Editorial: Embrace the American cultural melting pot

October ushers in many cultural events, and people should take this time to learn about these cultures and celebrate diversity in the U.S. 

When it comes to appreciating different cultures, most people think about brands and companies putting out products and labels to celebrate special days and months. Politicians express a vague appreciation for those communities but never talk about or fight for their rights until the same time next year. 

The Shorthorn Editorial Board encourages its readers to be open to immersing themselves in different cultures and having conversations with people from different backgrounds or countries. 

Americans should embrace their diverse population and learn to respect one another regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. 

Everybody needs to learn about the history of cultures because that heritage may have impacted American lives today. It may be challenging to re-learn what one has been taught about certain historical events, but having these discussions help people become more educated and less ignorant.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. People should utilize this month to participate in events around campus and learn more about Hispanic history and cultures. They should look past the political pandering and product marketers’ consumerism. Many shops utilize Día de Los Muertos to sell Halloween costumes, which borders on cultural appropriation. 

Rather than falling for shallow marketing strategies, people should look up the history of the sacred holiday and learn more about it. While it is tempting to put on makeup, dress up and post photos on social media for likes and shares, it’s better to have engaging conversations with the Latino community and become aware of the obstacles they face daily. 

More Latinos participate in politics and social matters now than before. The 117th Congress has 46 Hispanic House and Senate members, more than any year before, representing the population’s demographic. 

People should learn about them and their platform to promote changes for their community. Perhaps they may become more willing to vote for these politicians in the upcoming elections. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which counters the Columbus Day holiday that former President Richard Nixon officially declared back in 1972, is Oct. 11. In 1977, a delegation of Native Nations proposed the new holiday to the U.N. to fight against discrimination against Indigenous populations. 

People had become more attentive to the atrocities the Native Americans endured and realized they could shed light on how the community populated the land long before European colonizers arrived. 

While Texas neither celebrates Columbus Day nor Indigenous People’s Day, big cities like Austin and Houston have recognized the latter. 

Currently, over 1,900 mascots in U.S. schools appropriate Native American culture, according to data by the National Congress of American Indians. 

The mascots have negatively affected Native American students by undermining the educational experiences of members of all communities by using Native American mascots, symbols, images and personalities, according to the Center for American Progress. 

While people may say wearing these costumes help honor the Native American community, they don’t feel that way. There are other ways people can celebrate the community without misappropriating the culture.

People should educate themselves on the history of Indigenous people and what happened to them back when the Europeans arrived on their land. They can also donate to many charity organizations that benefit Native American communities.

There is a fine line between cultural appreciation, where people feel inspired by the culture, and cultural appropriation, where one steals aspects of the culture without knowing its history or by presenting the culture disrespectfully.

While people should engage in nuanced conversations with natives from different cultures, these discussions should occur outside of these themed months as well. Everyone should continue to discuss and learn about these cultures daily.

Everybody should utilize cultural months to appreciate different minority communities and be more willing to expose themselves to new cultures and respect them at their face value. Americans should realize the U.S. is a melting pot of culture and learn about the reality of issues facing exploited communities.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Dang Le; Editor-in-Chief Angelica Perez; associate news editor Cole Kembel; Katecey Harrell, life and entertainment editor; design editor Vivian Santillan; news reporter Taylor Coit; and copy editor Jill Bold. Coit was not present for this editorial decision, and managing editor Adrian Rodriguez filled in. 


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