I have listened to people tell me that black history month divides us. This makes no sense to me because black history month is not for black people. Black history is everyone’s history in this country. If you haven’t read this blog on BHM by Funkyman please do! Here is the link http://www.dcfunkyman.com/2012/02/are-we-there-yet.html He makes an excellent point which I totally agree with. That is, I don’t think there should be a black history month, but unfortunately we need it. Think about why. Now, moving on to another issue. I have listened to people tell me that “minorities” need to stop identifying with our cultural heritages because it divides us. I’m first generation American, meaning I was born here to Jamaican parents. Jamaican culture mixed with American culture pretty much explains my upbringing. Just like Americans take pride in being American I take pride in being Jamaican-American or Afro-Caribbean American. The pride falls in all three: Jamaican, American, West African ect (the list goes on). Some say the titles are what separate us. I can agree that yes, people who are born in America despite where their parents are from are indeed American. Nonetheless I hardly leave out the “Jamaican”-American. Or if I do I might say I’m American, and my parents are Jamaican, because it is a part of who I am.
I get so annoyed at people who expect different cultures within the US to forget about or not celebrate other cultures claiming that this “divides us.” Really I think these people are intimidated by cultural differences. I don’t feel this at all. I have friends from many different cultures, and I have never felt threatened by them celebrating the culture they choose to celebrate whether it be American, Haitian, Japanese, Irish ect. St. Patrick’s Day just passed. We all know how much of a BIG DEAL that day is here. Every American with Irish heritage and Americans with none at all get into St. Patrick’s Day, some don’t even know the history behind it. I have never once felt intimidated on this day. Although I don’t really partake in the celebrations, I think its awesome to see so much green pride! It’s an exciting day! I think its important to celebrate history. I love seeing everyone in green with four leave clovers on their face or the shirts that say “Kiss me I’m Irish.” Heck I woke up St Patty’s Day wanting to kiss the first Irish man I saw! How comes no one has said that Irish pride divides us?
Sometimes I feel like Americans whose families have been here for generations and generations and have lost touch with any roots in other countries feel a bit left out when those more attached to roots in other countries are representing their heritage. Don’t get me wrong there is NOTHING wrong with claiming America alone! This country has a rich history of its own and has come a long way! So feel secure in that! You can be proud to be an American, as you should be! That being said, the show on TLC “All American Muslim” was just cancelled due to pressure from ignorant organizations in Florida deeming this show “controversial.” So on one end people are saying “Hey no matter what culture we are we are all AMERICAN So forget about titles, titles are what divide us,” yet on the other end an American show about AMERICAN’s is “controversial?”
There is nothing wrong with appreciating differences. That should not divide us! If we were all exactly the same what a boring world we would live in! You don’t want me to represent Jamaica, but you love my jerk chicken and vacationing in Ocho Rios? You want Chinese to be “Americanized”, you tell the Mexicans “speak English this is America,” but you spend hundreds of dollars on Chinese food and you love tortillas? I thinks people are confused about what pride is. I feel like it is being confused with the “pride” the KKK members have in being white. That this pride is derived from some sense of superiority. I certainly do not think that me being of Jamaican or African decent makes me superior to anyone else. I am proud of my Jamaican heritage because I am proud of Jamaica as a country and as a people. I am proud of it because I love Jamaican culture, because this little island has achieved so much despite its handicapped beginning. There is no superiority aspect in the pride people have in their cultural backgrounds.
I LOVE learning about other cultures other than American culture (which I am very familiar with because I grew up in America), and I love indulging in American and Jamaican culture as well! I love eating Irish soda bread! I love dancing salsa and meringue! I love seeing my Indian friends in their gorgeous sari! I love all American football! Never have I felt intimidated or separated because of cultural differences! I appreciate them! If I didn’t have an Irish teacher in graduate school I may not have ever tried Irish soda bread, umm delicious!! Anyone out there who makes it from scratch holler at your girl!! I love seeing Muslim women with their heads covered. Things like that remind me of how beautifully diverse America is! American culture is a huge mixture of many cultures. I think that is such a beautiful thing! So in a sense forgetting my Jamaican culture/heritage just because I was born here, would kinda be like forgetting American history and American culture! What else could bring us closer than mixing up all our cultures together in one place?
Differences don’t divide us. Our own mentality and perceptions about what these differences mean divide us! No one is better than anyone else. Saying that we should drop all other cultures and all just be “American” is like saying we should all wear the color blue everyday. No reds or violets or greens. Everyone should just wear blue. How boring. Or everyone should be Catholic! America is a mix of cultures. It was built by a mix of cultures and races and ethnicities. What people seem to forget is just because I practice this religion and you practice that religion, I am not making a statement that we are not the same. I respect that you are a republican and I am an independent. The likeness, the sameness, the fact that we are all members of the human race is not erased by our differences. In Jamaica we have a saying “Out of many, one people.” We have white Jamaicans, Chinese Jamaicans, Indian Jamaicans, ect and we embrace all of those cultures within Jamaican culture. We are different but we are all the same, we are all Jamaican. The differences are there but they don’t divide us, they unite us as one people. I wish that could be embraced here! We are all American!