Saturday, April 7, 2012

I'm an American Mutt - What's My Culture?

My middle son and I were talking the other day about who we are.  I know – this could go in many directions.  However, the conversation was spawned by the realization that we are blessed to participate in a very culturally rich community through taekwondo.  The demo team that we participate on alone represents over nine different cultures – Puerto Rican, Hispanic, Dominican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Greek, English, African-American, and well…  Mutt.

Getting to be around people who are immersed in their culture be it spiritually, linguistically, or even racially forces us to realize our own lack of identity. 
The news is rife with us/them stories of the white American versus the immigrant, versus the people of color, versus non-Christians.  Yet, who are we?  Who am I?

If I look at my own background, I am 12.5% American Indian - and that's divided between two tribes (long story why I know that so precisely), I’m French (my grandmother is a LeBaron), I’m UK (English, Scottish, Wales) on my grandfather’s side with a bit of Russian thrown in for good measure.  I never knew my mother’s father, so – who knows?  Hence, mutt…  Nothing to really grasp onto there and call it an identity.  My kids are even more diluted since they are only half of what I am plus whatever mix my husband is.

I have always found it sad that “Americans” today think they corner the market on this part of the continent, when, in reality, besides those full-blooded American Indians, we’re all just immigrants.  Some of us just happened to land here sooner than others.

My sons see it. They wonder who we are and what makes us special. It's an interesting question to address with teens. They see their friends speaking other languages, embracing different customs and traveling the world to see family and friends. What is their place in this global world?

I love culture.  There’s so much to learn from experiencing and understanding the wide-variety of people around us.   I think that will be next year’s homeschool mission – to experience and understand from a more global perspective.

Do you identify with a particular culture or are you a fellow mutt?  In what ways do you keep your culture strong?  If you’re in the U.S., how do you enjoy the Melting Pot that is the U.S. while keeping your cultural identity?


  1. Although I know that my mom's paternal grandparents immigrated from Ireland, I am as "mixed-up" as the next gal! My husband is half Italian and half mix. Although my mother-in-law talks about being fully Italian, she only knows a few words in Italian and boy-o, the pasta from that family is YUCKY! LOL... I know a bit about my family and how they have traveled through the States to end up where they are, but I've always taken an interest to cultures individually and not worried about whether or not I "belong". My paternal Grandfather had a best friend from his early teens that was black. We weren't raised to be big activists, but we were always raised to do what we thought was right. I think (and wish) more Americans would get over the color of our skins and understand that the melting pot we've become is something to be excited about! Boundaries being broken down with each new mixed-race birth! To embrace culture instead of race. To understand that while we may not "agree" with someone or something, that it should still be respected as sacred, if that is what is it to someone else. Of course while I'm typing this I am also thinking of the groups that are raised to hate and I do not agree with those people and do not tolerate hate or violence.
    Best of luck in your adventures to find out who you are, and who your children will become!

    1. Heidi, I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is beyond me why people look at skin color - we're all human. I love the richness that comes from belonging to a particular culture because there is such tradition and identity there. I, like you, don't love that people choose to use those differences to hate each other. Only through real education and knowledge can we begin to understand the greatness that comes from our differences AND our similarities.


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!