I caught Dr. Dan Gottlieb’s radio show, “Focus on Family” on WHYY on Monday and I was intrigued. The topic was immigration and how children and families are affected by immigration issues (legal as well as illegal). One anecdote in particular caught my attention. A woman called in and identified herself as Jamaican-American. As a first-generation American mother, she was concerned about how to help her children, who were born in America, navigate American cultural norms. She explained that during one family trip to Jamaican she assisted her children in purchasing colorful bracelets to give as presents to their friends in America. When her children tried to give their friends the bracelets, the gifts were refused because parents believed the bracelets were somehow related to Rastafarianism.
I could only imagine the sadness the mother and her children felt to have their gift rebuffed. It reminded me that Americans, for all our good qualities, can be rather myopic when it comes to understanding other people’s cultures. It was a very interesting broadcast so I highly recommend listening to it.