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This paper is based on articles that seek to bring out a contrast between the concepts of cultural pride and cultural baggage.
One of the articles that was written by Kincaid gives her experiences in England which portrays her cultural baggage as she finds it quite hard to fit in this society and to adopt a similar culture as the local people in this society. Another article, which was written by Pells, talks about the American Culture.
It is pointed out in this article that the American culture is no longer a dominant culture in the nations of the world. Globalization has enabled nations to develop cultural pride and this has contributed to the development of local cultures within nations.
Before considering the definitions for the concepts, “cultural pride” and “cultural baggage”; there is need to consider what culture is. This term can mean a large number of things and it is a concept that can be given various definitions.
Among the simplest and all-inclusive ways to consider the term “culture” is to think of it as, the whole lifestyle of a group of people. Focus can be put on the aspects of culture that are linked to the code of behavior, communication, social and business relations, and other elements decisive to nurturing understanding and awareness in the continuously growing global community.
Cultural pride is a concept that refers to being proud of your own culture as well as traditions. However, by one being proud of his or her culture, this doesn’t mean anything if that person is not able to express important aspects of his or her traditions.
Being proud of a certain ethnicity implies spreading cultural understanding to the community through leadership, willpower, devotion, and enthusiasms. On the other hand, cultural baggage is defined as the tendency for a person’s culture to saturate thinking, talking, and behavior without the person having awareness of this.
Cultural baggage turns out to be a factor at a time an individual from one culture comes across another individual from a different culture, and their interaction can interfere with their behaviors or assumptions, which are made in an unconscious way.
Cultural baggage is a thing that is carried by a person all the time and can turn out to be a burden to the person, preventing him or her from moving from one place to the other. Both cultural pride and cultural baggage have a great influence on the way people conduct themselves within a particular society.
However, there is greater possibility for the cultural baggage to have a negative influence on a person living in a new society by him being discriminated against due to the cultural differences that he carries with him.
On the other hand, cultural pride can influence one positively because one is proud of his or her culture and is able to express important aspects of his traditions. Through this, one is able to achieve his goals without any fear.
Cultural Pride and cultural baggage
People around the world have what is referred to judgmentally by scholars as ‘cultural baggage’; the assortment of hardwired memories, beliefs, emotions, and other behaviors and patterns which give people their fundamental identities.
Human beings are the “sum total” of the cultural baggage they have which originates from their history which is complicated as well as from their customs and traditions. It also comes from the people’s experiences that they have with those around them and also from the way they treat the broader world.
This was experienced by Kincaid as indicated in her article giving her autobiography by the title “On seeing England for the first time”. When she comes across people in England, she realizes that people here and the environment are too different from where she came from following the cultural baggage she had (Kincaid, n.d).
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One day while in England, Kincaid was in a train travelling with her friend who was an English woman. Before they came to England, this friend liked her so much but when they came to England, as she puts it, she no longer liked her. She did not like the views held by Kincaid of England.
Kincaid points out that she herself did not like England and her friend too did not like England. However, her friend did not like her for not liking England too (Kincaid, n.d). The friend had England as her own country but she was no longer living there because she felt it was not being kind to her and that was the reason why she left it.
In some other incident, Kincaid narrates about her experience when she went to a store to purchase a shirt for her husband in the company of the same friend. It was the same store where the shirts for the Prince of Wales were made and the shirts there were quite beautiful.
She picked one shirt she believed her husband would like very much. She also wanted to buy a nice tie for the husband only to find out that she was not able to choose from among the many beautiful ties. Following this, the salesman opted to assist her in choosing.
The salesman chose a particular set, as he pointed out, because the ties bore the crest of the Prince of Wales and the Prince had never before permitted his crest to serve as a decoration on any clothing article. The salesman stated this in a slavish, respectful and awed tone.
This infuriated Kincaid and she felt like hitting him but didn’t do that. She pointed out that herself and her husband did not like the prince and the husband would not wear anything that bore the prince’s crest. This statement stiffened both the salesman and her friend.
She states that “they both drew themselves in, away from me” (Rincaid, n.d,. p.372). Her friend stated to her that the prince was a symbol of her “Englishness” and Kincaid had a feeling that she had offended her (Kincaid, n.d). Looking at her friend, she realized that “she was an English person, the sort who was nobody in England but somebody when they came to live among people like me” (Kincaid, n.d, 373).
Considering this scenario, the concepts of cultural baggage and cultural pride come out. Kincaid is affected by her cultural baggage that she has moved with to England and finds it hard to agree with all that goes on in England.
On the other hand, her friend who is an English woman but lives outside England and has just come to visit pretends that she does no longer belong to England. However, she has a cultural baggage in her which makes her not to like the idea that her friend does not like England.
She does not like the idea that her friend together with her husband does not like the Prince of Wales and defends the prince that he is a symbol of her Englishness. By doing this, she is trying to portray her cultural pride.
Taking another case, for a larger part of the 20th century, the dominating culture all over the world was the American culture. At the present, this is no longer the case.
It is pointed out that “what is most striking about attitudes toward the United States in other countries is not the anti-Americanism they reflect, or the disdain for former president Bush, or the opposition to American foreign policies…..rather, people abroad are increasingly indifferent to America’s culture” (Pells, 2009, p.1).
Earlier on, the American culture used to be a giant in each and every person’s living room. It did not matter whether the people were not comfortable with the omnipresent American popular culture within their nations, they still could not ignore the power it had as well as its appeal.
Such people as artists or writers from America were regarded as superstars; serving as objects of admiration, envy as well as curiosity. At the present day, these superstars are mostly unnoticed or they are considered as ordinary mortals.
The main reason why the American culture is not valued in other nations as it used to be is the growth of globalization. In the course of the 1990s, a large number of people made an assumption that the coming up of what they referred to as the “global culture”, was only another system of “Americanization” of the world.
However, instead of strengthening the American culture, it made the culture of other countries to be stronger. It is pointed out that, “instead of defining what foreigners want, America’s cultural producers find themselves competing with their counterparts abroad in shaping people’s values and tastes…what we have in the 21st century is not a hegemonic” (Pells, 2009, p.1).
People in other nations are now taking pride in their own cultures. They are now culturally aware of their communities through leadership, determination, dedication, and passion.
Both cultural pride and cultural baggage have a great influence on the way people conduct themselves within a particular society. However, there is greater possibility for cultural baggage to have a negative influence on a person living in a new society by him being discriminated against due to the cultural differences that he carries with him.
On the other hand, cultural pride can influence one positively because one is proud of his or her culture and is able to express important aspects of his traditions.
Through this, one is able to achieve his goals without any fear. It should be realized that cultural backgrounds can serve as dividing forces and one should be careful to check on his or her cultural baggage in order to avoid being discriminated against or him discriminating against others.
Kincaid, J. (n.d). On seeing England for the first time. Powayusd.com. Web.
Pells, R. (2009). Does the world still care about the American culture? The Chronicle review, 55 (26), 1 – 3.