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Culture and differences
I live in one of the most multinational countries in the world. The issues of cultural differences, diverse cultural groups, and their behaviors have been bothering the American society for generations. Cultural differences have always been causing multiple confrontations and offenses from all sides. As it is said in the lectures by Harvey and Allard, the issue of discrimination is not only based on the factors of race or ethnicity (2012). Even in a society that consists of people of one ethnicity, there will be misunderstandings, prejudices, and behavioral patterns that can be called discrimination, according to other factors such as gender, age, or sexual orientation.
Attempts to co-exist and prejudices
With the beginning of globalization different, unfamiliar with each other cultures started to “flow across the boundaries” and meet (Harvey & Allard, 2012). Some cultures assimilated, some clashed and some got destroyed. The world has been trying to work out ways to reduce the confrontations and avoid misunderstandings between the groups of people that originate themselves in different cultures, but this issue is very complicated and changeable. I think creating prejudices is natural to humans, as this is how humanity has survived through the centuries. A human from ancient times tried to touch fire, got burnt, learn that fire is hot, and will not try to touch it again because of the ability to accumulate knowledge. Humans create prejudices unconsciously and automatically, this is how our brain works. It is dangerous when a prejudice turns into ideology. When this happens between groups of humans, it causes offenses from the side of the discriminated society and a misunderstanding from the dominant group, as their ideology has become their way of thinking (Harvey & Allard, 2012).
Story from a store
The story when I felt aware of my ethnicity and race happened in a supermarket. I was shopping for some usual things, taking my time, feeling really lazy and slow, going through different kinds of pencils and pens, thoughtlessly staring at notepads and other office supplies. The store workers – two white guys, both around twenty years old – several times came up to me asking if they could help me choose or find something, I just shook my head, and politely thanked them. I guess I was walking around there for so long that the workers forgot about me. They obviously were friends; they started chatting, giggling about something like all young people do. The store was almost empty, so I could hear them well. Another shopper appeared.
It was an elderly man also of Indian origin, and he was lost in the huge variety of goods at the store. He came up to the young guys working there and asked something. He had a heavy Indian accent, I guess he sounded really funny, because as soon as the man received his answer and left to look for the supplies he needed, the workers started to giggle, and I think I heard them making parodies of an Indian accent. I went past them, reminding them of my presence and the laughter faded immediately. I was not angry at them or upset. I have heard many parodies of the Indian accent, I am aware of how it sounds, so it was not a shock. However, that situation made me feel uncomfortable about my own speech, I even felt self-conscious to talk again.
This was a case where vocal trigger worked as a factor of ethnic difference between Indians and white people and this trigger caused a response from the dominant group that made me feel like “other” (Harvey & Allard, 2012). I think some other person would have filed a complaint or made a scene. I just walked away letting young boys enjoy this kind of behavior while they can, as in adult life there will be plenty of restrictions.
Harvey, C. P. & Allard, M. J. (2012). Understanding and Managing Diversity: Reading, Cases, and Exercises (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.