Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 48923 times)

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lady_disdain

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Besides, both US and Europe would "lose" to places like Africa and Southeast Asia.

I don't agree 100% with the methodology, but, even so, this is an interesting map: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/07/18/the-most-and-least-culturally-diverse-countries-in-the-world/

baglady

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I think the misconception among us Americans that the U.S. is more culturally diverse than other places is because we are more exposed to the diversity in our own country -- because we live here. We've visited, or at least heard of, the Chinatowns and Little Italys and other ethnic enclaves in our own cities. Also, most of us don't study geography beyond sixth or seventh grade, so if we aren't well-traveled, we tend to think of other countries in terms of the very simplistic lessons we got in grade school: Everyone in Mexico, Central America and South America is a dark-skinned person of Aztec/Mayan/Incan descent, everyone in Scandinavia or the Netherlands is blond and blue-eyed*, everyone in Italy has dark hair and olive skin. (When I taught high-school Spanish, I used to blow my students' minds by telling them that Peru had a president named Fujimori who was of Japanese heritage.)

We're also taught, often with a point-of-pride component, that our country is the "land of opportunity" and has welcomed immigrants of all nationalities over the years. Our schools don't go into that depth about other countries' immigration policies or history, so many Americans, unless they study other countries in depth in college, or visit them, simply don't pick up the knowledge that those other countries are as multicultural as we are.

And for most Americans who are ignorant on this issue, I don't think the belief that we are more diverse is necessarily a point of pride -- it's just an assumption they have, and they don't go around thinking/saying "My country is more diverse than yours, nyah nyah!"

*I'm one-quarter Swedish. How did I miss out on those tall blond genes?  ;)
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Wordgeek

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^ which seems to reinforce my theory about travelers versus non-travelers.

perpetua

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Interesting points in the two posts above. What about TV though? You don't have to have travelled to a country to be aware of its make-up and population because there are things about it on telly. Although that said I've also heard it said that US tv, news especially, is very US-centric, not covering much at all to do with other countries. Can't vouch for how true that is, obviously, since I've never seen it.

baglady, re saying you're a quarter Swedish, someone raised an interesting point about that upthread in how Americans identify with their heritage more than others seem to and I meant to touch on that earlier. I'm of Scottish and Irish descent - I'm actually only a technically a quarter English. The biggest part of my makeup - 50 percent - is Scottish, followed closely by Irish.  But I would never say 'I'm Scottish' or 'I'm Irish', because I'm not. I'm English. I was born in England, I've lived in England all my life, I speak with an English accent. Whereas an American with my ancestry might say 'I'm Irish', even though they were born in the US, have lived there all their life, speak with an American accent and have probably never even been to Ireland.

I don't think it's a 'how many generations' thing either, because my mother was entirely Scottish in her ancestry and her parents actually were from Scotland. She would still have said she was English through and through, because she was born here and lived here.

katycoo

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Interesting points in the two posts above. What about TV though? You don't have to have travelled to a country to be aware of its make-up and population because there are things about it on telly. Although that said I've also heard it said that US tv, news especially, is very US-centric, not covering much at all to do with other countries. Can't vouch for how true that is, obviously, since I've never seen it.

baglady, re saying you're a quarter Swedish, someone raised an interesting point about that upthread in how Americans identify with their heritage more than others seem to and I meant to touch on that earlier. I'm of Scottish and Irish descent - I'm actually only a technically a quarter English. The biggest part of my makeup - 50 percent - is Scottish, followed closely by Irish.  But I would never say 'I'm Scottish' or 'I'm Irish', because I'm not. I'm English. I was born in England, I've lived in England all my life, I speak with an English accent. Whereas an American with my ancestry might say 'I'm Irish', even though they were born in the US, have lived there all their life, speak with an American accent and have probably never even been to Ireland.

I don't think it's a 'how many generations' thing either, because my mother was entirely Scottish in her ancestry and her parents actually were from Scotland. She would still have said she was English through and through, because she was born here and lived here.

Agreed.  My ancestry if you go back far enough is Half Engolish, quarter Irish, quarter Scottish.
That said, I also have ancestry migrating to Australia on the First Fleet so you also don't get more Australian than that!  I don't ever elaborate past Australian unless the conversation is specificlaly on my historical ancestry.  I don't identify as British.

Katana_Geldar

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That would depend on what tv you watch, and I generally distrust anything factual or documentary done by Americans unless it's about America. Somehow the Brits guve it more class.

Outside that and into shows...no, I completely disagree. It's television and movies that give people the wrong indignation in the first place.

perpetua

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That would depend on what tv you watch, and I generally distrust anything factual or documentary done by Americans unless it's about America. Somehow the Brits guve it more class.

In the interests of balance, us Brits also have some absolutely dreadful telly, factual or otherwise. And don't forget the Daily Mail!

Hmmmmm

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Interesting points in the two posts above. What about TV though? You don't have to have travelled to a country to be aware of its make-up and population because there are things about it on telly. Although that said I've also heard it said that US tv, news especially, is very US-centric, not covering much at all to do with other countries. Can't vouch for how true that is, obviously, since I've never seen it.

baglady, re saying you're a quarter Swedish, someone raised an interesting point about that upthread in how Americans identify with their heritage more than others seem to and I meant to touch on that earlier. I'm of Scottish and Irish descent - I'm actually only a technically a quarter English. The biggest part of my makeup - 50 percent - is Scottish, followed closely by Irish.  But I would never say 'I'm Scottish' or 'I'm Irish', because I'm not. I'm English. I was born in England, I've lived in England all my life, I speak with an English accent. Whereas an American with my ancestry might say 'I'm Irish', even though they were born in the US, have lived there all their life, speak with an American accent and have probably never even been to Ireland.

I don't think it's a 'how many generations' thing either, because my mother was entirely Scottish in her ancestry and her parents actually were from Scotland. She would still have said she was English through and through, because she was born here and lived here.

As someone else mentioned, when immigrants came to the US, they grouped in communities and kept much of their traditions. So someone who grew up in an Irish American community is going to have very different traditions than someone who grew up in an Italian American or Mexican American community. So they do refer to their heritage because it is still part of their culture.

There is very little international tv programming in the States that English speaking other than BBC America. And from my experience that programming doesn't really represent the diversity the UK and other shows reinforce the stereotypes. I can only think of one British actor who isn't Caucasian that would be known in the US.

Katana_Geldar

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That would depend on what tv you watch, and I generally distrust anything factual or documentary done by Americans unless it's about America. Somehow the Brits guve it more class.

In the interests of balance, us Brits also have some absolutely dreadful telly, factual or otherwise. And don't forget the Daily Mail!
There is a certain gravitas an English accent gives to a documentary, particularly if that's Stephen Fry or Michael Palin.

perpetua

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Interesting points in the two posts above. What about TV though? You don't have to have travelled to a country to be aware of its make-up and population because there are things about it on telly. Although that said I've also heard it said that US tv, news especially, is very US-centric, not covering much at all to do with other countries. Can't vouch for how true that is, obviously, since I've never seen it.

baglady, re saying you're a quarter Swedish, someone raised an interesting point about that upthread in how Americans identify with their heritage more than others seem to and I meant to touch on that earlier. I'm of Scottish and Irish descent - I'm actually only a technically a quarter English. The biggest part of my makeup - 50 percent - is Scottish, followed closely by Irish.  But I would never say 'I'm Scottish' or 'I'm Irish', because I'm not. I'm English. I was born in England, I've lived in England all my life, I speak with an English accent. Whereas an American with my ancestry might say 'I'm Irish', even though they were born in the US, have lived there all their life, speak with an American accent and have probably never even been to Ireland.

I don't think it's a 'how many generations' thing either, because my mother was entirely Scottish in her ancestry and her parents actually were from Scotland. She would still have said she was English through and through, because she was born here and lived here.

As someone else mentioned, when immigrants came to the US, they grouped in communities and kept much of their traditions. So someone who grew up in an Irish American community is going to have very different traditions than someone who grew up in an Italian American or Mexican American community. So they do refer to their heritage because it is still part of their culture.

There is very little international tv programming in the States that English speaking other than BBC America. And from my experience that programming doesn't really represent the diversity the UK and other shows reinforce the stereotypes. I can only think of one British actor who isn't Caucasian that would be known in the US.

Oh yes, I understand that, that makes perfect sense. What I'm not quite understanding is - and this seems to be particularly relevant to people of Irish descent - why they say 'I'm Irish'. 'Irish-American', I would understand (I hear that in relation to Italian-American, but not so much the Irish-desended folks). Perhaps it's just shorthand.

Under-representation is a problem on UK telly too, which is probably why you can only name that one actor. Shows such as Eastenders, for example, are often criticised for being un-representative of the communities they're supposed to portray, and they can be very cookie-cutter in their approach to inclusivity. The East End is a very culturally vibrant and diverse place, yet the show's characters are almost exclusively white with an Asian family (and when we refer to 'Asian', it usually means of Indian or Pakistani descent, rather than Chinese) and a black family thrown in here and there and it sometimes comes across as anything but inclusive because such a big deal is made of them being 'The new Asian family' when they're introduced, rather than just 'a new family'.  (that made no sense, it's 3am here...)

It's particularly a problem in relation to disabled people, as well as ethnicity. There are precious few disabled characters on UK tv and when they do appear they're usually introduced to highlight an 'issue' in relation to their disability rather than just as a normal character who happens to be disabled - and very often they're played by non-disabled actors. I can only name two disabled actors who portray disabled characters on British tv and that's because one of them is a friend of mine and the other has my condition so I know about her role through the charity. That's a bit of a tangent though.

Psychopoesie

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My family seemed to have come from either Scotland or north of England, with only a couple of exceptions. My dad's mum was the most recent immigrant - born in Scotland, came over as an 11 year old in the early 20th century. It doesn't really come up unless we're talking about family history.

If you asked, I'd identify as Australian. However, I've also heard others say they have a big
Irish-Australian family or Greek-Australian, for example.

It was interesting to see that, on one of those fab maps, Australia showed up as fairly homogenous culturally. Really surprising, since over a quarter of our population was born overseas and another fifth had one parent born overseas. Of course, it all depends on where you live - Sydney and Melbourne are more culturally diverse than some smaller country towns, IME. Although the Darwin I grew up in was a fairly multicultural place.




gramma dishes

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Not sure where Mom got it but growing up (Massachusetts ) we had carpet in the bathroom.  It was cut to fit the room and had a rubber backing like a bath mat.  So if something happened she could take the whole thing up and throw it in the wash.  There was vinyl flooring underneath and it wasn't that big a bathroom.  It was nice on a cold day :-)

We had that kind in our kids' bathroom when they were little. It was fuzzy and felt warm and cozy to their little feet when we got them out of the tub.  It was also a lot less slippery for them which was our actual reason for getting it.   It got washed several times and eventually the backing got all funky so we threw it out.

baglady

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My mentioning my Swedish ancestry was just a facetious aside, pointing out that not all people of X heritage conform to the X heritage stereotype (in the case of Swedish, tall and blond -- I am neither). I don't identify as Swedish-American, or attend Swedish-American cultural events. I can say "thank you" in Swedish, because my grandmother taught it to me umptyzillion years ago, but that's about it. But my gene pool is actually pretty muddy -- in addition to the Swedish, there's English, Irish, French Canadian and supposedly Penobscot Indian, and goodness knows what else.

Some Americans do identify strongly with their ancestors' country of origin. Often, but not always, they are the children or grandchildren of immigrants -- so they grew up around people who actually *lived* in the "old country" and still spoke the language and/or practiced the traditions. They might say "I'm Italian/Irish/Greek/Polish," but that is, as Perpetua said, a kind of shorthand. What they really mean is "I'm Italian-American," or "I'm an American of Irish descent."
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perpetua

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My mentioning my Swedish ancestry was just a facetious aside, pointing out that not all people of X heritage conform to the X heritage stereotype (in the case of Swedish, tall and blond -- I am neither). I don't identify as Swedish-American, or attend Swedish-American cultural events.

Oh yes, sorry - I understood that, but your post reminded me of what someone else upthread had said about identifying so I used it as an opportunity to jump in with something I meant to say about three days ago ;D Sorry for the confusion.

Wordgeek

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There's a university in my neck of the woods named after an early explorer who came from Scotland.  Ergo, it has a bagpipe band and celebrates Robbie Burns Day by parading the haggis.  8)  ;D