Trying harder to be open-minded, it’s like having a mind stretching on and on and on. It’s way easier when you just have to hear the culture of the other, but what about when you have to accept it in your daily life ? Let’s go back to my personnal context.
I am mixed, and try to find a balance between three different cultures(two different, and an intern one) : african, french, and french-carribean. I am in the middle of a constant struggle that people simply sum up : “it’s the same”. No, it’s not the same. There is something offensive in the way to say “it’s not the same”. Usually, people think that underlining differences is to separate people. For example, when I say I am french, my afro friends are joking about all the things I ignore about Africa. We were talking about music, and they were testing me about singers I know, until one of them stop their atonishment and say “she’s french, guys !”.
On one hand, it was fair to underline the fact I have a french culture, and that my african origin do not mean I am african. On an other hand, it sounded like “she won’t ever understand”, as if it won’t ever be enough. Somehow, it’s true. My parents don’t understand each other on some facts because they don’t share the same culture, so I can say yes, it cannot be enough. Not that it makes it impossible but, sadly, I think it’s quite idealistic to think about an equal relationship, even with compromises. We can lead to this ideal understanding, we can belive in it, but it will miss something.
However, I barely can conceive my life without foreign friends. During a long time, I felt stuck, incomplete –
if you think about Backstreet boys’s song I forgive you, I thought the same haha – I felt I needed something else. It took time before I get what it was about. I need to feed myself of others cultures : some people can build their identity through their own country, fact that I respect because I think patriotism is fascinating in its manner to be enough by itself. They just need their country, and that’s alright. But it’s not my case, I easily felt stuck during a long period, I felt almost claustrophobic to do not experience something else. So I left, I met new people, I built my european identity, and I came back. Lately, I met imigrant people and it’s thrilling because I break my unconscious prejudices about them, and I learn a lot.
… I finally fell in love with someone who has a culture different from mine. And as thrilling was our discussions, we hurted each other through the incapacity to understand each other sometimes. It was very complexe, but I loved him. I loved him for these differences and also because he teached me to understand his mentality. I discovered, once again, that I had limits and a rest of prejudices, that I could be more understanding. I even have some regrets to have been so stubborn: just because my own personnal life was influenced by what I knew of Africa through my dad, it did not mean that African people are like him. Simple thought, easily forgotten though. Africa contents different countries and cultures. I think I just suffer/I am scared to be considered as an ethnocentric european person, who doesn’t try to go further. I run away from this stereotype, and even sometimes I feel as if my afro friends slightly and unconsciously related me to this at the beginning. Everytime, I broke once more their own prejudices.
Pedagogy is the key.