Cultural Lessons – Biases

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And now it’s time for Cultural Lessons with Nae, the part of the blog where Nae points out a cultural lesson…
Here (and I’m sure in other parts of the world) they say you’re not a “REAL” American if you are not white, have blond hair or blue eyes. One of the volunteers is staying with a host family that has had many volunteers live with her over a span of 10 years and is presumably not at all racist but said to her current volunteer, “SO… you’re a real American.” Might I add that this volunteer is typical height for a woman, has long blond hair, and blue eyes. The volunteer so appropriately and awesomely responded, “well if I was a real American, I would actually be a Native American” and then took the time to explain the story of America, immigration and the true meaning of a melting pot.
 It is important to acknowledge these learning moments and take every opportunity to help other cultures realize, we’re all different. I was confronted with this issue recently. I get looked at strangely when I say I am from America. They think I am just a “gringo” or a Nicaraguan from the coast. To them, I am not a “real American.” At first, I admit I was a bit miffed, but then I realized I have my own biases that were incorrectly taught. For instance, I cannot help seeing a pale, white person, with black or very dark hair when I think of a European, although I know for a fact black people live there. The same can be said for people who are completely unaware that most of South Africa is “white” people or the proper term “Africaans.” 
Even though we try to be culturally unbiased, the truth is we process and believe most of what we see and hear, regardless if it’s true. We just don’t know, what we don’t know until we’re confronted with an ulterior truth. I challenge you today to challenge what you believe about a people. I don’t drink Coke, my hair isn’t blond and I would look ridiculous with any eye color aside from the brown God gave me, and I’m as American as anybody else who lives there. 
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