Appreciating one’s culture and respecting the ones around oneself are important parts of being an American, as the country was built upon celebrating differences. America was often considered the “melting pot” of the world until it was changed to a “salad,” composed of different cultures and heritages.
People of different ethnicities face constant discrimination for daring to be different. They must put up with uneducated people who ask ignorant questions. Culture should not be something that someone feels as though they need to hide. People should be comfortable expressing their family lineage and accept the people around them for who they are.
These discriminations bully them into believing they must act like everyone else. It is quite the contrary; they should be expressing their backgrounds and clear up any misconceptions people may have.
For example, in Muslim culture, it is normal to wear a headscarf called a hijab. Nowhere in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, does it force women to wear the hijab, but rather, encourages them to wear it as a symbol of love and devotion to God. This also holds true for Orthodox Jewish women who cover themselves as well.
It is a celebration of culture. Taking pride in being diverse is an important aspect of being American. Some cultural and/or religious beliefs surround covering oneself for protecting modesty, and those who do should not be ashamed of it.
It is an indication of who you are as a person. It individualizes people, while also bringing them together. Activist Cesar Chavez once said, “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”
People of the same religion or culture often get grouped together, which is one cause of stereotypes. Instead of feeding into these stereotypes, people should appreciate the people who worked so hard to get them in a safe country. Keeping their culture thriving honors the sacrifices of their ancestors and educates those who do not understand.
Students may be ashamed to admit their background for fear of being bullied and tormented, but the students of MTHS have found a therapeutic solution to this by starting a Multicultural Club to celebrate the diverse students at the high school.
Freshman Aastha Shah, “I joined the Multicultural Club because I wanted people to know the facts about the Indian culture and spread awareness about things like our food and celebrations. It is a club that means a lot to me and I really encourage joining because you can learn a lot from the different backgrounds of the people that join.”
The club encourages activities that make other heritages more relatable in a fun learning experience. One example of this is Bhangra Fest, where students come together for a night of dancing and partying.
Millennials, especially students, are considered the most open-minded generation about these issues the world has seen so far. Millennials are the group of people born after 1982. Research has shown the the young minds of the current generation are more accepting of other races and religious beliefs.
Freshman Shelly Singhvi says, “I believe millennials are more nondiscriminatory about cultures, races, and religions simply because of what we grow up watching. We are accepting because we watch cultures interact with each other on a daily basis, like at school or work. As we grow, we learn the history of racism and frown upon this, trying to make ourselves more tolerant of others.”
What are some ways people can express their appreciation for other cultures and their own?