Some people even relate it to Italian families. They are similar in ways of their protective, caring and close-knit nature within households and with their families. The size of your family plays a huge part on how you interact with others. My father’s family is very large; he is one out of seven children and a good portion of them live close by with their families. On the other hand, my mother only has one sibling; and he had only one daughter. Since my father’s family was not as distant, I frequently saw my aunts, uncles and many cousins. I have a very close relationship with my first cousins, all 16 of them.
My relationship with them makes me realize the importance of having people close to you and how to maintain a close bond with those you love. I understand how to be there for my friends and family from viewing how my father’s family is and how I’ve become with my brothers and cousins. Religion guides your beliefs, thoughts and behaviors; whether you follow a specific religion or not. In my mother’s case, the household she grew up in was less religion influenced. Therefore, when it came down to it she began following my father’s religion, Catholicism. I remember listening in on my Teta praying in Arabic, for a good portion of the day.
Religion is extremely important to Middle Eastern Cultures. Lebanon has historical buildings and many different holy destinations. Because of the strong religious pull my father had, we would attend church every Sunday, and on other religious occasions. The church we went to was a Lebanese Catholic Maronite Church. Most of the program was in Arabic and around you could see families all sitting together, dressed up in their Sunday’s best. Cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents would all sit together and afterwards there would be drinks, food and snacks in the meeting hall for everyone to interact with each other.
In the most recent years we have started to go to church in an American church close by. The program is significantly shorter and the only families that tend to sit together or go together are immediate families. People are less dressed up, and go their separate ways after mass has ended; very different from the Catholic Maronite Church. The common misinterpretation of strong religion in Middle Eastern Culture is that all Middle Eastern people are just like the terrorist groups who are very religious. I remember how much people began judging Middle Eastern people especially after 9/11.
When we would go out in public people would look at my father differently, assuming he was just the same. During our trips to Lebanon, the following summers, he would constantly get pulled over for “random” searching or for questioning, simply on his racial appearance. Growing up in an interracial home made me view people differently. I did not have the racist thoughts that some people had towards blacks or Spanish people. I understood how they felt to be looked at different because I watched outside of the box as others did that to my father and his family. Years later I began dating someone who was black.
My father and his family completely disagreed with it because of their culture and the way they were brought up. Lebanese people were only supposed to date or marry other Lebanese people. We constantly argued over the subject because he was too hardheaded and stubborn to understand that he himself was basically in an “interracial relationship” because of the huge difference between the two cultures. Most people would prefer to date within their race or ethnicity. But for me that is not a measure of whomever I choose to date. According to USA Today, “in America 6% of marriages are interracial; in 1970, it was less than 1%.
A Gallup Poll on interracial dating in June 2005 reported that 95% of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of blacks and whites dating. About 60% of that age group said they have dated someone of a different race. ” v This statistic just goes to show how my father’s culture and age group was brought up, and how the newer generations feel about it. However, that is not the only big disagreement my father and I shared. A couple years ago I had gotten my nose pierced. He was completely against it, because to him the only people who wore them were people of less wealthy classes in his culture, who he referred to as “gypsies”.
Weeks went by before he would talk to me again because I would not listen to him and take it out. He did not understand that times were changing and that the culture he lived in now was different than his own. We would also argue on the time of my curfew, which was an earlier time than that of my brothers. Due to the simple fact that he felt girls had to continuously be protected and boys can go out and do whatever they desire almost; which also goes back to the terms “machismo” and “marianismo” which state that males “are given greater freedom” and females “are expected to be passive, obedient and weak and to stay in the home.
” ii I constantly would challenge my fathers conditioned beliefs, which was the spark in every argument we shared. Thankfully, my mother would stand up for me and for her American culture, which has shown more equality between males and females. Through the hardships my father has grown up with, he channeled it towards a more focused and driven attitude and way of life. He believes in the protestant work ethic, as Gary Soto did. vi Even as a young boy he worked many different jobs to bring home money for his family. And has taught my brothers and me the same lesson.
Although he came to this country with little in his pocket, he has successfully owned multiple properties, which he rents out, has become a realtor, has owned and sold restaurants and has provided for our family. In fact, the very first real paycheck he made went towards buying my grandmother, his mother, a brand new stove for my grandmother so that she was able to cook for the family. He understands the level of work and dedication required to be successful and constantly reminded us what we needed to do to stay on the right track. In the Lebanese culture education is very important.
He would make us do our homework right away, study constantly and even write/re-write our homework if he saw it as sloppy writing. It was very important to him that his migration to America was well worth it and that we could someday be even more successful than he has been. By no means does he want us to take advantage of what we do have as part of the upper-middle class. He and my mother provide us with clothes, food, our house, cars and more and makes sure we appreciate every last property or possession we own, almost as if we had nothing.
Overall, I see myself as a Caucasian female who is a Lebanese-American. My childhood and family environment has shaped me into becoming a thoughtful and caring human being. I understand the hard work, determination and dedication needed to be successful in the real world. In addition I have the opportunity and ability to see people for who they are, not what they are. I am more open to appreciating eating new foods and listening to different music from different cultures, as well as the desire to visit different countries.
Family is very important to me and will continue to be through out my life, through out my children’s lives and through out their children’s, and so on. I will continue to pass down the enriched and beautiful culture I have learned to love. By teaching my children Arabic, how to cook and bake recipes I’ve learned from both sides of my family and by taking them to see Lebanon. Hopefully some day I will be able show my parents just how thankful I am for what they’ve done by being even more successful than them.i “Lebanon (Civil War 1975-1991). ”
GlobalSecurity. org. Ed. John Pike. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. <http://www. globalsecurity. org/military/world/war/lebanon. htm>. ii Hyde, Janet Shibley. “Gender Roles and Ethnicity. ” Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. 5th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. 70-73. Print. iii Thompson, Doug Cooper. “The Male Role Stereotype. ” Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. 5th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. 78-80.
Print.iv Reifler, Ellen J. “Time Warp in the Toy Store. ” Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. 5th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. 65-67. Print. v Jayson, Sharon. “New Generation Doesn’t Blink at Interracial Relationships. ” USA Today. 08 Feb. 2006. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. <http://www. usatoday. com/news/nation/2006-02-07-colorblind_x. htm>. vi Soto, Gary. “Looking for Work. ” Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. 5th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. 128-30. Print.