One of the things I like most with respect to learning about the interworkings of other countries and cultures is when I am able to identify with some of their practices. Learnng about Latin America in partcular has been a very enjoyable subject topic for two reasons. Firstly, because I’ve had first hand experience with people that come from various parts of the region (majority coming from Brazil) so its nice to be exposed to them in another way, majority coming from Brazil. Secondly, because their cultural practices are very interesting and eye catching. After reading the Moran & Abramson (2014) text, it is clear that the Latin American social customs, cultural themes and cultural patterns have some form of symmetry to that of the African American (and American) background I was raised in. However, I would like to note that my described African American encounters do not represent the entire race as a unit, it is just the ones I’ve been around to witness.
Based off the information provided in the Latin American chapter of Moran & Abramson (2014) I would say that the first three customs that identify with what I am consistently exposed to are: greetings, questioning, and privacy. Greetings described by Moran & Abramson (2014) are limited to shaking hands, while from first hand experience I know that most people of Latin America tend to be more personal with their hello’s. For example, my co-worker is from Brazil and upon moving to the U.S. the way he would greet people would be a arm to arm interlock (hug) for gentlemen and that with a kiss on the cheek for ladies. Information provided by Kircher (2015) second my Brazilian observation, and adds that there is no flirting or sexual meaning behind it,that is simply how they interact. In my culture, we are famous for hugging. No matter how long you’ve known the person, if they are being introduced through a mutual acquaintance you will be greeted with a hug and dependent upon the person maybe even a kiss as well.
According to the text, questioning is something that is frowned upon by the Latin American people. From my experience the same can be said with reference to African Americans. With the use of the word “prying”, Moran & Abramson (2014, pg 358) hit the nail on the head with that description. Most people I was raised around got offended if you asked them multiple questions about their lives and typically respond to whatever the question was at hand with “why are you asking all these question?” Privacy is another social custom Latin Americans and African Americans identify with because we do not like intrusions. If a person were to do a “do-drop-in” at my house, my mother would not be keen of it at all. Similar to what is stated in the book, we also are firm believers in knock and wait to be invited in before entering a room.
My final two social customs that relates between Latin and African Americans coincide with one another, they are party traditions and time. For some unspoken reason, at parties women and men are typically congregating on separate side of the room until it is officially time to start dancing with one another. The way in which this relates to time is people of both Latin and African American typically arrive after the noted start time of events. Reasons for being late can range from having car troubles to the infamous reason “nobody goes to parties on time.” In addition to this, Moran & Abramson (2014) state that Latin Americans tend to be late for appointments. I can attest to this based off observing that same Brazilian co-worker discussed above. He found it very hard/couldn’t understand why being on exactly time was critical in the U.S.; I found this particularly interesting and watched his timeliness get better with time.
With respect to cultural themes there are two topics in particular I would like to hit on; the presence of machismo and femaleness. In both the Latin and African American communities, there are both unspoken and spoken gender roles that individuals fall into that need to be followed. For males, both cultures allow machismo (maleness) to be have “aggression, zest for action, daringness, and the will to conquer. There is extreme reservation and questioning of a man’s manhood if they don’t meet the criteria. In fact, just to show how aligned the two cultures are, Latino based fraternity Lambda Upsilon Lambda and African American based sorority Delta Sigma Theta created a program on machismo titled “Machismo an issue for All Cultures.” In the same breath, femaleness is concept introduced by Moran & Abramson (2014) that says women are expected to traditionally supposed to be taken care of by men but in today’s world they are much more independent. I agree with that because a large amount of women in today’s culture (no matter where they’re from) are taking control of their lives by taking care of themselves and living how they please.
Both the machismo and femaleness definitions encompass expected gender roles, it is a
beautiful sight to see that the stereotypical ideas of which sex is supposed to do what are now changing in Latin culture and I hope that it can transcend across all cultural lines.
Kircher. (n.d.). 5 Things Latin Americans Do that Totally Confuse Tourists. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
Machismo :: An Issue for All Cultures. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2015.
Moran, R.T., Abramson, N.R. and Moran, S.V. (2014) Managing Cultural Differences. Routledge, New York.
Penn State University. (2015). Lesson 08: South America: Focus on Brazil. Retrieved Oct 18, 2015, from Leadership in a Global Context: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa15/olead410/001/content/08_lesson/03_page.html