Post 8

Two of my closest friends are in an interracial relationship. It has been interesting to watch their marriages and the different experiences they have because of the different cultures in their relationships. Because we are close, I have been able to witness and talk about some of these experiences.
I’ll just focus on one of my friends. She is from Argentina and her husband is white and from Colorado. Not only are their cultures different from being from different countries and having different races, but they have a major difference in their upbringing with socioeconomic standings as well. My friend’s husband’s family is extremely wealthy. He is used to having everything paid for him. Right now he is in school and has schooling, his car and other expenses all paid for by his parents. My friend on the other hand, grew up in the lower class, not having her parents pay for anything like school or her expenses. She bought her car and paid for her schooling and paid for anything else that she wanted. She has never been one to accept financial favors, and is very frustrated when his family offers to pay for their expenses as a married couple. While this is something that bothers her, her husband is not bothered by it because he grew up with wealth and wants to take advantage of his parents offering.
Thinking back on their experiences while dating and their experiences that I have seen while they are married and pondering on what we have learned in our class has made me relate privilege and ethnocentrism with their experiences. My friend has always felt intimidated by his family because of how wealthy they are. She has also felt pride in herself for working hard to pay for education and other things in her life and pride for being from Argentina. Both my friend and her husband feel proud of each other for all of their accomplishments and culture differences, but realize that their upbringing was totally different and contributes to how they view the world. I bring this up because there have been moments between her and her family as well as him and his family where their pride in their culture has caused some tension between the two.
While this post was about interracial relationships, I have seen in theirs that cultural differences were not only based on where they are from or what their race is, but also their privileges, too. Because of socioeconomic privileges, there experiences in life have been different from each other, along with the cultures that they grew up in.
From the article that my group presented on, I learned about how international students related the analogy of the boiling frog to how they do not realize the impact another culture has on them till they are taken out of the host country. It is interesting to think about how the behaviors and habits of people that we are generally surrounded by are something that we adopt whether we realize it or not. This isn’t something that happens immediately but rather over time. I can relate this analogy to my friend and her husband. Neither of them really understood how much their different upbringings impacted their lives until now.

Post 7

For me, privilege was something that I knew existed and knew that I had, but I didn’t know any specifics. I didn’t know to what extent or where to pinpoint my privilege. I knew that being white gave me privileges, but that was about it. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I realize that I still have a long way to go to learn more about this topic, however, I am appreciative to be more aware about privilege than I was before. The last few weeks that we have discussed and learned more about privilege has been really beneficial for me. I want to learn and become more of an advocate for those who don’t have the same privileges as I do.
On Monday, our class played a game where we were in different groups (socioeconomic) and traded chips that had different value. Depending on how much we earned we were able to move up or stay in the same group. This game was so applicable to real life. I noticed that we would all trade in the groups that we were in. It was pretty selective. I think that we can relate this to life- a lot of the time, we stay in the groups that we are placed in. Whether it be that we are selective with the ideas that we hold and only place ourselves in groups that validate those ideas, or with something tangible like money, generally, we keep to our groups. This is problematic because not only is it limiting to ideologies, it further perpetuates the problem of it’s not “what you know but who you know.” It was interesting to see that once you made a certain amount in points, you would either stay in the group you were in or move up. It was just a matter of getting out of the bottom group. I think that this is where our society has problems, is getting people out of that bottom group. The rich were able to change rules for their own benefit, which obviously doesn’t help other groups. I think that it is important to note that generally speaking, people work hard for their money, no matter the class that you are in. With that being said, socioeconomic privilege defines the amount of hard work a person has in front of them.

Post 5

I have always internalized privilege as “things.” Not necessarily if someone had a nicer car than I did, but if someone had a quality education, was wealthy, and really got whatever they wanted. Before our lesson and discussions on privilege, I hadn’t put the emotional repercussions in the category of privilege, as well. For instance, having the privilege to be part of the middle class has brought me comfort in not having to worry about where my next meal is going to come from. Whereas someone who is below poverty line can experience the stress and worry about finding food. Privilege affects me in so many ways. While my life is not perfect, I am closer to seeing how even in these imperfect parts, privilege is still present. Looking down at all the paper clips I had, brought to light how much privilege affects me. Just the other day I had an experience that I think is related to privilege. I have never had a ticket, or any traffic violation. Needless to say, I catch myself having a lead foot some of the time. I was driving down a hill (more like coasting) and was going about 12 mph over the speed limit. At the bottom of the hill was a police officer obviously watching for people who were speeding. This police officer and I made eye contact, he had his radar gun out, so from what I can tell, we were both aware of how fast I was going, but he didn’t pull me over. I could not tell you how relieved I felt to keep my record of never having a ticket alive and well. I have had so many experiences like this where I am sure that I will get pulled over, but I have yet to have that happen. I have thought a lot about this instance, especially since our last class with the privilege activity. I don’t know exactly what was going through his mind, or the circumstances that played into why he didn’t pull me over. I’d like to think that I am just being lucky, but I can’t help but wonder if I was of a different race and maybe a different gender, what would have happened? I feel like if I wasn’t a white female, then the outcome would be a lot different. This is yet another paper clip that I can add to my chain.
I love to run. This morning while I was running I thought about all the mobility privileges. I made sure to pay attention to how I felt and what I saw with my mobility privileges. I have never, ever been concerned about how a sidewalk is constructed but I tried to pay attention to where the curb was made accessible to people in wheel chairs. It was really scarce. A couple of months ago, I was running and came to a stop light with another pedestrian who was in a wheel chair. We were waiting for the light to change and some random person wheeled this man across the street, got back in his car and drove away. I feel like this person was trying to be kind and helpful, however, the pedestrian in a wheelchair didn’t want to cross that side of the street, he was waiting for my same light to let us go. He quickly wheeled himself back over to my side of the street and proceeded to wait for the light. That is privilege that I overlook every day. Having the privilege to not be questioned for my physical abilities.
Before our lesson, I have always looked at some of the privileges that I have as “blessings.” I think that it is important to recognize our privileges and be aware of what they are and what they entail, but that shouldn’t be where it ends. With these privileges, some questions I have is how do we compartmentalize them? What is the best way to use our privileges to help those who do not have those same privileges? How should these privileges be viewed and thought of in efforts to make the world a better place?
I loved listening to what our speaker had to say. There was so much that stood out to me. While he was speaking about Apartheid in South Africa, I kept thinking about how little I knew about this part of our world’s history. From what I can remember, I don’t recall learning about this in school which is odd to me, especially for how recent this has taken place. As I was thinking about this, I remembered hearing someone on a radio talk show wondering why we can’t just forget about the past and move on? While I was sitting there, I put two and two together and concluded that it is so important to remember and learn about history to help prevent horrifying and cruel mistakes. From working on white people’s land, black people knew more than a white land owner. This terrified the South African government because knowledge is power, so they changed the laws to undermine black people even more. Our speaker talked about how even though laws have changed over in South Africa now, there are still mentalities and habits that people have and how it is going to take a long time for it to be truly peaceful. Realizing how powerful knowledge is, has made me want to learn more about privilege and to be more sensitive of other people.

Cultural Self Assessment

This assignment has already made me somewhat uncomfortable. Not just because I am shy, but now I get to showcase to the world wide web how boring I am! I have always felt uncomfortable talking about myself. I’d rather listen and hear from those around me. That is why I really enjoy this class. Learning about culture is something that has always had my interest and something that I place value in. It is exciting to me to think of all of the different ideas that other people have and are part of. I value experiences and assignments that bring growth, and this is one of those. I was born in Orem, Ut. I have lived here my whole life. I have traveled to different parts of the United States, but I have never left the country. Not even to Canada. Part of it is time and money, the other part is that I hate flying. I am a white female who is a member of the LDS church/faith. I grew up in the middle class juggling soccer and ballet. I have never gone without, but I also wasn’t given everything that I wanted. My dad is one of the most frugal human beings on this planet Earth. While I know that I am not as culturally educated, I realize that I could be painting this picture that I have lived in this confined cookie cutter life. That’s not entirely true. I have had some experiences with other cultures and ethnicities. My best friend is from Cordoba, Argentina, and I have other close friends from Mexico and Tonga, and in my junior year of high school, my preference date was Hindu. I know people who are beyond wealthy, and people who have come from families that make less than I do. So, I guess I’d like to think that I am not 100% bland.

Growing up in Utah where the majority is Caucasian, diversity is very limited. However, some of my closest and dearest friends are from various parts of the world. In elementary school, the majority of my friends were part of the upper middle class as well as the upper class. The working class was scarce. In my realm of existence, I had friends from other ethnicities who also were in the same economic standing as me. In terms of wealth, we had a wide range in our circle of friends, but not to the point of poverty. As I said earlier, the working class was scarce in my school, or at least what people tried to come across as. So much so, there was really only one girl who obviously lived below the poverty line. I bring this up because of an experience that I had when I was in the 4th grade. This experience contributed in shaping my lens with socioeconomic standing. While at lunch my friends and I were sitting at the table. Across from our table was another set of girls. This group of girls were considered the popular girls and were very intimidating. As we were eating and talking a girl walked between our tables. This girl was in our same grade and conspicuously poverty level. Her clothes were too small and unkempt. You could see on her lunch tray the extra food that was placed because it was known that she needed it. While she was walking down the aisle, it became apparent through sight and smell that she had wet her pants. The table of girls across from me all simultaneously stared, shamed, smirked, and placed their judgment. It was as if everything was in slow motion for me. This girl was oblivious to any of this going on and possibly acted as though she didn’t hear or see their disapproval. At this moment, my heart broke and I remember feeling my eyes fill with tears. I realized that I had placed my judgments on her before, too. I knew about her families circumstances and used that information to process what I was seeing. I realized then that she didn’t choose to be poor. She didn’t choose to experience what she was experiencing. I regret not saying anything, or being a friend to her. I wish that I could go back in time and process everything that was happening sooner to make a quicker decision. I have learned to not be afraid to step up when you see a need. Especially if the need is kindness. My teachers always taught me to treat everybody equally, and this girl was at the root of our classroom discussions about treating others equally. Looking back now, I know that we were not equal. This girl did not have the same opportunities as me. She couldn’t afford dance, soccer, let alone clothes that fit her. Her father wasn’t involved in her life. We were not at the same reading level and its not like she would go home and read  Anne of Green Gables with her mom. We were not equal. This girls situation didn’t mandate that she had to be academically behind, but I have learned that factors such as socioeconomic status definitely help. In all honesty, her apparent obliviousness could bring bliss. While socioeconomic status has effect on our world view, it doesn’t have to necessarily effect our level of happiness, which could very well have been her case. While we may not have everything we want, in her eyes she may have had a blissful childhood. I think what makes me the most sad about this memory is that in realizing that she did not choose this lot in life, that also meant that she shouldn’t have to suffer the shame, unsolicited pity, and other judgments. She should be given help where help is needed and wanted.

Of course everyone has their own personality, and with that personality comes quirks, strengths and weaknesses. From what I have experienced and been taught through religion, culture, and personal observations, men are different than women. When my parents were newly married, my mom was the bread-winner for the family so my dad could go to school. One day she came home to their 2 bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment, sat on their couch that was supported with cinderblocks as legs, and sobbed to my dad about how rude her boss was. After a few hours of emotional distress my dad decided to take matters into his own hands. He did what he thought was best and went straight to my mom’s boss to talk to him. This made my mom even more upset. All she wanted to do was vent, and all my dad wanted to do was fix it. To this day, my mom now begins any emotional conversation with my dad saying, “I don’t need you to fix this, I just need to vent.” Because we are all different, I realize that not every man would have handled this situation the way my dad did. However, it has contributed to my view that for the most part, men and women are different. Having two older brothers and my dad with a lot of male cousins close by, I have learned that men are not as emotional as women, or at least don’t think as emotionally as women do. I’ve seen this with family teasing another male family member about crying, or talking about how simple everything is to a man compared to a woman. I have been taught and have seen that gender does not define how intelligent someone is or how intelligent someone can become. I have grown up with men being more of the provider while women are more nurturing. In my family and religion, I feel that women are treated with the upmost respect. While women are treated this way, it should never diminish how men are treated. I think that a lot of times we see differences and automatically internalize them or conclude our differences to be faults. I have found that we need each other. Whatever a person’s view is of gender, I think that we need and compliment each other.

The way that I view these two groups has been shaped by personal life experiences, religious teachings, parental teachings, and information from teachers. The media has also played a huge role in influencing my ideas about these groups. Sometimes I feel that the media places guilt on the working class, or hopelessness. I have seen a cultural shift with gender from the media. We see that a lot more women and men are either speaking out against feminism or are speaking out identifying as a feminist. I think that the media has also shown men as unemotional, and detached.

I would like to know more about how to combat ethnocentrism. I have seen this mentality within myself and others and would like to learn about some more helpful ways to lessen this mentality or if it is fixed inside us. I would also love to learn about how norms in other cultures were started and where they came from. I think that it is interesting to see these norms have so much meaning to a group and to relate why it is so important with the origin of where it came from. Something that is important to me is learning how to better help people that are unequal. I think that the best vehicle to achieve this is communication.

 

Post 4

I remember one of the first things that we talked about as a class was how everyone has a view of the world with their own lens. This lens that we see the world with has been made or reinforced with our own culture and life experiences. I have thought about this throughout our class discussions on other cultures and topics pertaining to understanding and communicating with other cultures. I feel like this is something that has really helped me in trying to be more understanding not just with other cultures, but interactions with people that I have some commonalities with, as well.

I loved Adonica’s video. It was really inspiring to see someone not letting life circumstances or peoples limitations placed on us define what they do with their life. Throughout the video, I kept wondering if people wouldn’t place their own expectations or limitations on others, how would that effect those we place those limitations or expectations on? I also found it interesting how she talked about how she would compare herself to other students, thinking that they had it all together. I don’t know if very many people experienced all of what she experienced, but I  remember being shocked at all that she had been through. I did not expect her presentation to be about that. This reinforced in me that we do not ever really know what other people have been through. While everyone compares, I am sure that other students in her class maybe thought that she had it all together and had no idea that she was experiencing these really hard trials in her life.

English Only Laws

I have mixed feelings on this issue. My great-grandpa came to America from Sweden. He did not speak any English, only Swedish. Once he came here, he and his wife decided that they would only teach their children English. Every now and then my grandpa would hear him speak in Swedish, but he never learned. Whenever my grandpa would ask why he wouldn’t teach him Swedish, he would always tell my grandpa in his broken English, “You are in America, you must speak English.” My grandpa thinks that part of the reason why his father only wanted him to learn English was because of how he was treated when he came here. Like today, many people had strong opinions about people from other countries immigrating here and would call my great-grandpa out for being an immigrant because of his accent. So, while I think it is important that we have a set language that we speak and to adapt to where you are living to communicate effectively with others, I think that we should not place that expectation on others because of how limiting it is. I think that by not having English only laws, not only are we accommodating others, but also celebrating where they have come from.

I haven’t started my service learning yet but I have been thinking about what I would like to do and I am going to be getting in touch with some centers or groups.  

Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3: I found the part of ethnocentrism and empathy in chapter 3 very interesting. Ethnocentrism is where we place our own group or culture as the “center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated in reference to it.” Having this mindset is dangerous and debilitating to our learning from other cultures and groups. I feel that this is something that everyone experiences whether we mean to or not. It is natural to base our understanding on what is familiar, however, what is familiar to me may seem strange to you. Unfamiliarity can be a vulnerable state, which makes us uncomfortable, but how boring to always stay in what is familiar. I enjoyed reading about empathy as well. Our book defined empathy as the ability to put yourself in someone else’s proverbial shoes and experience the thoughts and emotions from that person’s perspective. Brene Brown spoke about empathy and discussed how often times we “silver line” a person’s problem. An example of this would be if a friend told us that they had a miscarriage, and we would reply, “well at least you know you can get pregnant.” I have been thinking about empathy a lot lately and while reading chapter 3, I realized that ethnocentrism makes it even harder to empathize with people, especially if they have a different culture than our own.

 

Chapter 4: As I was reading about Distinctive Concept, I thought about an experience I had with one of my closest friends. She is from Argentina and her family came to America when she was about 10 years old. I remember the first time that I went over to her house, I was greeted by both of her parents with a kiss on both of my cheeks. Having more of a shy personality, I was totally caught off guard and embarrassed. It took me awhile to get used to this when I would see them and I would sometimes try to avoid seeing them at first just because it made me feel uncomfortable since I was hardly ever greeted that way. Now, after many years of knowing them and having a friendship with this family, it is something that is part of them and makes them distinct to me. I have thought about this for years and have never realized that there is actually a concept for it.

 

I loved watching the Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story.” Something that stood out to me was how Chimamanda Adichie discussed how a story can be so powerful that it can be definitive of a person. She said, “show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” This statement has been proven many times both positively and negatively. I have seen this fulfilled in my own life, with those around me who have been treated as what they are labeled or seen as from a single story, as opposed to those who have been treated with a story of their own.