How We Act

When we are in our home culture, we relax with one another and develop shorthand and rhythms. A visitor would be well aware that they are out of their own element. We don’t need to go out of our home country, or even the neighborhood, to experience a different culture.

When we are members of a minority group, we are often on high alert to the broader cultural norms. Of course, we all align much of our daily behavior to fit within the dominant culture. It just makes things easier. We adjust how we act. Sometimes called code-switching, it can provide a level of efficiency and ease. But it can also be exhausting, especially if this is being done out of fear of ridicule or being ostracized.

Those who make these kinds of adjustments in how they act can sometimes face consternation from the elders in their family, fearing they are abandoning their own heritage. “Who do you think you are?” Living in multicultural environments isn’t always easy.

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