Read this post from my friend Sooraj. Follow him at http://aranting.blogspot.com/2008/04/cross-cultural-hurdles.html
We should not measure culture, ideas or thoughts with our own yardstick rather the means by which they make such predictions.
I have always prided myself on being culturally, religiously and other types of "ly" tolerant but Sooraj taught me that there was room for growth.
If you went to Jamaica and wanted to.experience what I used to call real Jamaica, I would not advise you to go to one of the tourist locations nerely because it is not an accurate depiction of how a "typical" Jamaican lives. We dont vegetate on the beach all day because we have to work. My usage of the words "real/typical" did not have a negative connotation or mean that we lived a lifestyle of lesser quality because we were not on the beach, it simply meant that the majority of Jamaicans did not live that way. Clearly I did not mean, come let me show you the poverty stricken ghettos because that was not how I was raised. It also did not mean lets go see the rich and famous, the Parliament or the dancehall stars. In effect, I guess I was using my lifestyle as the prototype for what it meant to be a typical Jamaican. But then I realized something, I was
A. Creating a stereotype and putting people into a box of how real Jamaican lived or should live and by doing that
B. Taking away from the "real" people who lived in Jamaica but worked in the tourism industry.
The point is people are different in many ways and similar in many ways. What binds them together through culture should not limit them or pigeon hole them to a certain standard. Culture is a collective thought but it is made up of a number of individual people with different perspectives, lifestyles and paths.
I've experienced positive and negative stereotypes of what it meant to be Jamaican for example
"Really, you are Jamaican and youve never smoked weed?" or
Oh youre Jamaican, you must know how to dance or
Oh you lived in Jamaica for 16 years, when did you learn how to speak English??
Noo, stop lying you dont "look Jamaican"
You must be a good cook
You dont sound Jamaican
You must know how to run fast
You dont act Jamaican
Thank God for hindsight and thank God for friends who will challenge you and your thinking!