The Balance of Culture
By Jovan Jande
Michigan, USA, Sep. 19, 2015
One of the biggest struggles of second and further generation American born Indians is the balance of understanding and representing their own culture while also participating and blending with the common American culture. Now a days there is no way for children to be fully immersed in only one of the two, simply because of the school systems, forms of entertainment, and even food. The question then is how do these Indian American children balance the two cultures and know when to utilize and represent the two?
The balancing of the cultures happens in two stages;
The first stage is to understands the culture and what culture is beyond a surface level. The children need to be able to comprehend what it is that their culture represents, the history that it has, what it stems from, and what it looks like now around the world. Once the child has understood this and taken the initiative to learn about their culture, the second stage becomes simple. The child needs to find pride in their culture. For most kids finding this pride isn’t easy at first because they don’t know what they can be proud of; however, once this beyond surface level knowledge is gained the child can find one aspect of the culture that they feel proud of. This sense of pride allows the child to want to share and represent their culture. Now that this want to represent their culture is instilled, the balance of the cultures becomes the next step.
Balancing the cultures becomes a sense of understanding where they are, or what the situation asks for. Certain situations, often at home or family’s houses the child needs to represent their Indian culture whereas at school there is a greater need to reflect more of the American culture to blend with the community. This comes with practice as the child learns where they are and what the people of the area represent. If the people are representing Indian culture then that is what is needed as opposed to a place with the American culture where more American aspects would be reflected. Keep in mind, the Indian culture should always be there to an extent, however, certain situations require less of it to be shown for purposes of blending in and meshing with society.
Finding a balance between cultures is a struggle that every American born Indian goes through and struggles with. However, the process becomes easier when an appreciation and want to represent the culture becomes attained through learning and when an understanding of when to reflect what culture is gained. While many parents want their children to represent Indian culture all the time, this is an unrealistic goal to an extent. An aspect of the culture will always be shown, whether through skin color, attire, food, language, and simply discussion of their culture; however, for one to be 100% Indian 100% of the time is unattainable simply because of society.