I have asked my students to define their own culture. It’s tricky, isn’t it? Culture and race are different, at least to my mind. Your race you inherit. You have nothing to say about it. Your culture you can bend. You can embrace parts and leave others behind. Your grandpa was a racist? You don’t have to be. Your grandma had eleven children? You are not required to have any.
Here are the things I embrace about my culture. I am a third generation New Mexican. That means I like green chile on everything except the stuff I prefer with red chile. I do NOT believe in rain (it’s just a myth) unless I am drenched by it. I think Texas has an overblown sense of importance, but I like Texans, sweet and simple as they are. I do not believe in following people closely on the highway. Give all the other drivers room. I think of the speed limit as a suggestion. When the weather is nice, I like to drive slowly and enjoy the ride. When the weather is nasty, I’m tempted to drive like hell in order to get home quickly. I don’t think most of the people on the coasts even know my state is a state, and I think I like it that way. The less other people know about me and mine the better (blog entries aside).
I am a McCollaum. I don’t like to be interrupted, and I don’t like to interrupt others. I will wait my turn. I am not in a good mood. I don’t know why this is, but McCollaums are rarely in a truly good mood. We’re putting up with things. I have a darkness always simmering in me. I am a bad sport. It is for this reason I do not mind being alone. I’m less likely to do something that I regret if I am left to my own devices. I value toughness over beauty, but I admire beauty in the same way that I always admire starlight. I like to read and think, and I will go out of my way to hear something funny. I am very thankful for what I have.
I am a Jones. I like music and talk and sweets. I can bake, and have since I was about three years old. I want people to feel comfortable when they come to my house. I like hosting parties. The Jones clan are volatile, but their anger fades quickly. They do NOT hold a grudge. I think each year I become more Jones and less McCollaum because I forget a little bit more of what I once resented.
I am a citizen of the United States of America. My father was a Marine as was my oldest brother. My Grandpa Jones was in the Army. My cousins have served. My cousins still serve. My brother teaches history, and he’s really good at it, and he understands more than most people about how this country was formed and the ideas that make it still worth defending. I will defend my rights and the rights of others even when I do not agree with them. I like this country. That’s what makes me nervous about our current climate.
I am a Christian. This is the most important part of me, the part I will not discuss too much because it is sacred, and because I am a McCollaum I will not handle it too roughly. I want to be kind to others, to express love to them, to reflect the LOVE that has saved me from the worst of fates and from hate.