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In my 30+ years in the USA, my observation is that the RACE conversation is often at the heart of many debates while CULTURAL understanding is ignored and often misunderstood. I believe we need to do a better job of understanding the culture of a person or people group so we can grow forward together, while remembering and learning about systemic ways people are oppressed. On countless occasions, I have tested and observed the dynamic between race and culture, and realized that in many situations, the problem isn’t race, but instead culture.
My guest today was instrumental in helping me start my business and craft workshops that help individuals understand culture. See more information here: Workshops
My guest today is my dear friend Grace (Thuo) Kelley. She was born and raised in Kenya and has lived in the USA for the past 10+ years. Her husband Cory is African American and together they navigate the journey of understanding culture while balancing race relations in this country.
Grace is a staff accountant at the Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids, a non-profit organization that creates affordable housing, essential support services and acts as a catalyst for neighbourhood revitalization.
Below are some definitions of words we discussed during our conversation.
Race = physical characteristics, shared ancestry with common features.
Culture = customs, social behaviours and attitudes.
Assimilation = “the voluntary process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas. It is the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture. The process of becoming like something”.
Forced Assimilation = This is an involuntary process of cultural assimilation which basically shows a complete disregard of one’s ethnic and cultural background and the expectation that a person becomes like the culture they live in, in it’s entirety.
In the end, all of us assimilate to some degree, and we need to but sadly many lose sight of who they were created to be in the process. Let’s connect if this describes your struggle. To learn more: Cultural Coaching
Those of us that are immigrants understand these concepts better than most because it begins to shape our reality and how we see ourselves. Even though I immigrated from India to Canada at the age of 5 and then immigrated to the US in my early 20’s for marriage, I didn’t realize how much I assimilated into the western culture until I travelled internationally for speaking trips. The need for people to understand the culture of others runs deep because I have discovered that it is more unifying than it is divisive.
I encourage you to connect with an immigrant and learn about the impact of assimilation.
Here’s to Growing Forward Together as we find effective ways to unite people rather than divide them.