I'm going to be very real for a moment. I'm sure I'll offend someone as I have in the past. But maybe this post will shed some light on why my opinionated, sometimes smart-ass, sometimes stupid comments have been what they have in the past. And why I'm apologizing for it.
I just read this article: 7 Stages of White Identity
While the title and some of the article doesn't exactly pertain to me, it definitely hit a cord. The cultural identity cord. I live abroad amongst a slew of cultures. I teach their kids. I go out for drinks with friends from the 4 corners of the globe. I travel the world. And I love every minute of it. And then I get "back home" and talk to friends in America, and I get feelings of embarrassment, guilt, shame, frustration, self-righteousness about being American and rising above my "Americanness". I've often had this attitude that I'm enlightened above those Americans who haven't traveled, who don't know people from other cultures. I've thought my diverse friends and experiences gave a more realistic view of the world rather than the narrow small-town perspective I grew up with. While my experiences have definitely shaped my perspective, my attitude and stages of cultural awareness have sometimes made me a big jerk. I've been naive.
All the embarrassment, guilt, shame, frustration, and self-righteousness are real feelings. I can't deny that. But they come from my internal process of trying to sort out cultural identity - the culture of others, my culture, and the culture I grew up in. Just like the guy in the article, I've definitely gone through phases. They're not quite the same as this guy, but I would say I've been sitting in an "ashamed" phase for awhile. Ashamed that I'm American. Ashamed at what my country thinks, does, chooses. So ashamed that sometimes I don't want to admit I'm American. What an ungrateful brat.
The truth is, I can now see that this has been part of my process of reconciling the cultural clashes I see around me. Christians vs. Muslims. Black vs. White. White privilege. How does a white Christian American girl fit in the world when she doesn't want to be against anyone? I don't want the "versus" in my life. I want to be part of reconciliation and love of all people. And reading this article today makes me realize that all my comments (harsh, real, naive and stupid) have been the verbal vomit representation of this processing inside of me.
So I apologize to those I've conversed with baring this attitude. Family, friends, you've been very gracious over the years. The years of me processing cultural diversity and my place in it. I'm still in the midst of it and will no doubt share some self-righteous opinion at some point. Sorry in advance. Working on it.
Today I feel like I'm entering an "awareness" phase. Awareness that I'm processing my cultural identity. I don't need to be ashamed. I need to continue to learn and be respectful to everyone as they process their own identities. I need to be patient with myself and others as we all go through this process in our own time and through our own experiences. And I need to be grateful. I am grateful. Grateful to have the privileges I've been given, to know the people I know, to see the places I've seen. Now what to do with it...