Interwoven within the comment sections of my last several blogs, the topic of Culture has arisen. What is culture? Do we have one U.S. culture? Or, do we have an ever evolving, multi-cultural society?
Culture has been called "the way of life” for a society, including the arts, manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, games, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief.
From the very beginning, the distinction between the East vs West cultures has been difficult to define with precision. The Greeks were not so different from their Eastern neighbors. In the later 20th to early 21st century, with the advent of increasing globalism, it has become even more difficult to determine which individuals fit into which category.
Today, globalism has spread western ideas so widely that almost all modern countries or cultures are defined by aspects of Western Culture. Geographically, countries defined as "Western Culture" include Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, it can be said, Western Culture is an amalgamation of a variety of sub-cultures. Western culture tends to be more individualistic than non-Western cultures. It also sees man, God, and nature or the universe more separately than non-Western cultures. They may be marked by economic wealth, literacy, and technological advancement, although these traits are not exclusive to it.
Western culture is NOT homogeneous nor unchanging, however. It continues to evolve as components of sub-cultures become enmeshed into the overall cultural traits. Example 1: The originators of Western Culture, the Greeks and the Romans do not have the same cultural traits as Americans of the 21st Century today. Example 2: A remarkable social and cultural inversion has occurred in the last fifty years: where once Western culture was the monopoly of the upper classes, it now, more often than not, bubbles up from those on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. This transformation has been especially evident in the world of style - with the authenticity of streetstyle challenging and then toppling the dictatorship of High Fashion.
One of my new Blog Favorites is “The Czech.” I visited her blog recently. She has a very interesting post titled “Wealth and Religiosity.” As you scroll down, there is a chart from Columbia University depicting “Average Religious Attendance vs Average income", with an overlay depicting Red (Bush) vs Blue (Kerry) states. As Czech comments, “What is it about high religiosity that pairs it so often with poverty? Are those with low quality of life more likely to turn to religion as a consolation, or does a high level of religiosity in a society somehow impede its ability to maintain a strong economy and stable society?”
I think the chart also shows the differences in sub-Cultures across the USA. As I have said for so long, New York has a different culture than Atlanta, is different from Miami, is different from New Orleans, is different from Texas, is different for Las Vegas, is different from Kansas, is different from Michigan, is different from L.A. The differences include most cultural aspects, including: the arts, manners, dress, rituals, games, and to a degree, norms of behavior such as morality, systems of belief-religion, to a lesser degree language and law.
So as I study this map, the differences in the cultural aspects, the differences in income, influence and class, it is obvious to see our nation is comprised of a variety of sub-cultures, ever-evolving.
So the question becomes, why are so many so angry with the fact we have an evolving, multi (sub) cultural society that is ever evolving?
I believe the anger and the outrage originates from many of those who believe they are the Dominant Culture. Our society is a conglomeration of many subcultures. In the past, the Dominant Culture has been able, through economic and political power, to impose their preference of values, language, and behaviors on other subordinate cultures. However, the Civil Rights Movement and the end of the Jim Crow laws impacted their dominance. It has taken until now, forty years later, for the Dominant Culture to feel the impact of this CHANGE.
I came across a blog called “The Diversity Exchange” written by an HR expert. She said, “I have come to believe that (at least in the Western European empires) skin color DOES matter still, as do gender, age, social/economic class, physical abilities and more. Perhaps not as much on an individual-by-individual case as even a decade or two ago, but institutionally, it is evident when one looks at large organizations, whether commercial or non-profit. Just looking at photos and reading names of management and directors of various US organizations, the percentage of people who do not seem part of the “dominant culture” (i.e., white, male, Northern European background) is quite small. However, looking at the names, gender and skin color of most “workers,” I find great diversity. When I take public transportation, or park in public parking lots, I see and hear diversity. So what happens to these diverse people on the way to the boardroom? Presumably, organizations hire the best talent possible, provide the tools and training opportunities for personal and professional growth and then reward the top performers with additional remuneration and responsibility (i.e., promotions). Like others, I find it hard to believe that the only members of the dominant culture are top performers. It is hard for those who are part of the dominant culture to realize their societal advantages over others. White privilege, heterosexism, ableism, ageism and a whole host of other –isms exist whether we choose to recognize them or not.”
What we are facing today is some members of the current Dominant Culture of our country recognizing the Change that Globalism has brought to our country and to the World. They recognize this is a Train they cannot stop. Therefore they react with Anger, with Rage and with using every method in their power to Stop the Train. However, they are reluctant to voice their fear. Instead, they point to easy targets, to Immigrants (legal or illegal), they attack the messengers who speak the truth about Race and Diversity, they try to instill Fear and Hate and Anger, sometimes using AM Shock Jocks, the Christian Conservative Right and even empowering Hate Groups to do their dirty work for them.
The problem is, they do not want to admit the truth. They do not want to say they fear Diversity, Equal Rights, Women´s Rights, and the fact that all diverse groups, ALL men and women are created equal. They do not want to say they fear living in a world where White Northern European Males are NOT ALWAYS in Control.
2. Dominant Culture
3. Western Culture
4. World Culture Encyclopedia
5. The Chez Blog
6. The Diversity Exchange