Balanced Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Self Image’ Category

Get out your measuring sticks!

In Cultural Expectations, Education, Immigrant Families, Immigrant Students, Parenting, Questions, Self Image, Traditions on November 29, 2009 at 11:59 pm

image Maybe I’m getting old, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in my life – if that even makes sense.

So, here I am about to move for  the 4th time since becoming an adult and I’m trying to figure out if I consider myself to be successful. I know that this judgment is relative to a person’s culture and experiences and only I can really know the answer, but I can’t help but to think of what my family (and friends) may have expected from me. I wrote a while ago about cultural expectations for career choices and I think that’s where this all starts.

My mom always pushed us to go far in school. Very early on she made it clear that she expected my sister and I to at least finish college. Check, so +1

Then, I made the choice to get married and start a family soon after graduating college. –1

But, then I went back to school and obtained my masters’. +1

However, I am still trying to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. –1

Even without my very expensive education 😉 , I would know that this complex equation adds up to 0. Let me also add that I know that my friends and family are extremely proud of me – it’s the successful part that make me wonder…

One thing I know for sure is that I am happy and I wouldn’t have things any other way. I just don’t want my type A personality to look back one day and wonder if I really made use of all my talents… 😥

How do you (or your culture) measure success?

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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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Beauty in Our Eyes

In African Americans, Culture, Parenting, Race Relations, Self Image on January 26, 2009 at 11:20 am

Although I am known to point out the many differences between immigrants of African descent and African-Americans, I know that there are also many similarities that link the two groups; most good and some not so good.

One of which is the prejudice between light and darker blacks that has created distorted image perceptions and class divisions among black people around the world. Recently, I was reading about Chris Rock’s new documentary Good Hair that premiered at the Sundance Festival this month. The title alone made me cringe. I immediately thought of using that phrase as a child, both in English and Haitian Creole, to describe hair on a black person that more closely resembled that of a Caucasian.

Somehow, somewhere along the way (I say that facetiously), we adopted that notion that anything resembling Caucasians was good and passed on this incorrect notion from generation to generation. I wrote a paper about this in college and was actually surprised to learn that it wasn’t restricted to black cultures; Asians and Latin Americans share this distortion of self-image, as well.

In any case, it is very difficult in this society to teach minority children about positive self-image, but I think it’s crucial in order to change what I think is culturally destructive. I had to consciously work to change my knee-jerk reactions to seeing people like Alek Wek or Susan Taylor and start seeing beauty differently.

What are your thoughts about this issue? How would you start changing the perception of beauty for the younger generations? 

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