There are a lot of thing that can be said for making the definition of culture; Culture can be defined as the sum of actions and habits of a large group. Behaviors of people, languages that they use, religion and other beliefs, traditions, using of gestures, foods, clothing choices, music choices… They are the parts of it and together they create the culture perception. It can be seen that there are more than 150 definitions of culture have been made in the books but still it changes from people to people because it is a subjective judgment and the definition of it depends on how people see it.
People are in the center of it because they are the ones who create the culture. Sociologists have done a lot of research about culture and people or how it effects people behavior but only thing that people talk is how culture collects everybody together. It is true that culture brings people together but it is also the greatest factor of the discrimination of today’s society.
Culture brings the stereotypes and prejudices with itself. All parts of culture have an effective role in creating this generalizations but unlike what is known, stereotypes are not only about countries. There are types of stereotypes such as gender stereotypes, country stereotypes or group stereotypes. For example Italian people eat pasta every day or they use a lot of gestures while they are talking, women are bad at driving car, all teenagers are rebels or Goths wear only black clothes. Normally, stereotypes aren’t seen as a bad thing and these kind of stereotypes are harmless but there are some stereotypes that effect today’s World in a bad way; Muslims are terrorists is an example of this kind of stereotypes because it causes people to have prejudices between each other and makes people fear. They cause the racism and otherization by making people to have mold judgments.
Stereotypes come from mold judgments but the reason of this is that it is easier for people to act as a part of their culture which has already been defined a long time ago instead of identifying themselves. It can be seen that people have problems of defining themselves because they don’t try to know themselves and that’s why they have identity crisis, in this situation they choose to do what their cultural model says instead of thinking for themselves. For example a patriarchal order system can be seen in the Anatolian parts of Turkey. It can be seen that Turkish men usually say that they are Anatolian men and they use it as an excuse of their behaviors but all men can’t be the same just because they come from the same region, so it can’t be the excuse of their behaviors. Every person in this World have a personality which creates their own culture, so they can’t be define in a generalization culture model.
When children are raised to be aware of the idea that everybody is different, they grow up with a more conscious mind and they become more open-minded. It can be seen that countries who give an importance to this idea have more peaceful environments because people from those countries respect each other and they are aware of that everybody is independent beyond their cultures, their nationalities don’t even matter. They have their own cultures just like everybody else but what makes them different is that they don’t move in a general culture model, only thing that they do is respecting others’ ideas and personalities. As an opposite example, Turkey is one of those countries who gives importance only to exam results. Children grow up to be adults who are unconscious of their personalities because they are busy studying those lessons. That’s why they see their cultures as the definition of their characters because they don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out who they are, they choose to be assimilated to their general culture as it is easier. They are unaware of individualism. A lot of violence news can be seen because of this; a man beats someone because he believes that what other man has been doing is against to the Turkish culture, they don’t think that they have their own values, only thing that matters is moving appropriate to Turkish culture for them. However, these kind of actions are not only valid for Turkish people, acting through the culture is common in most of the countries. This is called “Microaggression Theory” in psychology.
Microaggression theory is first coined by Chester M. Pierce to describe insults and injustices which has been made by white American people against to African Americans. Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. In many cases, these hidden messages may invalidate the group identity or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, threaten and intimidate, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment.
While microaggressions are generally discussed from the perspective of race and racism any marginalized group in our society may become targets: people of color, women, LGBT persons, those with disabilities, religious minorities, and so on. For example a White woman clutches their purse or checks their wallet as a Black or Latino man approaches or passes them. (Hidden message: You and your group are criminals.). "So.. You are an Asian, right?" "She is really pretty for a black girl." These kind of microaggression actions don’t seem to be important for people who has been doing these but it is a result of racism and it makes “other” people feel discriminated by society, even if it has been doing unintentionally. However, actions cause by racism are not always had been as harmless as only making some people feel discriminated; there are a lot of people who has been killed only because of their races or religions.
As I said before, culture may cause people to be together but it also divides people if they don’t think as person but think in a general culture perception without considering their own personalities and values . No matter what it has been doing the effects of culture start by one person than it continues by effecting the larger. Making a change especially on culture is hard and it needs a lot of time; racism and nationalism can’t be ignored and they will always be in the World as long as the humans and nationalities exist, but they can be reduced by obtain the intercultural communication among the young people, so a better World with more tolerance can be more than an idea.
Candidate Member of Agora Leo Club, Turkey (118-R)