Everybody is different despite which culture they’re from, religion they practice or beliefs they accept as true. Finding one person of your same culture, practicing your same religion and believing all the exact, same ideas as you do is practically impossible. There are always a few factors that make you different from this person, and this idea is acceptable to most. Why then, if one found they were almost identical in thoughts and feelings as another individual, but found that this individual was of a different race, would this be considered unacceptable?
There lingers an aroma of ignorance and naive ness around a few that make it so they’re blinded to the idea that a difference in ethnic backgrounds does not make a person inferior or superior. If one were to be categorized as inferior or superior, it would have to be based on their actions: whether it be wrong doings or accomplishments. The main characters in this story are a generation of mothers and their daughters. This story is told in sections as a narrative, where each chapter is recounted by a different woman. The mothers speak of their experiences growing up under the strict conditions in China.
They told of how their marriages were predetermined and how they had to do as any male ordered. The daughters, on the other hand, being raised under American ways, told of their hardships with pressure given to them by their mothers. They spoke of American husbands, equality between both sexes, and how they’d rather believe that their futures could indeed be controlled. This novel being reviewed for recommendation in minority studies is The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, where the minority groups being presented are both the Chinese and women.
The view seen of women in the United States is that of a rising class; once always under the wing of a male, but in the present day, rising to achieve equality. The view seen of Chinese women though, still remains that they are being held in the male’s shadow. “Reading scores and math scores for minority students are falling further behind those of white students” (Heartland Institute). This is from a report taken in the United States, which could be applied to China as well. There, though, only the women are the minority, instead of all Chinese.
The Chinese men got the better educations, while the women were asked to bear children and basically be housewives. For this reason, if a test were to be distributed among Chinese men and their wives, the males would undoubtedly have noticeably higher scores than the females. The two generations presented in this work are the traditionally accustomed Chinese mothers and their American raised daughters. In China, the role models for the Chinese mothers were none other than their mothers.
They saw how their mothers lived under their fathers, obeying their every command, and followed in this method of living. The daughters, on the other hand, being raised in America, saw how women were stepping up in the social and economic scale. They were provided with more female role models attempting to be more than just some man’s housewife. When they can “see and realize that there are people just like them, who have decided to live their lives in a positive and law abiding way, they begin to believe that just maybe it is possible for them to do the same” (RARA).
This quote is from a foundation attempting to find Minority Role Models for youth, so they can look up to people no different than them rather than ndividuals from their culture involved in drugs or imprisonment. The daughters, some more successful than the others, were able to accomplish more in their careers than their mothers had, perhaps because there were more role models available to them in the United States, than there would’ve been in China.
This novel would be an excellent source when studying different ethnic backgrounds and culture diversity simply because it deals with different cultures attempting to be lived by two different generations: a group of Chinese mothers who moved to America and their daughters who were raised not knowing all the ways of their Chinese ancestors. Both generations started off with a sense of prejudice against the culture with which they were least familiar.
The mothers, having moved to the United States where they had to adjust to their new environments, while still living off of memories from their homeland, found it difficult not to attempt to implement the way they were raised into the lives of their children. The daughters, on the other hand, having always lived in the states, not only spoke English more fluently than their mothers, but also had trouble understanding some of the lessons they were trying to get across to them.
They couldn’t seem to grasp, and preferred not to believe, that their futures were predetermined as their mothers preached they were. The fact that the daughters spoke better English than their mothers is also a good reason why this source would be useful when attempting to teach about differences. The daughters felt at times that what their mothers would say in their dialect had no way of being converted into English without losing some of the significance it held before the translation. Because of this, the idea that the mothers were trying to portray was sometimes lost or misunderstood.
In the end however, one would find that all daughters, through their own experiences, finally understood what each of their mothers were trying to teach them throughout their lives. The mothers and daughters both realized their differences, but were able to find common ground. This common ground came when both mothers and daughters realized that each generation had made sacrifices and suffered in its own way (Tan). “And though these mothers and daughters are specifically Chinese, the theme is universal and speaks to every woman who ever had a mother and/or a daughter, across ethnic and racial differences” (McAlister).
If different cultures could all take a step back and look at the whole picture, instead of this narrowed, prejudice view they’re accustomed to, they would notice that all groups, whether minority or non-minority, all possess a common ground as well. If a white man could watch a black man for a day, he’d notice that they were, in fact, not that different. He would find similarities between how the black man played with his children and how he played with his own.
He would discover that the black man suffered the same pain when a loved one died as he did when his beloved deceased. Another good example could be found in the recently released movie, Hart’s War. In most war movies shown in the United States, the American’s are always depicted as the “good guys” while whomever they’re fighting against are the “bad guys,” who should be eliminated as soon as possible. In Hart’s War though, the writer did an excellent job in getting the point across that any side fighting in any war are just as human their opponents.
One scene, which was shot in a German’s office, was composed of an American Colonel, who was also a prisoner of war, and a German Colonel having a conversation as civilized men instead of bloodthirsty savages. This alone portrayed the idea that no other culture different from one’s own is as barbaric as some perceive them to be. The next part of the scene consisted of the American Colonel pointing out a picture the German Colonel had on a stand of his son, who he revealed to having been recently killed in battle.
After this exposure, there was a short, mourning silence and a word of condolence (Hart’s War). At last, a portrayal was shown that all cultures may look different, but feel, think and experience in the same manner. If this idea could get across to the youth before they have a mind of their own, they’d learn not to even notice the color of one’s skin, but to look only into their eyes, which is a doorway to what the mind thinks, the heart feels and the body experiences.