Family Traditions in White, Black, Chicano, and Asian Cultures
It has long been said that tradition makes a person. “Tradition is simply defined as a manifestation of human ideals within a group or community practiced generation to generation” (Rockwell 11). Most people however do not practice traditions within their culture often nowadays. Sometimes culture bleeds into film or television re-invigorating our sense of belonging and our need to keep the tradition alive. Traditions within White, African American, Chicano, and Asian culture have blended into one another a bit over time as all things seem to do—but they are uniquely different on their own.
Discussing each culture microscopically helps us understand the why’s and wherefores of the origin of a staple tradition within that community. For example, in white culture, heavy importance on major holidays is a staple for white families to gather. This is shared with Chicano’s. In contrast, to Black or African American groups—it seems that family get-togethers are too few or far between. “Hispanics, especially Mexican Americans are oriented toward family well-being. First-generation and second generations have a good sense of reunification and surrounding each other with food and comfort” (Cotera, The Chicana Movement). This reinstates bonding and promotes Chicano progress.
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For White Americans, there is a “me and mine approach” that individuals and families have adopted. In the “United States’ early days the culture of Americans who were exclusively white at the time was viewed as a sort of ‘backwoods and improper’ style by the Old World. In fact, Benjamin Franklin would wear a raccoon skin hat to meet with the king (Rockwell 23). Moreover, this backwoods do-at-will mentality has carried on through the ages—making it almost a lifestyle choice for an average red-blooded white American man or woman. An example of this can be seen on every Independence Day, where we rampantly display our flag & pride for the world to take notice. But with all these varying differences what values do we all share? In particular, Asians and Hispanics tend to revere the same life events or coming of age celebrations as a way to christen the next generation. “Chicanos spend hours organizing “Bodas” i.e. weddings and quinceaneras as a way to usher their young off into the world” (Cotera, The Chicana Movement). Asians like the Japanese and Chinese display this in the child-rearing stages. The Japanese have a core set of principles that are passed down from a long lineage to produce successful offspring or to ensure they are ‘set for life.’ Among these principles—honor, dignity, and loyalty. You can see how this plays a definitive role in the overall makeup of a responsible human being.
If the Japanese find honor and loyalty to be assets in growth or well-being, let’s dissect that more. For instance, when a 20-year-old Japanese man is utilizing his education in the job market—his sense of independence and dignity might be a stepping stone to greater opportunity. This can also be seen in the qualities of being loyal as one age—keeping friends and solidifying your family unit. A simple thought process that we can all adopt- a universal convention. We are linked by our sense of tradition. It is our identity. In the United States, many of the struggles within these cultural groups gave rise to instill culture inside of us. “Parallel patterns of community development occurred with Japanese immigrants who quickly established Japantown’s & Little Tokyo’s in the 1890s and with Filipino immigrants who settled in Manila towns in the 1920s up to and down the West Coast” (Tatum 49). Immigrant communities erected villages and built most of the early flourishing businesses in the 1970s and ’80s. Struggle and hardship produced effective economic growth and security in some cases, as history revealed.
Here is where we tie Chicano tradition and belief into immigrant beginnings. Values of security, freedom, religious ideology and gender roles somewhat define this group via hardship and failure. “In the heart of the Chicano pride and movement is a belief in the expression of freedom. A Chicano second-generation child usually is aware of womanhood, manhood, identity, gender roles, and family” (Cotera, Chicano Movement). If you aren’t a true Chicano and adopt an Anglo lifestyle in the states, they deem you a “vendida” which literally means ‘sell-out’. By way of reducing your Hispanic identity and becoming “too anglo” ( which asserts you are All-American by thought process), you are betraying country pride and yourself.
That is a tall order from a country you might only have been born in and then migrated to the States. However, that is the system of rules we pay our countrymen. It is a system we somewhat are married to as we grow older. Minorities who value working hard seem to be heavily reliant on family, where White culture identifies as very “independently wealthy.” Whites and Asians have a starkly apparent traditional aspect that is shared when it comes to wealth. White/Caucasians work hard to have money and keep it. Asians derive ideas of security from a good education and a secure career. Black culture is different in upbringing. Values aren’t as well placed as perhaps Asians or Chicano’s. “We see a surprisingly disappointing dive in Blacks attending college. The interest to be in school, obtain a career, and sustain a family isn’t as rich in their society” (Sered, Young Men of Color). In theory, this might be perpetuated economically or perhaps family by family—but where an Asian woman might be sticking to values and expectations set by a strict parent- an independent young black woman of the same background can too. This is where tradition might be a deeper success marker. However, no one knows.
If tradition is stressed often enough through a single person like you and I—how does tradition shape our individual goals? Are we more accomplished if we put our families, friends, and careers first? Clues provide it might. Mexicans believe if they apply some pride, they’ll center the home &children around this ideology. “Blacks often have community bonding via “backyard roasts” or “block parties” where the ability to see familiar faces in an inviting atmosphere inspires a societal wellness of. some sort” (Sered, Young Men of Color). Indeed we all have this orientation of pride—but the more we put our core traditions and values forward, history has exhibited that we obtain a stronger individual awareness. Where this has an absence we have unfortunately seen serious destruction in a community or group. Example in war and more recently with acts of terror. There is no loyalty and dignity obviously as a source there. Maybe tradition has nothing to do with that entirely. But an upbringing can sure change a person’s acute sense of worth.
“Our traditions act as a moral compass for most of our human relationships and personal interactions, the qualitative experiences of our family life, and ultimately the development of civilized societies themselves. As we honor traditions–we learn to honor ourselves, and in the final analysis- each other” (Rockwell 8). As we arrive at a time in history where we are altering our social and political views, our history fundamentally reminds and serves to re-educate us of our own identities and creeds. That is priceless. Tradition in all of the cultures we examined has a string of beauty to it. They are all woven around core stances, the value of hardship, belief systems passed from our ancestors, and the heart of the family.