One of the things that may be used to describe my cultural identity is my attitude toward numerous pivotal events that happened throughout my life. I would like to start by describing the way in which the term “riches” relates to the perception of an individual’s class. When I bought my first car, it felt really amazing. Not a lot of my friends and relatives have cars, so it was an important purchase. It made me feel different. More importantly, it made me look different in the face of others as this kind of possession is not available to everyone. It is also safe to say that buying a car definitely impacted me and my outlooks in numerous ways. I have always been taken by the idea of the rivalry between the rich kids at my school and me being a middle-class boy.
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Therefore, it is not surprising that the purchase gave me only positive emotions and made me feel higher than I have ever been. Of course, the metaphor of turning from rags to riches is not applicable here, but the fact that I was able to buy a car with my own money is one of the most decisive factors for me. Not that I have been bullied by the rich kids, but seeing other peers drive by in luxury cars and wearing lavish clothes definitely influenced me in a unique way. To my mind, it would be right to call that feeling “motivation” due to the fact that even my cousin had a car. Currently, his car is better than mine, but I believe that the fact that I have bought my car for my own money and did not back down from the challenge perfectly outlines my cultural identity and how I was able to deal with the struggle.
Being an Arabic fellow definitely puts pressure on you, because you may feel like there are things that others expect from you. Sometimes it even comes down to a situation where prejudice takes over, and others may form an opinion regarding you and what you do for life simply by looking at you for a second (Valassopoulos 7). Therefore, one of the main questions that I may ask myself when discussing my cultural identity is whether I am a typical Arabic guy who is influenced and can be described by a couple of stereotypical sentences in a matter of seconds. The answer is “No, I am not,” and there are several points that I may share with you in order to support my position. First of all, I have learned throughout my life that local people tend to objectify others on the basis of their monetary assets and overall level of life. Therefore, the majority believes that the better a person lives, the better they are as individuals. Being an unpretentious guy from the middle-class, I can easily oppose this widely biased opinion by saying that people have to perceive others as personalities, not wallets in order to draw accurate conclusions. Therefore, I do not shield myself or merely remove myself from the equation. Contrarily, I am trying to illustrate that the cultural identity of an Arabic guy is definitely different from what one may typically assume.
Second, I believe that my cultural identity is majorly defined by my attitude toward other people. In this case, the question that I ask myself is whether I am hospitable and kind-hearted enough to be considered a virtuous person. Here, the answer is “yes, I am” and the answer to this question is quite accurate in terms of the majority of the Arabic people. Considering our background and what we came through during the early stages of development of both our country and nation, I think it is safe to say that hospitality and kindness are the innate character traits of many Arabic people (Valassopoulos 10).
There are always exceptions to the rule, and my country is not an exception. Regardless of the nationality, race, or any other indicator, it is only reasonable to judge by separate individuals and not by the whole nation. Even though the word “stereotype” usually bears a negative connotation, Arabic people are really hospitable and welcoming. The only barrier that usually interferes with our cultural identity is a relatively ill-mannered attitude of those who prefer to show off their possessions and refuse to help others or behave accordingly. In the face of the hardships of growing up as a middle-class representative, I do realize the importance of being polite, calm, and gracious when dealing with others. Another example of good manners and definite Arabic cultural identity is my cousin. Even though he is relatively rich, he does not show any sign of arrogance or ignorance because he understands that there are people who are not so rich and our living paths are unpredictable.
The third thing that majorly contributes to my cultural identity but is not directly related to the situation that I described in the first part of my autoethnography is the language that I speak. The thing is, the Arabic language is highly appreciated by Arabic people and disrespect toward the former is not usually tolerated. Taking this into account, one has to comprehend that the Arabic language is unique and may take many different forms. Therefore, I am limiting myself to answering the question of whether the Arabic language is a unifying linguistic form of an instrument intended to guard my cultural identity (Valassopoulos 16). In this case, the answer is “no, not at all” due to a number of critical reasons. It is a well-known fact that Arabic national and cultural identities are closely related. Nonetheless, the language cannot be considered a uniting form of identity simply because there are innumerable dialects of the Arabic language that are watchfully protected by native speakers who disregard other dialects. It is also pivotal to indicate that the Arabic language is one of the key contributors not only to cultural identity but Arabic nationalism as well (but this influence is usually blurred by the use of different dialects that were mentioned above). Unfortunately, the most devastating factor relates to illiteracy of the majority of Arabic people. It is frequently met that a person may speak but cannot write in Arabic.
Most definitely, my cultural identity is unique and inspiring, but there are certain limitations that may impact the way in which it is perceived by other people. I can rest assured that Arabic cultural identity is not dependent on stereotypes and does not reflect the immoral traits that are characteristic of a very small part of Arabic people. To my mind, the most important thing is to preserve humanistic views on life regardless of the position in society.
Valassopoulos, Anastasia. Arab Cultural Studies: History, Politics and the Popular. Routledge, 2013.