grows up in a homogenous society, or in a society where he or she is a member of the majority, it is harder to become conscious of your own identity as well as your cultural and racial inheritances. It is in the encounters with people who carry dissimilar physical, cultural or even emotional traits than us that we most learn about ourselves. But is there no danger in learning about yourself through the perception of others?
Growing up, my parents sent me abroad to many summer programs so that I would improve my foreign languages, and learn more about the world. Though as a family we traveled frequently, I quickly discovered there is no interaction like that of peers. In the first few years, the interactions were quite innocent. Each student showed genuine excitement over meeting someone their own age from a different country, speaking a different language. Cultural exchanges were limited to learning to say "hello" in as many languages as possible, the exchange of nonnative bills and answering questions about one's country. This was in middle school.
Now that time has passed and change has continued, those simple phrases and words can't quite connect to the faces and feelings. People of differing cultures forced to exist in a world foreign to them suffer. They suffer not for the lack of food or love. They suffer because they miss the known and the speechless understanding that occurs with people familiar with the known world.
Culture plays a big part in how people are raised and how people interact. To switch cultures and adapt to a new one in a land like the U.S. is particularly difficult. It begs for a person to relinquish the past attachments and identity for one more acceptable. The problem is, some people no matter how much they relinquish, still appear different than those who have merged with the national identity.
Americans are stereotyped to be white. When people think of British people, they come to that same conclusion. The majority of the population in both countries are white. So for a Hispanic woman, like in the story: The Myth of the Latin Woman she'll still be seen as Maria and Maria is a menial character domestic. "The myth of the Hispanic menial has been sustained by the same media phenomenon that made "Mammy" from Gone with the Wind America's idea of the black woman for generations; Maria, the housemaid or counter girl, is now indelibly etched into thenational psyche. The big and the little screens have presented us with the picture of the funny Hispanic maid, mispronouncing words and cooking up a spicy storm in a shiny California kitchen."
Another conflict that occurs within cultures is the racial divide. Numerous African-Americans have had ancestors here since the 17th century. And although the descendants know English and are familiar with American traditions, they are not seen as Americans and given the acceptance that a white American would. Brent Staples, "Just Walk on by" tells the story of a Black man wholoves nightly walks. Now he, like many Americans seeks upward mobility and attends a university to earn a degree. But unlike others before him, he is viewed with caution because of his appearance. Society pegs people that look like him as muggers. Literature is filled with examples of people's impressions of the black male: "recalls growing up in terror of black males; they were "tougher than we were, more ruthless," he writes -- and as an adult on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, he continues, he cannot constrain his nervousness when he meets black…