A Victory from a Cultural Growth Standpoint

This post requires a little background information.

I am originally from a small, conservative, rural town where people tend to generally stick with people who are like themselves. This means that white people stick with other white people, and any other type of people stick with the same. It’s just the way things have been for a really long time and people in that community are sometimes slow to accept change and step outside their comfort zones. I’m not saying anything bad about anyone in particular, just making a generalization based on the fact that I grew up there for 17-ish years. I know this scenario to be true for a lot of people.

I am a white American girl married to a brown Indian man. He’s not white or anywhere close to it. In fact, there are plenty of people of African descent who have lighter skin than he does. My parents and my brother did not get to choose who I brought into the family. They did not ask for any other color to be added to their family tree. They did not ask to be expected to learn a little about a culture originating half a world away. But this is their reality now. And I’m very proud of them for accepting us as a couple and treating B just like a family member. B has been “redneckified” (as my brother says) on many different occasions, whether it was shooting shotguns in the yard, running across hay bales, or whatever activities were included in our visits to my parents’ house.

All this to say that my parents and brother have gone above and beyond and have proven themselves to be better people than a lot of their peers. I secretly hoped that me marrying B would help them get a little more comfortable with other cultures and a little more culturally aware. (I hope you guys aren’t offended…!) I felt the need to help them expand their horizons a little, simply because I have learned a lot by doing so myself.

My brother (J) and B have gotten along really well since before B and I got married. J recently went off to college, two states away from me, and I have only been able to talk on the phone with him twice since he left. One of those times was yesterday. We talked about how he’s adjusting, what’s going on with his classes so far, etc. At the end of our conversation, he told me that there is an Indian in his program. This was a bit unexpected for both of us since J’s program is not one you would typically expect Indians to be in. J told me this guy wore a turban and had a beard, so I explained to him that the guy could be a follower of the Sikh religion and told him why Sikhs usually have beards and turbans. He said that made sense. Then he said this:

“I may go up and talk to him next time I see him and tell him my brother-in-law is Indian, too.”

It’s difficult for me to explain all that I feel about this statement, but suffice it to say that I am proud to see this type of response from my brother. I’m happy for him to feel comfortable enough to approach someone different from himself with the intention to find some common ground and have a conversation. It makes me feel that having brought someone different into the family may be encouraging the type of growth I hoped it would. Obviously I’ll always hope for more growth and awareness as time goes by, but this little tidbit encouraged me immensely. I’m always up for helping people become comfortable with other types of people, and this is one good thing that can come out of multicultural marriage.

Accepting that there are different kinds of people and realizing it’s okay is essential to thrive in today’s world. The fact that people from over 25 different countries all over the globe are seeing a blog written by one little American girl living in South Carolina says so much about globalization. People can’t just live in their little comfortable bubbles anymore. I’m very happy that my family lives their lives these days with more cultural awareness than they did before. Getting out of your comfort zone is essential for growth, whether you step out on your own, or if you are pushed out. 🙂