I talked normally was not accepted or respected as much as others. Â So overtime I learned to talk to people in that culture. Â It made a huge difference to the way perceived me. Â I felt more respected and heard. Â I never remember making a conscious effort to do this but I did. Â Its amazing how our brains work. Â Listening to the lesson and understanding coding just put a definition to something I had already learned but didn’t know.
Language is so important in every aspect to live. Â We need to be able to talk the right language to get our message across and also to hear others. Â Having many tools in our language and communication will help us be better human beings.
I would like to discus with you my cultural self assessment. I would like to talk about who I am. Culture plays a huge role in who we are and in some ways who we become and what we accomplish. My culture identity has shaped me to who I am today.
I identify my race as white. My ancestors come from Europe and as far as I know I have no other race in my blood line. It’s hard to say going way back in time. My dad was adopted and we do not know much about his background. We do know his mother was from Sweden. So that makes me either half Swedish or a quarter. I identify my gender as male. As for my socioeconomic class I would have to say I am lower to working class. I do have a seasonal job that pays well but its only a summer job. The rest of the year I attend school. I am lucky that my wife has a good job. She has gotten her bachelors degree and is an accountant. With her income included with mine we are more in the middle class, but thats only because of her.
Religion is a very important cultural identification for me. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This religions falls under the category of Christian. This has been one of the biggest cultural influences in my life. Religion and God are things I think about everyday, and very often through my day. I feel religion is often a cultural identity I think about the most. I don’t really think every day about my race or socioeconomic class. So I guess religion stands out to me as one of my biggest cultural identities.
I speak English and have never fully learned another language. I took Spanish in high school for a year and cannot remember much. My wife is from Germany and we lived there for 3 years. During that time I tried to learn the language but it was very hard for me. I can understand much more than I can speak. For now I just identify with English.
I have moved around a lot in my lifetime, and because of that I feel very culturally educated and diverse. My dad was in the military for most of my childhood and we moved a few times in the span of 6 years. We lived in California and New Mexico. Most of the places we lived were in smaller suburbs outside of larger cities. We never lived on the military bases, but got to see them often. Military bases have their own culture. Through my teenage years we lived in Utah which was much different than the previous few states we lived in. In my 20’s I lived in California, Nebraska, Alaska, North Carolina, and Germany. Each state and country had a culture of its own.
The first time I can remember encountering different culture was in the second grade while living in New Mexico. My two best friends were Korean. I don’t remember much other than their parents didn’t speak the best English and their house smelt bad. Even today I still can remember the smell. Today I would say it just smelt like food, but back then it was a foreign smell I was not used too. I remember some black kids that rode the bus home with me. We would walk home together. They always would pee on the ant hills, they taught me how. I thought thats what black people did.
Everywhere I went I encounter culturally different people. Germany was probably the most diverse. I had never spent so much time with people form the middle east. This was a little intimidating to me at first. The American views on middle eastern culture is not very nice. I got to know many people from Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Learning about their culture was very eyeopening and helped me better understand the difference in culture.
For this next section I would like to discuss some cultural differences from my own. I would like to talk about the race and socioeconomic class different than mine. I am going to talk about the African American Lower class.
Early 2008 I had the opportunity to serve a mission for my church. I was asked to serve in the state of Nebraska. During my two years there I was able to experience many different cultures. The culture that stood out to me the most was the African Americans. For about four months we stayed in some renovated projects in the heart of the ghetto, well thats what most people called it. For the African American community it was home. I was one of the only white people I saw walking around on the streets. I was completely submersed in the culture. Not only was it an African American demographic, but it was lower class. We would frequently see homes broken down and trash in the yards. It was a very poor part of town. Not many of the people had jobs. Many lived off of food stamps and the government.
There were many that did have jobs but were not paid well. A few things that I always thought was kinda cool was the African Americans almost always had couches on their porch and big screen tvs in the living room. This was just something I noticed. They were very kind people. Maybe it was because we were missionaries but they were always nice to us and respected that we were preaching about God. We often were asked to say prayers complete strangers walking down the street. They were more willing to invite us into their homes as well. Those things did not happen much in the white communities. They were very religious, and very open about it. I felt the majority of African Americans I met were very close to God and love to talk about how he as blessed them.
The family values were very strong. I cannot tell you how many times turf wars and gang fights would happen because someone messed with the others family. They are very protective with family and will die for family. Hard to find a more loyal culture. Violence was often more prevalent than in my own culture. Often times I would wake up to police sirens in the middle of the night. One night we came home to find a pool of blood on the lobby floor of our apartments. There was police crime tape blocking us from going to our room. We frequently saw drug deals. I remember teaching a family and the dad excused himself and walked over to a car that just pulled in the drive way. The man in the car handed him a bag full of white stuff and the dad exchanged it for some cash. These were somethings I had never seen in the neighborhoods I had grown up in.
Ebonics was definitely a thing. We had to learn a new language living in that community. It came in handy. We were more respected once we knew how to communicate better. Intelligence was an interesting one. I think on an education level I felt more educated than them. Most of them had street smarts. So I guess in their own way they were intelligent. Just a different intelligence than myself. I think the lack of education showed in their work ethic. I felt many of them were lazy and didn’t want to work. This was something I was not used to. My family always made me work for money. I think a lack of education reflected their overall income for those that had jobs.
I remember trying to help poor families. I remember feeling so sorry for the lack they had. Some families I would meet didn’t know if they would eat that day. Some would have to steal to survive. It was really sad. I remember thinking to myself how blessed I was to have what I had. At the same time these people knew no different. I always admired how happy and optimistic the African Americans were with the lack compared to my culture.
I defiantly grew up with parents that taught us that everyone should be treated equal. I also grew up with the religious views that we are all God’s children and he loves us all the same. I truly believe that. I think we as humans are created and should be treated as equals. If we all have different cultures that we grow up with and are associated with now. These are the things that make us unique and different. I think there are so many right ways to live your life. I also believe there are bad ways too. That comes down to choices that we make.
Although I had this wonderful opportunity to experience all these things in person and live the life, my views were not always this way. Like I mentioned before most of my teenage years were in Utah where it was mostly white and people of the same socioeconomic class. So all I had to base my views on were those from the media and tv. I had no idea of the poverty and the lifestyles of the lower class. This was the biggest shocker for me. All I knew was my socioeconomic class and the rich. I knew I wanted to be rich and be able to buy whatever I wanted. I guess thats what everyone thinks about when they are kids. But I had no idea of the poverty in our country. I think that is something that is kind of hidden and pushed under the rug. It is really sad and should be addressed and talked about more.
Race was always something I had learned about in school and at home. We should not be racist, and respect all races. All my friends were white so I never had much practice growing up. The media played a huge role in what I thought about African Americans. I remember still seeing acts of racism towards African Americans in the news. Cops wrongfully arresting blacks. This was always a common thing. I remember hearing a lot about violence and shootings. Often these were associated with blacks. I never really listened to rap music but when I did some of the lyrics really made me wonder if what they were talking about was really the way they did things in there lives. All media skewed the way I really saw things. I think if the media were to actually live the life like I did they would see things from a different perspective. I guess that goes for everything. We really truly do not know until we experience it for ourselves.
To conclude my culture identity I would like to propose a few questions. I would like to know how to look past stereotypes better and see the people and who they really are. I would like to know of ways that I can experience more culture locally. I know doing the refugees service learning is something, but I would also like to be informed of more opportunities to experience more cultures in a hands on way. The last question I would like to pose would be how I can be viewed by someone from other cultures that creates an atmosphere of trust. I would like to be to the point where they feel comfortable around me and come to if they have questions in learning about my culture.
This class has been very eye opening to me, mostly because it has made me think about all the cultures I have come across. I have been in so many and most of the time don’t really even think about what cultures I am experiencing. I really like how we have been challenged to take a step outside our own cultures and experience others and put what we have learned or experienced into our daily lives. I think if we can continue to do this we will be more open to there’s and their cultures.
I have really enjoyed this class this semester. I really like that the class is a safe space to talk about sensitive maters having to do with culture. I really like that we can tackle and talk about political correctness in an educational way that helps understand the different ways it is appropriate to communicate to each other and other cultures we may not be familiar with. I really like the diversity in our class as well. I am a white male and I really value the thoughts from my other classmates that might be of other race, gender, or another diverse background other than mine.
“Power Matters” was a fun read. Im not sure why all my classes sync up, but the past week all of my professors have been giving lectures on Power. I think this is a really interesting topic and something that can be dove into deeply. I really think power matters and is important to have. We need power in our own lives and with others to accomplish goals and tasks. Without it nothing would get done.
With that being said I do think that Power can be a negative thing as well. If people are using power to negatively influence or effect someone else, this can be where power is destructive. I think many people use power to do this. Doing that can be very hurtful and damaging to relationships.
I think power also can given to others. Sometimes in my own life I find it refreshing to not have the power. Having the power all the time can be stressful and exhausting. I think the most important thing is knowing yourself and knowing when it’s time to have the power and let someone else have the power. This will help build more meaningful relationships and be better communicators.