Today I am writing to share with others my experience in my popular culture course. I was given the assignment to explore my identity in popular culture. I was immediately intimidated when I began to discover my identity in popular culture because it was challenging for me to think of the last time I felt that I identified with what I was watching or reading. I was so excited because I have always wanted to do research on my identity. The identity I chose was being a person who is multicultured or a person of mixed race. I often see biracial people, and since attending Portland State University, I have had many people ask me questions about my background. My initial questions for my identity was how do multi-cultured people identify? How do multicultured people face stigmas? What concerns do multicultured people face? And so on.
When finding popular culture artifacts around my identity, it was hard to find any on multicultured people. So, instead, I found media that portrayed diverse identities. To me, diverse has many different meanings. When I identify as diverse I mean that I am different, I have four various ethnic backgrounds, and I will never identify as just one because I feel that that is disrespectful towards my family members who came before me. So, with my search for popular culture artifacts, I searched for diversity in ads instead of multicultured.
The first ad I found was a Coca-Cola commercial that aimed to promote optimism, inclusion and humanity values that should bring us all together. This ad especially stuck out to me because it was sung to “America the Beautiful” in English, Spanish, Keres Pueblo, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese, French, and Hebrew. It showed many different ethnic groups laughing and sharing happy moments together with their friends and family. This commercial matters to me because it was made by a big company like Coca-Cola. Instead of promoting their soda with a celebrity or a famous athlete they chose to promote their soda and recognize the different people who made up or nation and send a message saying to promote optimism, inclusion and humanity values that should bring us all together. The second ad I found was for Apple Canada. The entire commercial was filled with images of people from all different backgrounds that you don’t typically see when you turn on your t.v. The individuals in the ad were interracial couples, models of color and siblings. What made the ad compelling to me was the narrator in the background who states people as “a human family” and that we are more alike than we are unalike. This is significant to me because at the end of the commercial I was able to identify with their message. It also sparked my interest on how Canada views multicultured people. My last popular culture artifact was by the Diversity and Inclusion Ad Council titled “love has no labels.” It starts with two people kissing shown as an x-ray, then they come out of the x-ray machine and surprises the audience by being a non-traditional couple. It then continues with, interracial couples, those with disabilities, families, interracial friends, and those who have diverse religions. The key message is that love has no labels, love is love. This ad is important to me because it adds that we are all humans and humanity joins us all in a community.
Looking back at my first discoveries on my identity, it validates that culture has a bigger picture to it. The light bulbs went off in my head learning that as a person who identifies as multicultured, I need to stop excluding myself from everything. I feel that I view myself as “other,” I exclude myself from finding strong connections out there because I am not a whole of anything. In the first Coca-Cola ad I learned about inclusion and humanity and then related it to how although I don’t have a single ethnic group to identify with, there is a group at Portland State University for each of my ethnicities that I can join. I feel that this will allow me to learn even more about myself and strengthen my identity. In the Apple ad, I enjoyed being reminded that we are more alike than we are unalike and that made me relate to my current friend groups. Even though we may not seem the same at first glance, or share the same backgrounds, but we are very alike, which is why we are friends. We support each other throughout hard courses, and all have a desire to get into a graduate program. This should not be overseen just because we don’t resemble each other through shared ethnicities and backgrounds. Love has no labels taught me that the connections people have are real and valid regardless of how “different” it may be. I can relate this to moving to Portland, a majority White place and seeing how people are not used to seeing a person of a mixed background.
The next journey I took in this course was looking at academic articles about my identity, to my surprise, it was very easy for me to find articles. The first journal I found was titled “Parental Perceptions of Multicultural Education in an Ethnically/Racially Diverse School District” by Mary Jo Haveman. The purpose of this study was to see how that outside of academia and education circles think about multicultural education. Haveman believes that parents have a heavy influence on children’s perspectives and ultimately their educational experience. It is hard not to notice that the curricula in our schools are not reflected the nature of the American experience for most cultures. This study was significant to me because I learned how multiculturalism is implemented in academia. It is opposed by those in office, yet still recommended. I feel that this creates a gap and adds to people having cultural biases and stigmas because students are not being educated on the history of multiculturalism and how different ethnic groups of people came to America. I also learned that parents already thought that their children were having multicultural approaches in the curriculum taught at school, so they never thought to talk about it with their children.
The second article was “Multicultural Identity: What It Is and Why It Matters,” by Angela-MinhTu D. Nguyen and Veronica Banet-Martinez. It speaks about how multiculturalism and globalization influence how people see themselves, others and how they organize the world around them. I became aware of the issue of how individuals develop a sense of community, national, cultural, ethnic and racial group members because meaningful in situations of culture clashing. I also learned that there is no standard agreed on definition made for a multicultural person, it is more of an individual self-label. The article also reveals how multiculturalism has been formally adopted as an official policy as nations such as Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. Policies include dual citizenship, government support for media outlets in minority languages, support for cultural holiday’s, celebrations, community centers and acceptance of traditional and religious codes of dress and behavior in public space. Policies influence the structures and decisions of governments to ensure political and economic resources are allocated equitably to all represented cultural groups. Policies encourage ethnic and cultural groups to maintain, develop, and share cultures with others and accept and interact with other groups. Consequently, when national policies and government groups’ acculturation attitudes do not match with acculturating individuals’ strategies, conflicts and problems in intergroup relations may arise.
The last article I read was A Transformational Journey: Exploring Our Multicultural Identities Through Self-Study, by Amber Strong Makaiau and Anne Reilley Freese. The article was the self-study of multicultural identities took place in a high-school ethnic studies course and a university multicultural education course with 117 participants. What makes this study particularly interesting is that in Hawaii, no ethnic group is the minority. The study engaged the student to have conversations about multicultural views. Each shared their beliefs, experiences and own biases about different ethnic groups. Not everyone always agreed with what was said, but they were able to challenge each other’s assumptions. This also allowed for students to reconstruct ideas about their identities and how they viewed others. The teachers learned that if they also shared their stories, the students would feel more safe and comfortable opening up about their experiences.
Reading published research articles also added to the bigger picture of culture. It validates that multicultured identities are relevant and should not be pushed aside. In the first article, I learned the struggle of implementing multicultural education in academics. I related this to my education growing up and learning about the Boston Tea Party, 9/11 and traditional white classics of America. I do feel that historical events should be taught in schools, yet I can’t understand why students are not learning all of America’s history. Immigration and the history of so many different people coming to America are so important to teach and for students to learn and identify with. The second article showed me how multicultural policies could be nationally adopted. I then related it to my experience and how those policies would affect me in my everyday life. I feel that although it wouldn’t make a dramatic difference, I would value myself more and feel as if I am being recognized and valued as a muticultured citizen. The last article taught me that if there are programs implemented to help students understand and talk about their identities, then students will be open to learning and positively respond to open conversations. This made me relate to my journey in this course, Professor Bergland made me discover something that has always been on the back of my mind, and I enjoyed learning about my identity. Without it being mixed with my education I may have never gotten this opportunity.
Another significant learning moment in this term was when I read the journal “Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, & LGBT Status from 2007 to 4014” by Dr. Stacy L. Smith et, al. It amazes me how times have not changed and has me wondering why films are made in the way they are. I feel that films are a way of escaping reality and when I watch a movie I’d like to connect with the characters on screen. Why do producers feel that there is this ideal character? It gives me a sense of false hope because if the characters on screen are ideal women, I am far from ideal. The ASC research also revealed that “half of the children under the age of five are from an underrepresented racial and ethnic group.” Knowing that information, I feel that producers should make more diverse characters because as a child when you see movies or t.v shows you often end up idolizing that character and wanting to relate to them and dress up as them.
I have learned so much about my identity through this assignment. My favorite things that I learned are how other nations implement laws with for multicultured people, learning how implementing a program that addresses those who are multicultured helped students and how those big companies like Apple and Coca-Cola are marketing their products with non-traditional identities seen on screen. From here, I would like to find out if more schools are adding multicultural education to their curriculum and if the United States has ever thought of adding policies for those who identify as multicultured.
The moral of sharing my experience of my multicultural identity from my Popular Culture course was to share how such small things, like ad’s or the various ways education, can impact those who identify as multicultured. I feel that by implementing multicultural education into our school’s curriculum, people will be able to find their identity and this will also allow everyone to understand one another versus creating stigma and bias. I also feel that as a Nation we need to stop ignoring the multicultured identity because there are so many people who identify this way.
Haveman, Mary J. “Parental Perceptions Of Multicultural Education In An Ethnically/Racially Diverse School District”. (1999). UMI Publishing.
Love Has No Labels. Diversity & Inclusion AD Council. Retrieved February 2017. Retrieved from, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnDgZuGlHs.
Makaiau, Amber S and Freese, Anne R. “A Transformational Journey: Exploring Our Multicultural Identities Through Self-Study.” (2013). Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.
Nguyen, Angela-MinhTu D., and Benet- Martínez, Verónica. “Multicultural Identity: What It Is and Why It Matters.” (n.d). U.C Riverside.
Official Coca Cola Big Game Commercial 2014 America Is Beautiful. (2014, December 18). Retrieved from https://www.youtbe.com/watch?v=ry6FSK6UEk
The Human Family – Shot on IPhone. 2016, August 04). Retrieved February 2017. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=#2x3qEgsWEk&list=PLT_sdCjs1xFEiMhkRS3eKbwxmWBBWKIOs&index=13