Finding America: University Diversity

Finding America (Series I: Idaho)

I work in a restaurant, and in this industry I encounter all manner of people. Here in Boise it’s a mix of university students, locals, and those traveling through town on business. Today, I just so happened to encounter a pair of gentlemen from Kuwait. One fellow had a set of beads, called subha, which are prayer beads. I asked him about them, and he said “some call them religion”.

I didn’t talk to them long, just long enough to learn they were attending university here. This encounter, along with the blizzard across the Oscars, and the general question of immigration, I am thinking about the sheer variety of people in this country.

It seems to me that this country’s media- our literature, our movies, our programming, depict America as a country of white people, governed by aging white men, all of Anglo-European descent, and that this is the story we tell.

We know, of course, that these descriptions like Caucasian, Asian, or Black reduces a number of origins to a single physical trait. Caucasians can be Anglo, Scandinavian, African, Hispanic, Siberian; Asians can be Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Korean, Thai; Blacks can be African, Jamaican, Haitian, Australian, European.

Instead our genetic history is reduced to a pigmentation and facial construct, when the reality is that our appearance is only part of the story. It is a complex thing, and I wish it was as simple as reminding ourselves that America has become a country of variety.

That we share a political system, but we do not share one culture, we not share one religion, we do not share one ethnicity, we do not share one history- We are a mosaic that gains beauty from variety.







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