Thursday, April 8, 2021

Cultural Imperialism

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Cultural Imperialism

The forces of cultural imperialism are so strong that assimilation or elimination is inevitable. In Leslie Marmon Silko's story Lullaby, Ayah's children are taken away and learn of a new culture. Also in Lullaby, Ayah finds that after her children come back to visit many years later, the children have changed a lot and are not connected with their original culture anymore. In A Red Girl's Reasoning by E. Pauline Johnson, cultural imperialism is seen taking place in Christie and her family, and how Christie is accepted throughout the community like a white woman.

In Lullaby, a Navajo woman, Ayah, is taught how to sign her name in English by her husband. This is showing cultural imperialism in two ways one is that Chato, the husband, has learned English and has already been affected by the white man's culture; and two that Chato spreads the white man's culture to Ayah by teaching her how to sign her name. When the doctors come to Ayah's house, they ask her to sign papers. Although Chato is not home at the time and Ayah could not understand English, she is able to understand that the doctors want her to sign papers. She did not know what she was signing her name for, but she did not think that it was for a bad cause. The next day, the doctors come back and ask Chato and Ayah for their children. The doctors show Chato the papers that Ayah had signed which allowed the doctors to take their two children.

Many years from the day when Ayah's children were taken away, the children were allowed to come back and visit their parents again. Ayah saw her children and she spoke to them in Navajo, but the children did not understand much of the Navajo language anymore. They had been taught English and could not speak back to their mother in Navajo. This example is showing that cultural imperialism eventually took over the family. First, the father had been taught some English. Then he taught his wife how to sign her name in English. Finally, because Ayah signed her name on papers from the doctors that visited, her children were taken away to learn about a different culture. The children were not connected with their true culture afterwards, they had been changed into Americans.

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In A Red Girl's Reasoning, a Native Canadian woman, Christie, is marrying a white man named Charles. Cultural imperialism is seen here because Christie has already been taught English, and she acts like a white woman. She wears velvet and blue dresses, and she became Christian. She married Charles with a white person's ceremony. There was a priest who spoke in Latin, but he also congratulated the couple in Indian as a compliment to the Indian's that were at the ceremony. In the community, Christie is accepted like a white woman and is friends with everyone. Christie was born from a couple of which the mother was Native Canadian and the father was white. Her father taught her everything he knew, but she still kept part of her original culture in her. The author describes her and says, "One unfamiliar with Native Canadian life would find it difficult to determine her nationality" (Johnson ). Although Christie has held on to her roots as an Indian, she has been changed and affected by the white people that are in Canada.

In summary, I believe that the forces of cultural imperialism are so strong that assimilation or elimination is inevitable. Cultural imperialism from a large culture can be resisted and fought against, but it cannot be stopped, only slowed down. People who resist the forces of cultural imperialism will eventually be killed by the larger culture or they will change their beliefs in order to live. As seen in Lullaby, Ayah's children were taken away in order to be changed. The children were too young to resist, and Chato knew that he alone could not stop the doctors. Cultural imperialism can be deferred and disliked, but eventually a culture will dominate over another culture and take over.

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