Taiye Selasi’s “Don’t Ask Where I’m From…” Talk

Culture is a concept that could be hard to understand, let alone measure, sometimes. As we go through with our lives, we meet a wide variety of very different people who carry very different experiences. After watching Taiye Selasi’s TED talk, I have reflected deeply on everything she said about countries being secondary to cultures and found that I agree with her. Culture by no means can be measured thoroughly only by attributing it to a country, as even inside one state, people’s cultural experiences may vary quite wildly. Select states that “history was real, cultures were real, but countries were invented” (02:58). By equalizing culture to country, we erase a person’s individuality and condemn their identity to reflect only a general view of a culture they seem to belong to. Nevertheless, they might not even be a part of that culture or identify themselves with other, much less known aspects of it. I support the speaker when she claims that “locality bespeaks humanity” (Selasi, 2014, 15:02). In my opinion, it is the local, more narrowed-down experiences that shape our identities and create the cultural legacy we hold.

Multiculturalism is, in its essence, a driving force that brings together the differences that make us who we are and tries to establish peace between many variables of human nature. The multitude of aspects in which lies the self-identification of any group that is bound by its own set of rules, practices, rituals, and historical legacy contains the concept of culture as we know it. In the ever-going globalization of the world, a person is constantly at the border of many cultures, because of their birth and growing up circumstances, traveling, or family setting. A human’s identity is shaped by the cultural experiences they have had, and each of us can represent many different cultures at once. I think that in order to integrate multiple cultures into one’s identity successfully– and by successfully, I mean to be able to share and take pride in them – one needs to understand the impact of each culture. To know and recognize how a cultural experience influences one’s perception of themselves and their life is, in my opinion, what a person can do to make multicultural integration as fruitful as possible.

Reference

Selasi, T. (2014). Taiye Selasi: Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local [Video]. TEDGlobal 2014. Web.