05 Sep CULTURAL IMPOTENCY – Part 5 (And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You)
Today I’m introducing a new concept, one of acculturation, which basically means learning and adapting to a culture other than your own.
“We can learn and adapt to another culture, acculturate and yet still not be admitted into that culture as equal participants, assimilate. Acceptance into mainstream society is often controlled by those in the dominant culture. The more one physically resembles and behaves as those in power, the easier it is to become part of the society.” (Gary R. Weaver)
Sad, isn’t it?
It was a typical day in Washington D.C. There were 14 people in a conference room having a meeting.
The leader of the meeting was a white female with light hair and baby blue eyes. She was born and raised in America. She was monolingual, mono-cultural and mono-sexual. Okay, some of those words don’t exist, so I invented them. The only thing that was defining about this person’s gender was the irrelevant fact she was wearing a skirt. Other than that, she could’ve easily passed for a man. Apparently, many modern women tend to ”masculate” themselves in order to be taken seriously and not be sexually harassed or sexually objectified. I get it. But there are many other ways to prevent that.
The rest of the individuals were lost in a veil of non-gender and non-religious discrimination. There were a few Asians, a few Europeans, each with their own unidentified origin of birth.
The baby blue eyes were very patronizing. The men seem to all respond well to them, meaning they physically lowered themselves, nodded their heads in agreement with all the good and absurd things the blue-eyed individual uttered. I refer this person as ‘individual’, so no one accuses me of gender discrimination or other such abnormalities.
One of the Asian ladies in the meeting wanted to be seen as a woman despite being conservatively dressed. She was refreshingly feminine in manners and speech.
The rest of the group tried to pay attention to the highly educated Asian speaker, who despite graduating from a top American university, still lacked the basic ability to clearly speak the language du jour, English, thanks to a thick foreign accent. While definitely partially “acculturated”, to the American culture, she definitely wasn’t assimilated. And although she was physically attractive, it was virtually impossible to understand anything she was saying (even though she had a sophisticated vocabulary).
Some people (who really tried) understood every other word she was saying, and others didn’t catch a thing. Nobody really seemed to care anyway.
Next it was an ethnic-looking man’s turn to speak. He had an impeccable command of the English language. Now let’s try to define “ethnic” in an overly simple way: basically anyone who does not have blue eyes and blonde hair.
While the man in question speaks English effortlessly, the physical downside is the ineffable lack of profound thinking. While he speaks the words well, he doesn’t have much to say, or at least, not much of any substantial consequence. Like the previous speakers, he says he’s an American citizen and receives a round of applause and cheer.
Next comes a blonde, blue-eyed, cheerful, spunky individual with a very seductive English accent. He too is an American citizen and fully assimilated. And since he’s a native speaker of English with blue eyes, he’s ‘one of us’, despite the accent. Normalcy of speech and friendliness makes him one of us all over the world. Now that’s unique.
The following person who spoke was a woman who clearly wanted to be seen as a woman. She wore make up and dressed less conservatively in colorful clothes. Nobody listened to what she was saying. She was too aggressive, used her hands too much and rolled her eyes often.
The women in the room gave her a quick dismissive look and the men ignored her harassing attitude completely.
The next speaker was definitely ethnic, in terms of both his physical appearance and accent, was dressed immaculately, spoke very little, but said a lot! He was witty, elegant, and funny, a true gentleman, yet he still kept himself subdued under the harsh supervision of the blue-eyed leader of the pack. Maybe he was just a sissy. Or maybe he understood that he was an “American by choice” and definitely acculturated. He knew how to play the “leader’s” game, and lets her believe she was the best.
And she is, of course! Because she was born with all the privileges awarded to the dominant culture.
With love from Miami, where the dominant culture is Hispanic. And “si uno no habla espanol es dificil convivir.”