Diversity, Culture and Identity

I am interested in the diversity of people and cultures. I meet classmates from different countries in classes at North Seattle Community College every day. I believe that this experience will make different cultures more understandable to me. If people know other people’s cultures, they can respect them. I have been working as an Arts & Lecture Activities board member since fall quarter. I also work on the Day of Remembrance Committee at the North Seattle Community College. I have learned about some major issues and hidden history, which people often do not want to talk about. This year is the 70th Anniversary of the Day of Remembrance, of when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066, which ordered all Japanese-Americans to be imprisoned during Word War Two. I did not even know about this until just before I joined the committee. One of the committee’s events was to show a documentary film called “Mountains that Take Wing,” about two wonderful activist women, Yuri Kochiyama and Angela Davis. This movie took thirteen years to make, and shares and explains reflective conversations between these two internationally famous social justice activists. I went to the movie screening at the Seattle Asian Art Museum with the Day of Remembrance Committee and I met the directors of the film. The movie discussed many historical events that were not taught to me at school. I felt really emotional as I realized how people came together in the U.S. to fight for their civil rights despite many different levels of ethnic and cultural conflict. For example, I was very surprised to learn that Kochiyama was nearby when Malcom X was shot and had cradled his head during his final breaths. They had been working together to create crosscultural and crossracial alliances in the fight for equal rights. The movie directors told me it is very important to gain knowledge about the civil rights movement and work to pass it on to newer generations. I believe that when we better understand other people’s different thoughts, histories, and cultures, it is easier to accept our differences.

I define Diversity as a group of people of different races, cultures, and sexual orientations. Further, our different identities or (dis-)abilities is a part of diversity, too. I believe that experiencing all of these differences lead us to develop open-minded relationships and deep critical thinking.  In the past, when I was working with special needs children, I realized that in public some people would react and make assumptions about the children because of their obvious physical or behavioral differences. There were even some people who spoke rude words to them. I think it is a lack of knowledge that can lead to fear, so I now seek to find ways to encourage communication and remove barriers between people. Through attending the Students of Color Conference in two years in row, I believe I have developed an awareness about how our identities have been shaped by culture and history. This has helped me better understand the major issues that have shaped diverse cultures and identities. I have also developed more confidence in my own identity.

Tomoko Okada

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One thought on “Diversity, Culture and Identity

  1. […] through blogging. The posts are about a variety of topics from teaching children about science, what diversity means to Tomoko Okada and how she has developed more confidence in her identity as a result, one […]

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