Changing Your World View in 2017

The newly-formed Rift Theory of Cultural Ideologies proves that this isn’t as hard as you may think.

Lincoln abolished slavery in 1864.

Johnson granted non-white citizens easier access to voting in 1965.

Obama became the first black president of the United States in 2008.

Say the word racist and you think of an uneducated piece of scum who is stuck in the past.

Say the word terrorist and you think of an Arab waiving his AK-47 around on a sand dune in some war-torn country.

Welcome to the year 2017: we pretend to have defeated racism, yet it still corrupts all our minds.

Are humans that different from each other? Are there things that unite us together enough to open our eyes? Throughout the last three months, I questioned cultural diversity.

It all started with a podcast on international students at Western Washington University. I conducted a case-study on two different students: one from Japan and one from Mexico. Though born 6,500 miles from each other, their journeys through college were similar.

I wanted to uncover the struggles of these two students as they advanced through college. I came at it from an angle that served to criticize the American education system, but they shut me down. Both of the students were moving along their paths at WWU and had a lot of support. They have access to traditional resources as well as extra help for other needs. I learned that the higher education system doesn’t silence these voices, but encourages them to become louder.

That was reassuring.

After the podcast, I broadened my research to cross-cultural studies. My main questions formed around the broad topic. Could it be possible that the differences we assume to be part of humanity do not exist? Could it be true that the society we grow in does not have as large of an effect on who we become and our preferences? I wanted to find out whether countries produce unique individuals or if humankind randomizes traits.

If it were the latter, it’s proof that we can destroy social barriers once and for all.

We will start with the evidence that unifies cultures.

Dr. Harold Baxter created a website that compiles national dishes from around the world. I found out that more countries had “chicken and rice” as their dish than fingers I had to count. By translating these dishes and their ingredients, there wasn’t anything “unique” about them. They all consisted of the same things.

Onto the evidence that separates cultures: there was a lot more of it.

I switched the topic to music and discovered a lot of interesting things. Data from the International Music Summit 2012 Consumer Report shares some national opinions on music genres. To summarize, countries have very different “favorite music genres”.

I found this applicable to the realm of color perception, as well. Psychologists Sable and Ackay published their findings of different global meanings of colors. Why does Germany see red differently than Nigeria? Why does yellow mean “distrust” in a French context? In Cross-Cultural Psychology by John Berry there is an answer based on history and rituals.

The last bit of research has to do with cultural views of love and marriage. The book Mate Selection across Cultures by Hamon and Ingoldsby has a wealth of information on this subject. They determined that every culture has a unique definition of what marriage means. Ghana, for example, sees marriage as a way to grow the community and keep a line alive by having lots of children.

From all my findings, I have developed the Rift Theory of Cultural Ideologies. Imagine each culture as their own separate mass or little island. Each country’s mass has its own special features not found on any other landmass, making it unique. Examples of this are music tastes, color perception, and views of love. This creates a rift between them, keeping them separate. Yet, there are similarities between cultures. One example was food and another is language. Human interactions have created these bridges and connect the masses together.

Humans aren’t that different! While it’s true that we all have differences that stem from the society that we grew up in, we have the ability to build and traverse connecting bridges. This is crucial to destroy stereotypes and racism. Without acknowledgement of uniqueness as well as uniformity, these ideas will never go away.

By seeing through a positive lens for once, you can reach out to others.

Make 2017 the year that racism actually ends.