We are not living in two worlds, there is but one world.-David Katzeek.
This message in particular resonated with me because your cultural world is not something you just step into and out of when needed. However, I imagine some people attempt to, and in doing so they are not fully present in and preserving their culture. This is an important thing to consider for a multicultural education. While listening to the Elders its easy to see the oppression they endured but it’s difficult for me (although I try) to empathize with a people who have lost their lands, languages, traditions, and values. I just have no frame of reference to draw from, its almost unfathomable. I cannot imagine the difficulty in trying to live one culture at home and leaving that behind when walking into school or work. But I think living by David’s message might be even harder.
By using the on/off switch method of living you can protect yourself. You can pretend to be assimilated into the majority culture to save face and avoid the culture shaming that still persists even today. The only white culture example that I can come up with to illustrate this idea is the movie Mean Girls, in which a kind smart and caring daughter is a conceited bully at school to fit in with the culture of her peer group. She turns on and off the act until she almost loses herself.
Although this example maybe silly its an example of living in two worlds. The challenge with living in one world is that everyone else will try to change you to fit in. They will try to impose their ideals, ridicule your clothing, and require the correct language to be spoken. The only choice you seem to have is to use the on/off switch or to completely despair and forsake one culture or the other.
Thats where our job as multiculturally aware teachers comes in. We need to celebrate the different cultures we have in our classrooms. Allowing our students to be proud and joyful at bringing their culture to school with them, not leaving it at home. It’s our tone that will also set the stage for our students to revel in their beautiful differences.