Beyond Face Value

March 2021

I raised my children to accept everyone as an individual and to not try to categorise or pigeon-hole anyone. I raised my children to see beyond the physical and to connect with the person underneath. I raised my children to understand that everyone has a background story and maybe an underlying reason for why they act a certain way, but to accept them as they are anyway. No judgements. No assumptions. This is probably why, my children don’t understand why someone would hate on someone else, because of how they look, the culture that they associate with, or any other kind of grouping. My children don’t understand the racial hate crimes that have taken place in the world lately, and I wish that more people thought the way that they did.

Only this past week, my eldest asked one of her long time friends, where her parents were from. In all the years that they’d been friends, my daughter had just accepted the fact that her friend had certain features and those features, made her, her. It was irrelevant where her parents or grandparents were born, because it didn’t change who she was and it didn’t make any difference to their friendship. However, that friend was honestly surprised when my daughter asked her about where her parents were from, because she had just assumed that it was “known” based on her features. But, when you’re taught not to judge or make assumptions, you don’t try drawing those conclusions.

It made me stop and question why people do make assumptions about someone’s nationality or culture that they identify with. If you’re someone that classifies people, do you do it so that you can find your “place” or your “people” in this world? Is it how you see yourself? And why is there such a strong desire to do so? Why do you need to know where someone was born or where their parents were born? Does it really matter? Does it help you with the decision on whether or not you should be their friend? Do you assume other characteristics to the person when you find out their family heritage?

I’ll agree that finding out about someone’s family heritage can be interesting and can lead to many other talking points, but personally, when someone asks me about my family heritage – especially if they’ve just met me, it annoys me to no end. And quite frankly, the question turns me off wanting to talk to them at all. Why? Because it shows me that they have a small mind and that they have a strong need to categorise things before they can either accept or reject them. Sorry, but that’s too closed off a mind for me to bother talking with. Because at the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter.

But for the sake of clarification, because I bet you’re curious now… Yes, I was born in this country. No, neither of my parents were. But don’t even try to guess where either side are from, because every generation, for the last 3 or 4 generations, didn’t stay in the country that they were born in. As you can imagine, that leads to a very mixed bag of cultures. Which do I identify with? All and none. There aren’t any specific traditions that I follow, except for the ones from the country that I was born in. And does it really matter?

We live in a multi-cultural world. That should mean that we don’t just tolerate other cultures, but that we embrace them and don’t judge… because it does not matter. We are all people. We all can laugh, cry and bleed. We were all born and we’ll all die. We are human and isn’t that enough? Why should all the other stuff matter? Everyone should be okay with just being who they are, regardless of everything else. And that should be enough.

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