Jul 15, 2019 in Analysis

Introduction

Culture reflects a way of life. Across the societies, norms shape the behavior of people. It is against this backdrop that origins or backgrounds of families play a big part in influencing a person’s conduct. I trace my cultural origins from Swedish and German backgrounds although I was brought up as a White American. The current paper is a self-analysis which borders on a range of issues pertaining to my cultural heritage.

Cultural Heritage

As has been already mentioned, my national background is a mixture of Swedish and German cultures. However, my origin is more closely connected to the Swedish background. Understanding the Swedish migration into the United States is critical towards appreciating my cultural background. The migration of Swedes into the U.S. is traceable to the events taking place in the 19th and 20th centuries. During the time, roughly over one million Swedes entered the U.S. The immigrants were motivated by the affordable high quality agricultural land in the region between Montana and Illinois. The availability of high-paying jobs across the industries in Worcester, Minneapolis, Chicago, and smaller towns in the country were also a major attraction. Additionally, religious freedom and recommendations from earlier settlers in the country proved influential.

 

Initially, the immigrants had to adjust and fit into the American way of life. However, with the increasing numbers of the nationality in the county, they attempted to revive their native cultural practices. Nevertheless, the dominance of the White Americans influenced their way of life, as Swedes, Germans, and individuals of the European origin largely settled in the country as White Americans. Entering the U.S., Swedes were taking low-paid jobs meaning that they came as individuals of a lesser value. This allowed the assimilation of Swedes into the mainstream White American culture. The decision to copy this way of life has led to a situation where my identity has been lost given that I assume myself as a White American.

 

Religious affiliation is also an important marker of cultural issues. I do not recall instances where my family visited worship centers. Additionally, I have no recollections about engaging in religious activities apart from during school events. In brief, I did not profess any religion when I was young since my parents did not belong to any of them. I do not remember any religious values being taught to us while growing up because my parents have never lived a spiritual life and did not go to church. The only thing I remember was my mother’s words, “If you don't obey God’s word then you don’t go to heaven." In such circumstances, it appears that secularism was the preferred way of life. The views could be understood based on the state of development of the country. Notably, developed countries provide freedom of choice on religious matters.

 

Presently, I consider myself to be of the Christian faith. In my family, my husband, children, and I are the only people who attend church. I have volunteered and taken several devotional classes over the years and I have drawn the conclusion that no matter what religious sect you belong to, as long as you are honest and treat others the way you want to be treated, you will be fine. I connect my transformation to the influences I have encountered through my schooling life. At school, I have learned that people worship gods. It took a long time before my friends prevailed upon me to join church and become a Christian. 

 

I am a female. From a Swedish perspective, females are supposed to be feminine and take care of household chores. Sexism is an issue that has shaped relations in the society. The expectation is different for men and women. Whereas men should work and provide their families with everything needed, women are expected to stay behind and take care of household chores. To be honest, I do not like indoors life, where cleaning and cooking are the main activities. I live for the outdoors and prefer to hire a house help to handle household work. 

 

According to Hook, nurturing is an important factor in shaping gender. In our culture, girls are trained to serve, avoid critical thinking, demonstrate being weak, and take care of house business. On the other hand, boys are groomed to be served, to be family providers or strategic thinkers, be strong, and desist from working as caretakers. Additionally, girls are taught to perceive violence as something natural. However, boys are implored to display their strength by fighting. Whereas boys are taught to suppress their feelings, girls are encouraged to express them unreservedly. When girls complain outrageously, they are prevailed upon to avoid such behavior because it is unnatural. However, boys are applauded for such expressions. The handling of the conflict in gender roles is quite biased because men are given an advantage while females are disadvantaged clearly.

 

Marriage is an integral element of culture. Thus, understanding of the former partly contributes to the understanding of the latter. Marriage takes the form of male-female relationships only. It is assumed that children are the gifts from God, and they come basing on His timing. My mother gave birth to my elder sister at 16. Raising a child at such an early age meant that she had to struggle her whole life. Although adoption is acceptable in my opinion, my family does not agree as they have extremely negative experience in the sphere of adoption. My great aunt once adopted a little boy who ended up being the “Hillside Strangler” in California. In my family, upbringing children was harsh because parents and guardians relied on corporal punishment. However, nowadays, it seems that parents have become liberal, as they have adopted a more lenient approach in disciplining children. Personally, I grew up figuring things out on my own, but currently the society is witnessing families pulling together by avoiding violent methods of administering discipline.

 

Age is an influential factor regarding relations in our culture. I am 31 years old. I have a mixed group of friends based on age and race differentials. I am also the youngest of the three children. In our culture, each person is expected to show respect when having relations with the older people. I respect my elders and parents given that I always demonstrate respect, kindness and uphold behavioral expectations. I love my family because I know the importance of having people who will always support me. At my age, I am able to read, review, and take a position concerning my family origin. However, the fact that my parents or close relatives have not implemented in me the sense of cultural belonging complicates matters. Regardless of the state of affairs, I understand that my family origin has affected my growth and development. 

 

I was born and raised in South East Texas and have always lived in a rural setting. I love life at the countryside and other attractive aspects of nature. I am a conservative and vote Republican by my own choice. Both of my parents are convicted felons, thus, neither of them can vote. Given that I find myself in Texas, yet my parents trace their roots to Sweden/German, my heritage has been impacted by both sets of cultures. I lead my life as the locals do although in such aspects as gender roles I prefer to stick to the Swedish tradition, which dictates that women handle feminine duties while males tackle masculine tasks. Nevertheless, my view of life tends to avoid such variations. I envision a scenario where males and females are viewed as equal individuals. Perhaps, my current location and native city has influenced my perception.

 

Music, clothing, and art play an important role in families. In a typical family setting, these items are useful in reflecting class and preferences. The accumulation of traditional art items and music collections demonstrates the likes of families. Clothes worn also exhibit the social status of families. Thus, it is not surprising that my parents kept an assortment of traditional art and music collections to remind themselves of their past. 

As has been indicated earlier, I am conservative and vote Republican by my own choice. Conservatives are often compared to the democrats or liberals. Some of the tenets of the conservative orientation include personal responsibility, free markets, limited government, traditional American values, individual liberty, and strong national defense. I believe that the governments should limit their activities by focusing on securing the lives of people while permitting the enjoyment of personal freedoms. It is only natural that individuals should be allowed to pursue their ambitions without being curtailed. I support conservatism, as it helps to encourage individual empowerment.

 

In the U.S., the left and right spectra of politics are used to capture the differences between liberals and conservatives. Whereas liberals are known as the left-wingers, conservatives are right-wingers. Conservatives support the Republican Party while the liberals are pro-democrats. Some other issues have enhanced my support for the right wing. For instance, human life has been a contentious concern not only in the U.S. but also globally. 

 

For conservatives, abortion equates to murder. Unborn human beings are viewed as living human beings who are distinct from their mothers. Consequently, they are entitled the same rights as all the citizens. This explains some of the justifications for my support for the Republican Party because I disagree with the idea of financing abortion using taxpayers’ money. I also support the enactment of legislation to prohibit abortion unless for medical reasons. I hold that individuals should be allowed equal access to schools and should be hired based on their abilities. I believe that using race, social status, or any other differentials as a basis for admission or recruitment is unacceptable. In my opinion, reverse discrimination is not a viable solution to address contentious issues such as equality. Thus, preferential treatment for certain races or social groups on the basis of affirmative action is untenable. Leaning towards conservatism draws on the Swedish traditional values which perceive the society as sacrosanct. Individuals are expected to lead a good life, which does not involve disadvantaging others basing on minor differences. As numerated above, I am a conservative because I still believe that individuals should be allowed to excel without any state or societal limitations. 

 

The socioeconomic history of my family is largely based in farming. The primary reason why the Swedes craved to enter the U.S. was the availability of agricultural fields and job opportunities. Circumstances have changed slightly making it harder to practice the economics of the past. This forced my family to consider other job opportunities such as taking casual work. Despite the changes, the socioeconomic status has not changed significantly. I partly view coming from a poor socioeconomic background as a contributing factor to the problems surrounding my parents.

Past Influences

Growing up in a multicultural environment is intriguing. For instance, when I was an adolescent I experienced many issues that left me confused. As has been already mentioned, my family settled in the U.S. and assumed White American origin. Hence, by default we belong to the ‘superior race’ in the neighbored. Other families such as those from the African-American and Spanish American origin had to endure difficult time both at educational institutions and social gatherings. My family felt that other individuals from the minority groups were of a lesser value thus did not deserve to access many of the privileges like those enjoyed by White Americans. For example, my mother advised me to stay away from African American friends because they had nothing meaningful to offer me. At that time, I could not understand this given that I communicated with my friends well irrespective of their family backgrounds.

 

However, my parents felt I was degrading the family by associating with individuals from inferior groups. Now I realize that the attitude was shaped by prejudice and stereotyping which has persisted in the country for a long time despite long-running efforts to eradicate such behaviors in the society. Previously our culture tended to feel superior to other nations. However, efforts have been made to stop such practices by encouraging integration among all people irrespective of their background. Hearing my parents gossiping about African-Americans would leave me wondering about their nature given that I did not personally find them alien to me.

 

Social rules and norms play a large role in shaping behavior. Within the White American sub group, it is a duty of the parents to pass such guidelines to the young generation. Similarly, in a Swedish background, both parents play a role although the male parents have a bigger role. In particular, fathers are in charge of the home environment and are required to establish the rules, while mothers play a supplementary role of reinforcing what the fathers have pronounced.

 

The most significant aspects that have shaped my family are largely disconnected with multiculturalism. Instead, they border on social status and obedience to the laws. I already indicated that my parents are convicted criminals. Coming from a family that has not embraced education has played a big role in the manner my family has lived. Consequently, originating from an uneducated and poor background has affected my family negatively.

 

Undoubtedly, past experiences have influenced my life. The events that have facilitated contact with diverse groups have been mostly residential, educational, religious, and social in nature. We reside in a multicultural place where families trace their origins from different groups. In the residence, the way families live demonstrate the variations, as mostly those from the White American group are found in gated compounds clustered around certain areas, while African Americans, Spanish Americans, and other ethnicities are located in special territories. At the educational level, it is also apparent that schools exhibit the variations as some of them are predominantly frequented by a given race. The same case applies to religion, as certain races prefer definite churches. For me it is evident that people prefer to group together with individuals who they share common beliefs, ideologies, and backgrounds with. I do not see it as a constituent of bad or divisive relations.

 

In the past, I made many friends. In my childhood and teenage years, I had friends from the neighborhood and at school. Within the place of residence, many of the young children mixed freely although occasionally, and fractions would be seen. Nevertheless, I had three friends out of whom two were White while the other was an African American. In essence, at this stage only one of my close friends was from a different cultural background. However, at school, many of the students were African Americans. Thus, it is not surprising that I ended up being friends with two people of color. It is coincidental that the friends who did not belong to my cultural group came from the African American group.

 

The friendship was not much different from the others involving same cultural groups. However, my White friends seemed at ease whenever talking about family and personal issues. On the contrary, the African American group of friends did not look comfortable about divulging family information. Perhaps, my Black friends were not fully convinced about the friendship or they felt intimidated because they supposedly came from an inferior background. This behavior is reflective across the cultures where individuals who feel that they are from poorer backgrounds do not feel free when interacting with others that are perceived to be coming from different origins.

 

From my residential friends, I realized that African-Americans were captives of the patriarchal society, which emphasized the dominance of the male sex in the society. For instance, I realized that their families craved for a separation of roles between females and males. Similarly, families expected uniformity to an extent that if one family deviated from the expectations, it would be labeled as alien. For example, if a family left children to mix with others from different backgrounds without control, controversies would arise. This is in line with the findings by Hook who realizes that background norms tie people to a given way of life. Hook demonstrates how boys who were asked to do household chores were mimicked besides other forms of ridicules being directed towards such families. This explains the development of prejudice and stereotypes although it was not largely pronounced among children and adolescents as it was among elderly people.

Conclusion

Culture makes up the identity and personality of every individual. Everyone has their own culture rooted in the community they came from. Thus, families may be seen as the compositions of personal identities that people display in the society. I identify as a White American, mostly Swedish mixed with some German, according to my parents. I do not know any of my ancestors. I identify as White American since my family does not identify with any other culture than this. For me it is unfortunate that I do not know truly what culture I descend from, as my family is multicultural besides being uneducated. I feel that I have lost a lot because of losing my background. I never knew about my cultural background until I went to high school where I learned about immigration into the United States, which influenced my decision to seek further clarifications from my family.

 

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