Nicholas Quinn

                                                           Valuing and Respecting Different Cultures
There is a phrase I overheard a long time ago that I firmly believe can truly illuminate culture differences, “People are scared of what they don’t know and what is different.” This holds true because cultures are different from one another, and when a new culture is introduced into another it frightens both cultures. These fears lead people to judge others without ever getting to know each individual person because of fears or stereotypes that may surround that particular culture. One recent example of this is Muslims. Before 9/11 Muslims in America were seen as Middle Eastern Americans, but after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 all Muslims, even those who had been born and always lived in America, were seen as terrorists. I use this example only as an example to show how fear and stereotypes and can affect an entire culture.
I chose to interview a man who has been extremely close to me for many years. At times, I even considered him to be somewhat of a father figure. Even today, I still consider this man to be one of the best role models I can possibly think of. This father figure idol of mine is in fact African American. The book proposes the idea that, “White Americans constructed stereotypes of African Americans as inferior beings to justify keeping them in an inferior position in society.” (Baumeister and Bushman, p. 482) When asking him these questions I learned more about the struggles he went through not only from other cultures, but from his own as well. When I asked him what it meant to him to be a part of the African American culture he explained that with everything he said or did there seemed to be a label to go along with it. He told me that as a young man when he started school with his cousins, who were labeled as hoodlums and trouble makers by the White American culture, he was labeled as a “do gooder” or “goody too shoes” by his own culture for being straight A student. “High self-esteem feels good. Applied to prejudice, the idea is that by regarding members of other groups as inferior, people enhance their self-esteem by virtue of belonging to their own group.” (Baumeister and Bushman, p. 483) Keeping this idea of enhancing your self-esteem by virtue of belonging to your own culture in mind, he was not only unaccepted by the White American culture, he was also unaccepted by the peers of his own culture as well.
Although his choice to excel in school, which eventually allowed him to play college and professional basketball, was scrutinized by his own culture, there was no bigger show of unacceptance than when his attraction for white women had been discovered. There was immediate hatred from White Americans who did not believe in interracial relationships, but he also heard things from people in his own culture who called him a sellout. “Negative stereotypes generally present more of a cultural problem than positive ones, because they entail prejudging a person as having faults.” (Baumeister and Bushman, p. 486) This passage explains how White Americans felt about an African American male, in that they thought all African American males were gangsters and hoodlums. He eventually married a White American, one who didn’t judge him by his ethnicity but by his character.
When I asked him if there was one thing he would want people to know about being a member of his culture he said, “I would want people to judge every person, of every culture, by their character not by their ethnicity. There are good people in every culture, as well as bad people, but to judge someone unfairly without giving them a chance to show who they truly are is a poor character in itself.” I was raised by parents who truly believed in the saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” and it has made me into the person I am today. I have friends of many different cultures who I would gladly take a bullet for, and I would not be able to enjoy those kinds of friendships if I believed in prejudice or stereotypes.

Stories from Nicholas Quinn

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

To Editor:

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

To Editor: