SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch Fall 2012 Personal Memory Ethnographies
As a person from a different country living in The United States, I know for experience that it's not easy to fit into a new culture to understand people's behavior. It seems simple to move from one country to another, especially since they are next to each other: The United States, a rich country, the place that a lot of people want to live to make true the American dream; Mexico, a nation with a low living standard, undeveloped industrial base, and low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. A lot of people emigrate from Mexico to start a new life in The United States.
It was not until I came to live in The U.S. that I understood prejudice was a notable behavior in our American society. One day I got in an argument with a woman of a different race; this argument ended in racist remarks. Why? I don't even know, I had never criticized someone because of their race. It wasn't in my mind. After years in The United States I learned it, I experienced it and at the present time prejudice exists in my mind. I try to not make a big deal about it, but it is still there.
The reason I ended living in United States wasn't really the pursuit a better economic life. After spending two months of English course during the summer in Tucson, AZ, I felt in love with an American guy who would be the father of my two daughters a couple of years later.
Silverio Vasquez, a US marine corporal, after four years serving to the US military and being a veteran of The Desert Storm War showed me the way of life in United States. Eventually, I understood the hard way how different is life in this new country.
I learned that in this society, people are always in a hurry. There's not much time to visit relatives, friends or neighbors. Everyone is busy trying to make money and pretending to have a better life than others. People from different races, cultures and thinking set up their own communities and surroundings.
One morning, about seven years ago, I was at the school where I once worked, before doing my regular duties just as every other day. I remember that day was really busy during the first two hours. It was almost 9:00 am and I started to feel hungry. I decided to step out of work and drive to the closest McDonalds for a bite. I got in the drive-through alley to find a long line and the service at the window was very slow. At that moment my mood wasn't decent. I was hungry, the line was long, and my escape from work would start to be noticed in the office. Finally, it was my turn to order my food. I got a small breakfast, a coffee, and proceeded to pay. I felt glad to be done with the long wait.
Suddenly, a lady knocked upon the glass of my passenger window; it was a lady walking to Mc Donalds with her three kids looking for a person to help her to feed her children. Probably, the night before, she got in a fight with the father of her kids. She looked annoyed. I guess she was so hungry as well as her kids; I lowered the glass of my window and asked her, "How can I help you?" She answered that they were hungry and asked for money to buy food in McDonalds. I looked in my purse and noticed I didn't have any cash with me. I told her, "I am sorry, but I don't have cash with me." She got furious and started yelling at me. She noticed I was Mexican, yes, it was for sure; she could detect my heavy accent when I spoke English.
"It's not fair!" She shouted with anger in her face. "After these Mexican people come illegal into my country; they still refuse to help U.S. citizens. Yea right! I bet she is driving the nice truck because she is doing dirty business. These Mexicans are taking our land. How come The U.S. government spends money on these wetbacks? It's the Mexicans' fault our government is cutting food stamps and cash assistance for the U. S. people in need. Mexican women just come to U.S to have babies and get the assistance of our government."
I was taken by surprise. In less than two minutes she expressed a series of bad thoughts: "Fucking Mexican! You go back to your country and don't come back to my country, you don't belong here. Mexican wetback! We don't want you here!"
After a couple of seconds, I started to feel my blood running up to my head, I felt so mad at what she said. Immediately, I replied to her, "Look white lady, this is your country and it's not my country as you said, but unfortunately for you I can see I live way better than you, and it looks like I produce economically more for your country than you do. Poor you, I feel sorry for you. Now, get out of my way."
At this point, the matter of helping someone with money was no longer the picture. Now, the matter was the race, the status, and the power of each of us. I left McDonalds and I went back to my work shaken by this experience. By the time I got into my office, an overwhelming feeling of sadness made me lose my appetite. Remembering, this event makes me think more about the anger and hurtful feelings of people. What gave this lady the right to have talked to me in this despised way? I'm not proud of the way we both behaved. What gave me the right to have answered in this humiliating way? We both behaved evilly. It doesn't matter what ethnicity we are, or what economic status we have in our society, we should always respect each other.
In contrast to my feelings, the white lady perhaps thought: "I need to get some money to feed my kids. I will keep asking people to help me out." I imagine that after a while, perhaps a white male gave her some bucks; she surely enjoyed breakfast with her children, and then they went back to their home.
In a society where the solution to the problem is war, violence, and control, how can we expect equality, respect and understanding to exist? We should realize that being human is more important than the race we belong to.
Therefore, I will educate myself and I will make sure my descendants follow my legacy. No more discrimination, prejudices and segregation. The time for building a better society is here. Let's get the best of each culture and start a new nation.
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