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Cultural Baggage and Pride

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Submitted By huyu465650631
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Living in a highly diversified society, you may often hear someone introduces his or her cultural backgrounds with pride. If you show your interest to their topic, they will be even more proud of it. They emphasize this in order to show how unique they are. We call this "cultural pride". At the same time, some people are holding their hatred towards traditions. They insist those customs are out and should be replaced by something superior. They do not want this "cultural baggage" affect their lives too much. However, cultural pride sometimes makes us arrogant while cultural baggage may not be that bad as somebody thinks. From my point of view, our cultural backgrounds somehow provide us with a special identity, which makes everyone look so different. Nevertheless, it can also act as a force to divide people into small groups.

How could we tell the difference between people? Shall we distinguish people by their skin color or race? I do not think so. In my opinion, our cultural backgrounds are the most significant reason why we are different from others. We always start a self-introduction with which country we come from. It is the most efficient way to make a unique first impression. Others will try to know you through their understanding of your culture. For instance, I believe those great people and their works, like those Pells listed in his article: Louis Armstrong, Hemingway, Steven Spielberg and so on, should also be included in Americans' cultural background (Richard Pells, 2009). We can say that these people can somehow represent for American culture because of their contribution. Their works, ideas and inventions are considered as the most precious legacies to all of humanity. We can easily find out that how proud Pells was when he mentioned those names. Besides the United States, there are also many people who did a great contribution to the humanity in other countries. We should feel honored to be born in countries with so many geniuses. In other words, we should be proud of our cultural backgrounds. However, while our cultural backgrounds provide us the unique identity, we are also being divided into small groups. From my observation, I find that people usually prefer to stay with those who have same cultural backgrounds. For instance, we can find that during classes, students usually sit with people who come from the same country. Although teachers are trying their best to arrange study groups consist of different people in order to help us know what people from other countries act like, you may still find that students with the same cultural background work more efficiently than those don't. In fact, people feel more comfortable when they are communicating with their compatriots. I think it is a proof that our cultural backgrounds are actually acting as a dividing force especially among us. As international students, we should not have spent too much time with our compatriots because we are here to see what other cultures look like. Otherwise, we should not be here.

Another obvious shortcoming is that cultural pride sometimes drives people to be arrogant. It explains why racial discrimination happens all around the world now. WASP is the best example for their arrogance (Barbara Ehrenreich, 1992). Those who believe themselves are superior than others become less open to others' opinions. They think they are always right. As being told since we were born, all men are created equal. We should not let that unreasonable arrogance cover our minds. What's more? There is not such a race can be called "race of genius". At least now, not everyone can be a genius in a certain race, which means those racists are actually not as superior as they believe. They call others "inferior race", but they may even have worse abilities than those they scorn. I believe a race with too many racists is a potential threat to humanity. History has proven it once. Nobody will forget what Germans did when they are under the Adolf Hitler's command. Millions of Jews were killed in WW II by Germans because of their race, but we cannot ignore the fact that many famous people including Albert Einstein and Steven Allan Spielberg all have Jew blood in them. When racists get carried away with their cultural pride, someone treat their cultural backgrounds as burdens. They do not want to follow these rules and always come out with the doubt that why those thousands-year-old traditions are better than the latest technologies when the whole world is keeping progressing. People like Kincaid have suffered too much from traditions and customs. In their eyes, those unreasonable traditions are nothing but baggage to them (Jamaica Kincaid, 1991). However, this so called baggage also has positive effects sometimes. Taking arranged marriage as an example, most people believe couples in arranged marriage are victims because they are forced to be together (Sharyn Roach Anleu, 1992). But in nowadays, arranged marriage seems to be a good choice for those who prefer to fall in love at first sight. There are many shows in China that provide the chance for strangers to see if they can be a couple in a short time and they are quite popular. They arrange dating and let their guests to choose the one he or she likes most to be their partner. Of course, they have the right to refuse those they do not like. It's merely another format of arranged marriage, in which people have more freedom and choices. Organizers act as the role that parents used to play in the past. In a society that under extreme stress, we have to say it is good way to help people find the half of their life.

In conclusion, our cultural backgrounds bring us pride and baggage. But we cannot easily define which should be considered as baggage and which should be treated as pride. Sometimes the cultural background that we are proud of drives us to be complacent. In contrast, those traditions and customs we treat as burden may help us in an unexpected way. In my opinion, the unique identity that our cultural backgrounds provide is a precious. However, we are also being further away from others due to it.

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