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Influence of Dominant Culture

Essay Topic:

Eunice Oh Jerome 2/24/11 Essay 3 Draft 1 Influences of Dominant Cultures There are many historical stories and daily events where we can see influences of dominant cultures. When a dominant power controls a minority power, there can have some positive effects; however, most of the influences are negative. The memoir, When I Was Puerto Rican, by Esmeralda Santiago, is a great example of how the majority can have a variety of influences on the minority.

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The influences of a dominant culture on others can cause some limitations upon the minority’s actions or behaviors that can be seen as “against the norm”, can cause the minority to lose their culture and assimilate into the majority and possibly lead to suffering, mistreatment, and discrimination by majority groups. The dominant culture or power can cause some limitations to the minority’s actions. In the memoir, When I Was Puerto Rican, Negi shows how men have power over women in a family. In Puerto Rico, men are supposed to work outside and be the breadwinner of the family.

Women are not expected to have a job, but instead are subjected to a domestic role, such as doing the housework and raising children. This dominant traditional culture imposes many limitations on women such as not as many jobs are available compared to the opportunities offered to men and need to get married before they reach a certain age to not be called Jamonas, which translates to “old, unmarried woman”. In the memoir, Mami gets a job and tells Negi to take care of her siblings. This causes her family members to feel different ways.

Negi expresses, “I couldn’t help the tears that broke my face into a million bits, which made her kneel and hold me”(112). Negi describes how Mami has to get up even earlier than before to make breakfast and go to work. The dominant culture of females doing the housework requires Mami to work both outside and at home. Also, since the dominant culture is expecting women to stay at home, people view Mami as a woman who does not fit with the norm. It is hard to break dominant traditional cultures that place many limitations on the minority.

In Puerto Rico, people call unmarried old woman Jamonas. Because the dominant culture sees those women with certain perception, it already makes other people see Jamonas in a wrong way. This will impose many limitations on Jamonas’ actions such as when they try to get a job or to get married. Having limitations is not the only influence of the dominant culture. It can also cause the minority to lose their culture and become a part of the majority. In the article, “Alien Soil”, Jamaica Kincaid recalls what she sees about the influence of a dominant culture in her experience. There was naturally an attempt among some of them (Antiguans) to imitate their rulers in this particular way—by rearranging the landscape—and they did it without question”. Antiguan people are following the dominant ruler (the English) without noticing and questioning what they are doing. Since it is more likely that the majority will greatly influence the culture and way of life of the minority. It can result in the minority losing their culture. Also, as the dominant culture influences the minority, it is likely that the minority follows and believes that the dominant side seems right.

When Hitler first became the dictator of Germany, it is certain that many citizens did not want Hitler to be the dictator. However, as Nazi power became dominant, citizens slowly jumped the bandwagon. Citizens, who could be seen as the minority in terms of power, chose to follow the new dominant culture in order to survive and for the good of the country. This resulted in tragedy, which killed an unbelievable number of Jewish people during World War II. Therefore, it is important to decide if it is okay to follow the dominant power.

The Jewish people had to lose their culture since the Nazis tried to wipe out the gene of the Jewish. They did not have any power to oppose Hitler, which just leads to their death. Puerto Rico can be seen as an independent country, but the ultimate power belongs to the United States. This indirect dominant power of the United States over Puerto Ricans causes many influences. The older generation in Puerto Rico mostly opposed on the United States having power over them, but the younger generation seems to prefer the way they live right now. This shift in opinion was because of dominant power.

Since the United States helps them and was beneficial to them, the younger generation in Puerto Rico tend to follow the US’ dominant power. This might result in the loss of their culture due to the dominant culture’s influences. Another influence of the dominant culture is that the minority group usually suffers a lot of mistreatment and discrimination from the majority. Korea was once conquered by Japan around the early 1940’s, and some influences still remain as a scar in many people’s lives. Korea’s lack of improvement in the economy and educational system was later dominated by the Japanese style.

This was one of the few good parts of Japanese dominant culture influences from Korea. However, there are many negative influences that required many sacrifices from Koreans. Japan was in the war with America at that time, therefore, Japan took most of the military resources from Korea. Most citizens were forced to work like slaves and not treated like human. Those sacrifices still remain in many people’s lives. It brings a lot of influences to younger generation, too. Koreans and Japanese often show hatred toward each other when thinking about their belligerent history.

The memoir, Fairwell to Manzanar, by Jeanne Wakasuki, shows how the Japanese had to go through all the sacrifices because of the dominant power of the United States. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese people were placed in internment camps, even though they did not commit any crimes directly. However, the dominant power of the United States was enough to force the Japanese to the camps. It led to a lot of turmoil for them. Jeanne’s father lost his pride and power as the head of the family. They had to give up on their home, friends, and live in harsh conditions.

This historical memoir shows that dominant power can influence the lives of many people just because of they are powerless to fight back. There can be many positive influences of dominant cultures. However, having the dominant power on the minority is more likely to influence them in negative ways. It can cause many disturbances, such as the loss of minority power, and can also lead to sacrifices from the minority to survive from the majority. Therefore, it is crucial for both the majority and minority to cooperate to ensure the prosperity of the collective.

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