Yesterday was the commencement ceremony for the students who are graduating this semester, at the University of Nevada. A friend from Eritrea got his PhD degree and is going to Yale university for his post Doctorate studies. I am so very happy for him and proud to be his friend.
He had a wonderful afternoon gathering after the graduation, with his family and friends. There were people from all over the world at this party including many people from Eritrea and Ethiopia. Everyone was so friendly and hospitable and there was great food, conversation, music, and dancing.
I felt like I was a part of this amazing group of people the entire time. There was a beautiful Eritrean song on the stereo and many people were dancing in the living room. I was watching and trying to learn how to dance the way they do.
Then I see a few people trying to move the couch and then my friend’s uncle and the rest of his family either sit on the couch or stand behind it. They were setting up to take family pictures. My friend’s brother, over 6 feet tall, jokingly tries to sit on his uncle’s lap, everyone laughs and it’s a beautiful moment. A friend of mine standing next to me, he’s Indian, turns around and says “families are amazing, no matter what culture they are from they are still the same. The young guy tries to sit on the uncle’s lap, and they have the same kind of jokes and humor, in all cultures.”
I thought about it for a second and realized that as generalized as his statement may be it is true more often than not. It is something that proves my belief, that our race might make us different in many ways, but we are still all human, and we have families that we love even though on some occasions we may not like them too much. Just as there are good and bad times in all families, there are good and bad family members in all families, and more importantly there are good and bad people in all cultures, races, and countries.
This is something that some people don’t realize, and they generalize and think that just because they met one person who was “bad” from a culture that everyone is bad from that culture. Or even some people see a bad person on TV from a certain race and they assume that all people from that race are “bad.”
I personally do generalize and stereotype, but only about positive things, if we speak to each other you may hear me say, all…enter race, culture, or ethnicity…people are nice, or beautiful, or good dancers and so on. So if you want to make generalizations make them positive because you are bound to be right most of the time, but if you make a negative generalizations, not only are you wrong, almost all the time, you are also allowing people to associate negative things with you and even with your race or culture.