3004 廚房

3004 廚房
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2010年9月28日 星期二

Living with the majority and minority in two cultures: when diversity is an issue?

The place, Hong Kong, where I grow up is pretty diverse.People often refer Hong Kong as the place where "East meets West". There are a lot of Chinese, British, Americans and Filipinos...etc. As diverse as it might seem, I never was educated in a diverse classroom in Hong Kong. I attended an all girls Catholic school (the majority of the students had a middle class background) since I was 6 or 7 years old till the age of 19 when I finally went to college. College, however, wasn't very diverse. Most of us were Hong Kong Chinese and occasionally we had some Mainland Chinese students (from China), as well as international students from America, Europe and Taiwan. Perhaps 5 out of 40 are non-Hong Kong native students in a classroom. Therefore, growing up in Hong Kong does not grant me too much knowledge in living and learning with a diverse population, who may share differences in ethnic background, race, culture and so forth. I did not have any chance to encounter a diversity dilemma or perhaps I wasn't even aware of any because I am the majority. I am the person who share the unspoken privileges within the dominant culture.

Studying in the United States is different. Everywhere is about diversity. People talk about diversity all the time although in my perspective, people aren't practicing "diversity." Here, I become the minority. I have experienced both discrimination and privileges as a minority student. I had language barriers, was being isolated in social situations and not being able to participate in certain situations. However, I have also enjoyed some privileges as an international student.  There are conferences, trips, associations and discounts for international students.

Living in the United States allows me to understand the importance of diversity and how it is embedded in every culture. It is when I become the minority that I am aware of how much privileges I have when I am the majority. For example, some Hong Kong people always hold prejudice against those Mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong. Mainland Chinese students were always being laughed at their accents in speaking Cantonese.  People also tended to make jokes about these immigrants or international students from Mainland China. Being a native Hong Kong Chinese, I never experience such discrimination. I was often given opportunity and privileges, no matter in a learning context or working context. With my middle class family background, I can go abroad to learn about different cultures,while a lot of the others just do not have the resources to do so. Because of my native Hong Kong identity and SES, I am more fortunate than a lot of the others.

Lately, I read an article which made me roll my eyes. You may view the article via this link:
http://gawker.com/5623138/middle-school-segregates-class-elections-by-race
I will not mention the details here as you can read from the above link and you can probably spot a lot of issues. However, what makes me angry is diversity is not about BLACK and WHITE. Diversity means more than Black and White. Diversity includes Socio-economic status, race & ethnic groups, gender, religion differences and so forth. I felt just disappointed at how the school tried to be "fair" in this case. It was just sad to see white students are the presidents, while there is only one black student as the vice president. When I was reading this article, my second thought was "how about the Asian or non black and white students?"

8 則留言:

  1. Dezirae N. Brown
    I appreciate your comment about the article referring to Black and White students. My neighborhood is all about the concept of black and white as well as my family that lives throughout the South. Ever since I was young, I've acknowledged the multitude of races. I'll never forget the one time in my childhood when my mother and I were talking about marriage. I told her that I neither wanted to marry a man of purely Caucasian descent nor African descent and she replied, "Well what else is there?" Such ignorance has driven me to be aware and open-minded of all races, ethnicities and cultures.

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  2. Dezirae, thanks for sharing your personal experience here. Your story actually reminds me a lot of people out there who try to marry someone from a different race/country/ethnic origins. It saddens me when their families oppose such marriages and relationships. What can be some of the reasons behind such opposition?

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  3. I question why, in a modern, fairly educated nation, why we still describe people on the basic of "color." Really what does it mean? If I am from Latin America, and I have "white skin," do I answer my census form as "White" or "Latino?" If I am albino, am I "white," because I look white, or am I the same race as my family, who may or ma not be "white?" There are a rainbow of colors naturally found throughout the world. You can't say, because I have blond hair, I am from Europe. There are people in the Middle East that are born with blond hair, too. The color of your skin doesn't make you a bad or good person, doesn't determine how you feel about someone or something, it predetermine who you are or what you can achieve. The simple fact is that we are all people, with desires, hopes, dreams, etc. Our skin doesn't change that fact. To me, race is a dismissible factor, something that should not be part of applications of any sort, even in class representative applications that have little consequence.
    I know that there are people that judge others for the most cruel reasons: reasons they can not change. There are few things in life that you cannot change, and there are plenty of things that can be change. We should all jude others on the bases of their actions, not what they look like, how their voice sounds, how tall or short they are, etc. I know that people feel more conformable around people they like or feel that they have something in common with, but, for the most part, everyone has something in common with that random person on they see on the street. It is a conflictual idea, that we are all different but yet we can all relate to each other, but I believe very strongly that it is true. I think if we all approached life as if it wasn't just serendipity that we met someone that we like, that the people around us all had a meaning and an affect on our life, I think the world would be a much better, more accepting, more diverse place.
    -Jacque

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  4. I really appreciated this entry about being the majority vs. minority. Usually (at least, it seems, at JMU) I fall in the majority. I am "white", female, and an American. The only time I have been out of the country is to England for a week, yet that was not nearly enough time to truly be exposed to England's culture. And even though, for my whole life, I have lived here in America, which is known to have such a wide diversity of people (which I agree with, to an extent), I really feel as if I've been quite sheltered. I haven't had the experiences that many others have had with going abroad or even vacationing somewhere outside of mainland USA. But that is also what drove me to come to the International Learning Community. I want to learn more about different cultures and stop feeling so sheltered.
    ^-^
    ~Lisa

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  5. Lisa, I encourage you take a study abroad opportunity to Korea or Japan or whatever place that you are interested. My former professor in NYU once said that you will understand more of your culture when you are exposed to another one. By being exposed, I mean living in the culture.

    Jacque, thanks for your wonderful sharing. I particularly enjoy your last statement "I think if we all approached life as if it wasn't just serendipity that we met someone that we like, that the people around us all had a meaning and an affect on our life, I think the world would be a much better, more accepting, more diverse place." Remember, we give meanings to every encounter we have in life.

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  6. Putting labels on people because of there race and ethnicity is not necessary. Growing up overseas really opened my eyes to all of the different people around the world. I have friends from Asia who were born in the US and never left the country, does this mean that they are Asian, or American? It depends on what your definition of diversity is. I feel as though there is a lot of diversity at JMU because everyone here has so many different interests, but if you refer to race, then no. People are people and should no longer have a label on them or be looked at a certain way because of their features. The International Learning Community is a very diverse place. This is why I wanted to be a part of the community. Also, my old high school was extremely diverse and it would be an easier transition, which, thankfully, it is. There is a lot more to the world than what people think, they just have to be open minded and look up and take it all in.
    -Andrew

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  7. I agree with Andrew about labels. I remember in elementary school, people would talk about the German in their family, the Swedish, the Irish, or whatever else. They didn't know anything about these places, but they knew their family was from there. I felt so lost, not knowing where my family came from. My mom never completely cleared it up. The name "Selkin" was the only one in my third grade class that didn't pull up any historical background in regards to region.I was born Selkin. Now I have the name "Blumenthal," from my stepdad. It's only as a matter of practicality that I have this name, and sometime is makes me feel lost. The name marks me as a Jew, has a German translation, and links me with a group of people who know when their family came over through Ellis Island. When my family went to New York City we tried to look up information on my dad's family, not my mom's.
    My boyfiend's mom is from the Philipines, and is ethnically half-Chinese, but never displays any of that side. Why, then, does it matter? I know my boyfriend's 'pedigree,' I think, out of an obsession with knowing those things, things that I never knew about myself. Someone told me once that I didn't have a very Jewish face. Jokingly, I said that this was because I was half redneck. The guy seemed completely shocked. "how did that happen?"
    I don't understand race or racial past from a personal perspective. That is all I can offer on the subject.
    ~

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  8. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you got to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Have your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

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