We live in a society that consists of diverse people that come from different areas and backgrounds of life and are different shapes and sizes. The textbook talks about “diversity” in relation to physical abilities, religion, gender, social class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and nationality (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). Within that, culture and cultural diversity (ethnicity and race) are seen as what creates influence over the lives of people who come from different backgrounds. It brings a sense of uniqueness to different groups of people who have their own sets of rules, beliefs, behaviors, and values that they follow and teach throughout the generations.
As someone who grew up in the Indian community, culture is seen as important. There are traditions/values/behaviors/etc. that have been passed down for generations. I was born in America, my family is more modernized so the traditions, behaviors, etc. differ a bit from what is taught in India. However, in present day, India has come a long way in changing certain things to keep up with the times as opposed to how it used to be back in the day. For example, let’s talk about the clothing. Indian people are known for their beautiful traditional and intricate clothing and the fancy jewelry that compliments it as well. There is traditional clothing that is a little simpler in detail and a majority of the residents there wear it every day. In the past when I would visit, I’d never seen anyone in anything except the traditional clothing but times have changed and nowadays individuals also wear jeans, t-shirts, and clothing that’s modest yet not the typical traditional outfit. Here in the U.S., a majority of the Indians I know wear your typical clothing, like t-shirts, jeans, etc. for their casual wear for a regular day like everyone does. It’s not like India, where it’s normal to wear the traditional clothing every day. Personally, I only wear my traditional clothing if I attend my parents church, at certain Indian weddings, or for special events within the community.
The textbook talks about how the norm behavior for when people greet each other in India is to nod (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). I do catch myself nodding at other Indian people but I’ve also seen it used as a joke by other people who witness it because they think it’s funny the way that Indian people “bob their heads all the time”. It’s unfortunately not understood by many that it’s just a form of greeting each other. Another thing that people associate with Indians is arranged marriages. For a long time, it was tradition for marriages to be arranged for an individual by their parents. As the textbook states, in places like India and Japan the purpose of marriage wasn’t viewed “as providing happiness to the two individuals involved; rather, it is viewed as developing alliances between families” (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). In current day, this tradition is still practiced in different parts of India but things have expanded and there’s a bit more freedom. My parents don’t believe in arranged marriage, and in being more modernized, that tradition isn’t passed on to me. Being from Indian background though, there are people who assume that that is how my life is going to go, which is just an assumption created based off my culture.
Furthering into assumptions that are created, there’s the unfortunate response of racism and discrimination that tends to occur. It’s a sensitive topic that people don’t like to talk about, but it does still exist to this day. Racism is defined as “bias against an individual or a group of individuals based on the individual’s or group members’ race/ethnicity” (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). There are a lot of people that don’t want to talk about this topic because it’s just easier to push it under the rug and act like it’s not a real thing that exists. I sadly have been discriminated due to my ethnicity. I’ve had people tell me (for no reason) to go back to the country I was born in, but then would be silent when they realized that I wasn’t born in India. It’s not fun to be bullied in general and it’s hurtful when it’s based off of who you are, where you and your family come from, and what makes you different from other people.
If you’ve seen The Office, there’s an episode called “Diversity Day” in which different cultures are acknowledged and the characters are seen using stereotypes of the cultures, in a comedic way. This doesn’t remove the fact that some of what they showed in the episode tends to happen in real life. In the episode, they’re all role-playing as different cultures and saying stereotypical things to each other in a game to figure out who each person is representing and one woman isn’t in the room at the time and so she doesn’t know that this game is being played. When she returns, a character says a stereotype about the woman’s actual cultural background, as a part of the game, but the woman didn’t know that and thought the character was being serious and got offended, thus opening the eyes of the character who said it to her. The concept of Diversity Day exists in real life as well, except it’s nowhere near like how it is in that show. An article connected to the United Nations talks about how bringing together cultures is good for development, peace, and stability (United Nations, 2020). On the 21st of May, it’s known as World Day for Cultural Diversity in which cultures are embraced and values and traditions are understood with knowledge of it being broadened (United Nations, 2020). My workplace has a Diversity Day where everyone comes together, brings food from their cultural background, and people get to interact with each other and learn more about each other and where they come from.
I hope that one day it’ll get to a place where people aren’t judged for where they come from and people will be kind to all the individuals that they encounter without creating assumptions or discrimination. People from all cultures should be able to come together in unity from a place of love and try to understand each other more. We should all love each other and create that harmony and peace within us as a society. No matter where a person comes from, everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way and should be accepted as such.
Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2016). Applied social psychology : Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
cultural, diversity, dialogue, development, Alliance of Civilizations, tolerance, inclusion. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/events/culturaldiversityday/