Ever since I wrote my first piece here, it feels like ages since I’ve written a post referencing back to the origins as to why I decided to reclaim the term ‘ABCD’ which, connotates to American Born Confused Desi, to ‘ABPD’ – American Born Proud Desi.
I have since, encouraged those in the South Indian community to stop using the term ‘ABCD.’ Being a First-Generation-Indian-Born-American, I know personally how challenging it can be to grow up in a culturally traditional household and “fit in” with the modern day American.
When it comes to culture and diversity, it is not just the mere idea of being inclusive to one another, but rather, to encourage competency amongst those growing up in a multi-cultural environment. This begins with our leaders, our communities and organizations, to take responsibility in regards to creating an aura of acceptance and comfort to each individual on this planet.
The concept of being comfortable is tricky. It comes and goes, it takes various shapes and forms. Just when you think you feel at ease with yourself, something (or someone), from around the corner will catch you by surprise and cause you to contemplate whether or not you’re actually ‘comfortable.’
By becoming comfortable with ourselves, it requires great leaders and influences. The partial reason as to why a person may be conflicted of choosing which culture to identify with is because of peer pressure.
There are individuals out there fighting for inclusiveness within culture and diversity. People… no, leaders, are speaking out and for those who going through this struggle of identity of cultures. We have a tenfold of people who are speaking up for everyone who pushes being unique away. Former President Barack Obama had spoken out for the Muslim community who recently was under fire because of the massive shootings going around as well as ISIS. “You fit in here, right here. You’re right where you belong-you’re a part of America too. You are not Muslim or American. You are Muslim AND American.”
My understanding of this was when a person as powerful as the Former President of the United States – also to be considered to be the most powerful country (now debated) – recognized cultural identity is an evolving issue, brings a warmth in our hearts.
He recognized the need to see each other as well as ourselves for who we are which is a blend of all cultures and their virtues. That is indeed the foundation of what is known as America. If we start to address and educate, speak to others about such prevailing topics, we may start to see a sense of community and togetherness rather than isolation and fear.
Yes, the former President did indeed address this specifically to Muslims, but I feel that anyone of a diverse culture may relate. Along with the irrefutable truth that America is cultivating a more diverse population, a colorful myriad of cultures have found a place in this country. Authentic international cuisines are ever-present: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, Indian and Mexican foods are ubiquitous and embraced. Immigrants commonly merge their native language with English. Trinkets from other cultures are revered, and to appropriate them is to commit a type of social crime. To be worldly is now the common standard of “cool” among millennial’s. Here, we are longing to study abroad, to see other nations, to learn, to know and to enrich our lives with other cultures.
Undoubtedly, we still need to better our ways of embracing other cultures. Cultural appropriation is still a typical social issue. Lack of diversity in our media is prominent. Xenophobia remains prevalent. I find, however, that America is inevitably becoming the world’s hub for fusing cultures together. Despite the current identity crises our country may face, being First-Generation or Second-Generation American is becoming easier now.
I know as a proud Malayalee, culture is an intangible web that ties my family and friends together. It is a web I hope to always be a part of — to always keep in my life…
So, embrace your child for who they are. Stop comparing your children to others and creating unnecessary conflicts and tensions, it creates the possibility of having a low self-esteem. Encourage them to be the best that they could possibly be (as cliche as that may sound), because it is the simple thoughts and concepts that matter. Tell them in the end, always be comfortable being YOU, because at the end of the day, it will be you and you alone… and no one can take that away even if they tried. Tell them they fit in here, right here. You’re right where you belong-you’re a part of America too. You are not X culture or American. You are YOU.”