Balanced Melting Pot

Misplaced Guilt

In Cultural Expectations, Culture, Immigrant Families, Questions, Race Relations, Self Image on June 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

A few weeks ago, there seemed to be an unusual burst of stories about Haitians in the news. As with most news stories, most of it was very bad stuff.

As I sifted through story after story or heard another “breaking news” interruption, this feeling of guilt kept brewing. I started to wonder if it was just me or did every Haitian feel some sort guilt when another gets caught in criminal activity. Moreover, does the Mexican, Cuban or Columbian feel the same way?

I have trying to figure out whether I am bothered that this bit of news will cast a negative light on an immigrant group that is often misunderstood, or if I have an unrealistic expectation that Haitians should never commit crimes in the US because, after all – we are guests here.

Whichever reason it is, I am now much more conscious of these feelings and want to ensure that I do not pass them on to my children. Rationally, I know that we are not even responsible for family members’ actions, much less an entire nation. However, in these instances my emotions tend to get the best of me and I  find myself cringing when I hear that the accused is from the same country as me and family.

Do you ever have feelings of guilt when immigrants from your country of origin are in trouble with the law? If not guilt, do you experience any other emotion? Do you think immigrants should hold themselves to higher standard or should it be expected the anyone can be a criminal; regardless of status?

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