Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is the southern U.S. in need of a cultural revolution?

"You're not in the schoolyard playing cowboys and Indians anymore!" That is what I should have said to him. But instead, I said nothing when he expressed his ignorance. I remained quiet when he mocked things that were different from himself. I laughed nervously when he jokingly belittled my principles. I opted for silence when I should have spoken up. I made jokes about his customs in defense, when I should have said "Enough!"
I currently live in western Florida. I have been here for about a year and a half, and it seems that there is a lot of ignorance here. This is not to say that the area is completely devoid of intelligent or open-minded people, but it does appear that discrimination, ethnic and sexist jokes, and fear of what does not conform to the local norms is much more acceptable here than it is in the part of the country where I am from, i.e. New York City. In New York, things are always changing; there are new people from different cultures and ways of life entering the city everyday. I have heard New York City called "a melting pot" many times, but I did not truly understand what it meant until I left the city. In New York, all of the differences and cultures and traditions sort of blend together until there is no norm. The norm is difference and variety. I had always taken this for granted until I left New York, and began to see that life in other parts of the United States is indeed very different. I had thought prejudice and sexism were things of the past, but now, sadly, I see that they are very real.
It is a wonder to me that legal segregation was abolished less than fifty years ago, and less than ninety years ago, women were not allowed to vote. Despite the fact that legally, we are all "equal," it seems that racism, prejudice, and sexism have still not been obliterated. And historically, the southern U.S. has lagged behind with regard to acceptance and tolerance of diversity and equality.
So what do you think? In what part of the world/U.S. do you live, and how do you feel with regard to the level of cultural diversity and equal treatment for men and women? Do you feel your city/region is behind the times, or is it progressive?

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