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Hunter Gatherers or American Culture: Take Your Pick
I live in a little town on the west coast, about an hour’s away from San Francisco, called Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is almost like the opposite of the rest of America—or at least, the opposite of what’s considered America.
For one, I go to a school that gets Rosh Hashanah off, but not Good Friday. There are rules in my school about putting up holiday decorations that link in any way to Jesus Christ. One of my friends is Jewish; the rest are Atheist. Hard core atheist. Now, I love my friends. I really do. I also love my school. But good gosh, sometimes they make me so angry.
Everyone at my school makes a huge deal about religion. If something about religion is asked as a 0.25 point question on a homework assignment worth 20 points, they will make a big fat huge deal about it; it defies the constitution, everyone shouldn’t be expected to know the story of Adam and Eve. Seriously.
I’m not saying it’s right. I’m really not. But there is nothing wrong with religion! People tend to make a big deal about anything related to religion just because it’s caused problems in the past. But I ask them, what’s the difference between the knowledge of Italy’s location on the globe or the definition of original sin? Both facts will help you in your life. I mean, 80% of America is Christian. Eighty freaking percent. I think that’s common enough to be considered part of our culture. But oh no, if it has anything to do with religion, it should be eliminated from every aspect of life but what people do on Sunday mornings.
Religion isn’t all of it, though. Three fourths of my school also believes that America is the stupidest country on Earth. My history teacher complains to me about materialism in the modern world and suggests that we should all return to Hunter-Gatherer ways (she didn’t mention that they walked around naked). My health teacher preaches that nature is spiritual, and we should all consider our bodies to be gardens. Excuse my language, but bull shit. Bull Shit.
My friends (and acquaintances) even suggest that America has no culture. They shrug off my comments about baseball and the fourth of July and McDonalds with the idea that many cultures came to form America.
I’m sorry, but I can’t help but think: If you hate America is so mcuh, get the hell out! Don’t complain to me in a class my parents are paying for me to attend about the faults of the country you live in. The truth is, America isn’t perfect. But it’s the lesser of many evils, and after all, nothing and no one is perfect. So deal with it... or get out.
There’s also a lot of complaining about discrimination. For example, we’re reading the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie in English class. By the way, it’s a great book; read it if you ever get the chance. Anyway, this book is about an American Indian (sorry, is that the PC term for them these days? It’s really hard to keep up) boy who goes to a white school to get a good education. When describing his grandmother, he mentions that she made little “spiritual” trinkets (quotation marks added by the author, not me) and sells them on eBay.
When we discuss this chapter in class, my English teacher starts lecturing us about how bad Americans are because they buy this stuff. He tells us how racist we are for thinking this stuff is legit. Half the class nods their heads and raises their hands to agree. But, feeling brave and angry (I happen to have a dream catcher, thank you very much), I raise my hand and dare to disagree. I explain that just because Americans buy the stuff doesn’t mean they don’t respect Native American/American Indian culture. A girl in my English class said these exact words to my comment: “But that’s because white people have no culture!”
Now let’s think about this for a second. Not only is this girl using “white” as a synonym for “American,” she is also being completely racist. Ever been to Europe? You know, France, England, Whales? Where, you know, people have light skin? Just sayin’, I mean, just sayin’.
Anyway. Another boy says that white people should pay for what they did to the Indians. I don’t mention that Christopher Columbus was Spanish, and that the whole massacre nightmare happened before the US was established. But I do say that I, personally, as a person with light skin, am not racist or in debt just because my mother’s father’s father’s father’s father’s mother’s father’s father’s father killed an American Indian.
I think it’s horrible what happened—and is still happening—to minorities. I think it is so sad and so unfair that some people are born into environments where there hope is not fostered and where their futures are not bright—for example, reservations. But the truth is, it happens to people with light skin, too. And suggesting the white people are just more well off than people with dark skin is racist in and of itself.
So don’t take my statement as racist, or intolerant of other religions or atheists, or insert complaint here. I’m just saying that what’s done is done, and America is as it is today: object-based, discriminatory of people who are different, and predominantly Christian. It’s not right, nor fair. But people should do something about it—or stop complaining to someone who loves her country more than anything in the world.