Individuality shapes people and forms our communities based on the way people think. These communities are made up of various cultures and traditions, as well as, races and ethnic backgrounds. Culture is what unites us as human beings; it also divides us into different ethic neighborhoods. Even though each community is unique, some share similar aspects of different areas. Each community has to deal with certain hardships like stereotyping or bigotry. Understanding and appreciating cultural differences will better prepare people to live in a universal neighborhood.
In Superman and Me the author Sherman Alexei revealed that “His father was an avid reader of westerns, spy thrillers, murder mysteries, gangster epics, basketball player biographies and anything else he could find” (208Alexie). His father gives him a tradition for reading; together with his father’s love and devotion for books it also gives him a dedication for books too. So then, at an early age he begins to read a Superman comic book. However, it is different for students in Bodega Dreams. In Bodega Dreams their culture and race gave them the ability to speak two languages. Their science teacher, Jose Tapia, who was young and Latino wanted his students to succeed in life, as he had with the help of his community. Tapia explains to his students that because “You speak two languages, you are worth two people” (167Quinonez). According to their teacher, speaking two languages will help broaden their job opportunities, making them more valuable in the work place.
Maile Meloy gives us some insight about cultural traditions in her book called Ranch Girl. When adolescents become a certain age, they start to go out and socialize. They find a unique place that they can go to drink, maybe get a little rowdy and just mingle. Young woman will do their hair and makeup in hopes that they will be noticed by someone special. On the other hand, young men will be showing off to impress a certain young lady. Teenagers in urban communities are no different than country teens.
They are looking to socialize whether it happens to be on the beach, a quite place on a hill overlooking the city or maybe just at a friend’s house relaxing. In the story Superman and Me, Alexei explains how as Indian children they were expected to fail. Populations stereotyped Indians as dangerous drunks that were not capable of learning to read or write. Alexie refused to be labeled as such and states “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky. I read books late into the night until I could barely keep my eyes open” (209Alexie). Alexie was trying to save his life; a life that may have been filled with poverty, fear and he might have become that stereotype. The stereotyping in Bodega Dreams is between the White community and the Latino community. Mr. Blessington was seen in society as being well bred, having good values and being respected. As an English teacher in Julia de Burgos Junior High, his true colors come thought with his racist remarks to his students. With whom he verbally abuses by telling them that “the boys were all going to end up in jail and that all the girls were going to end up hooking” (167Quinonez). Mr. Blessingtion abuses his position as a teacher by giving negative reinforcement to his students over and over to the point where a student assaults him.
In the story Ranch Girl, some people never leave their town like the author Meloy, who felt secure, not wanting to leave their comfort zone. Meloy states “But none of these things seem real; what’s real is the payments on her car and her mom’s crazy horses, the feel of the ranch road she can drive blindfolded, and her dad needing her in November to bring in the cows” (166Meloy). Every community has a different way of doing things and it has an impact on the people in that community. In Superman and Me the author lives on the reservation and exclaims “A smart Indian is a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike” (209Alexie). In the end, Alexie returns to the school as a teacher to try and save them too by teaching them what he has learned. Similarly in Bodega Dreams, Tapia feels he has a responsibility to his students of the same ethnicity making them understand they have value. All people are unique and with that it helps to form their neighborhoods. In Superman and Me and Bodega Dreams they have culture and traditions that will get passed down.
Like the love of reading books, being able to speak a second language with the hope of achieving success. Teenagers gather to socialize in the book Ranch Girl as all teens do in every community. Socializing is important for adolescents. Teens need to respect other people and their ideas; also taking responsibility for their own actions is part of becoming an adult. Neighborhoods also have to deal with stereotypes and bigotry like in the book Bodega Dreams and Superman and Me. Citizens have had to deal with being labeled as unintelligent, dangerous, and lazy. They are not expected to succeed, so they need to fight for themselves or have someone fight for them. Communities need to educate themselves on other cultures and traditions. People need to examine the correct way of handling others of different ethnicity by showing respect, patience and kindness.
Meloy,M. n.d. Ranch Girl. In: James, M. and Merickel, A. eds. 2002. Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 4th ed. Pearson, pp. 162-166.
Quinonez, E. n.d. Bodega Dreams. In: James, M. and Merickel, A. eds. 2002. Reading and Writing Argument. 4th ed. Pearson, pp. 167-172.
Alexie, S. n.d. Superman and Me. In: James, M. and Merickel, A. eds. 2002. Reading and Literature and Writing Argument. 4th ed. Pearson, pp. 208-210.