I grew up In my environment, and that Is what one knows. My life started in Austin, Texas and that Is where the first ten years of my life took place. Although memories do not really start becoming vivid and detailed until after leaving Austin, I did still have lasting impressions from there. The culture there is much different than Green Bay. First of all, the diversity in ethnicity is glaring obvious compared to the primarily Caucasian ethnicity that is Wisconsin. There were no brats, no men that would fight over a disrespectful Jibe at the great Clay Matthews, and glaring heat.
Again though, no vivid memories on the subject of diversity besides the huge Hispanic culture. When the new century started is when my life in Wisconsin began. People here are used to the brats, the football, the brewers, fishing, sitting at the bar for awhile. In my opinion, although everyone Is unique, Westernizes tend to be very similar. There Is strong cultural transmission In this society, everyone does It and that Is what most of these kids are raised In. I can run Into my friend’s parents all the time at the bar, Its Just what Wisconsin people do.
Predominately Caucasian, the men Like the brewery and their sports. Women tend to eke those very same things. People from different ethnicity and different states just are not very common. My high school had a decent Asian-American population with a few African- Americans, but still typically Caucasian. In summary, mostly everyone was Caucasian and tended to have very similar beliefs and ideas. Then the culture shock of my life took place. I said goodbye to the comfortable environment that was Green Bay, and Joined the military to see the world and experience life outside of what one knows.
It started off In Pensacola, FL where I spent two months living without parental guidance for the first time, thus lacking additional awareness. I spent time there, but never really Immersed myself In the culture. Instead, I choose to take advantage of my new freedom by partying. Marginality also had effect, because the military was not a permanent thing, so I then resisted to the changes when I knew I had my good, old comfortable hometown waiting for me. There was no choice when the Navy said you are spending the next several years in Norfolk, Virginia.
There was serious migration of people all with seriously different backgrounds. That was when awareness of how different life is, when you step out of your comfort zone, became apparent. Almost immediately, I found myself as the only Caucasian within a 4 mile radius, and to say I did not like it was an understatement. There was no reason for my feelings to be abrasive and unwilling to accept this new environment, but still theft the same about. At the beginning, ethnocentric and slight prejudiced could have been used to describe me.
Not that real feelings of hatred towards this new culture ever were something that was In my personality, a way to act In this new environment was something that had not been taught. Everywhere around me, there were Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and to a lesser degree, homosexuals. I could show up to a shift, and be one of my boss’s boss was a black woman. They talked in ways unknown to me at the time. “Fool, Partner, Boss, Bet, Wall, Brush, Cue, Ninja,” are examples of slang that was confusing to me. “Alright then” was a perfectly fine thing to say to basically anything. Alright then, What? ” ,was usually my response. They would “roast” ,each other, which is basically making fun of someone, but not in a way meant to be offensive. Obviously, friends and enemies made fun of each other all the time, but then you knew how to handle it because they were either your friend or your enemy. Walking into a room full of people and getting roasted over my haircut led to me blushing, which led to me getting “roasted” for blushing. It was all very new to me, and with little time to adjust I reacted in defense. Refusing to adjust, I became wary of my surroundings.
Overly sensitive to the roasting and unnecessary anger to those I did not understand, which caused me to stay like this for a short while. When something is thrown at you with no apologies and no change in the foreseeable future, you tend to adjust to survive. When everyone around one is different, one tends to start to realize what nee knows is not really how it is. Although there were people of different ethnic backgrounds that had their own feelings about a Caucasian male, mostly they were Just people and looked at me the same. Besides the “roasting”, it seemed like they were some of the most friendly people I have ever met.
Adjustment started taking place, which was not hard. Men tend to like manly things: basketball, sports, women, the beach, and alcohol. These stood as things that could be used to find a common ground besides all our differences. A kid I knew in boot camp Juan Rand, became my best friend when he got sent to Virginia. Mexican tattoos all over his body, “Chicane” spelled out on the top of his back. He partied and talked to people in a way I had never seen. It was refreshing, and he would go down as the stepping stone to opening my mind to all these people.
Still again my work was on shore duty, so I interacted with these people, but at the end of the day Caucasians were still who I surrounded myself with. Getting sent to the US Enterprise was the most important factor in my life when it comes to my thoughts and feelings about diversity. Before, Caucasians were still the environment that was the most comfortable. Not to say the initial anger and abrasiveness was still there, it was not. I had not crossed over to the point where Hispanics or African-Americans were people I would spend time with outside of work.
Well, when you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean, you cannot escape to your comfort zone. After work activities now turned into weight lifting or cards with my coworkers, who were primarily not white. Port visits were when the ship stops in a foreign city, and we got to go out and immerse ourselves in that cities’ culture. You went in groups, usually with your coworkers who you spent most of your time with, ND experienced bonding moments. In order to have a strong bond, we had to have each others backs in ports or Just throughout the ship.
It is not all peaches and cream when 5000 people are stuck with each other in a steel prison for 45 days at a time. Friendships developed and you defended your friends from the “man”, the boss, the snitches. Before I realized it, I was going on port visits with the likes of Dominic Guttering, Alexandra Salary, Brandon Jackson, and Mike Williams which was After our deployment, we came back and had to readjust to being able to leave the hip and sleep in our own bed. The friendships and bonds did not die though, we did everything together. A house with Juan and Dominic, trips to California and Vegas with Luis and Dominic.
I once celebrated a birthday of mine at Buffalo Wild Wings with a girlfriend and close friends. I then realized, when I looked turnaround the table, my girlfriend and I were the Caucasian minority. All of my friends had turned into African-American and Hispanic. It was then that I really appreciated my experiences and realized the transformation that had taken place. My intention was not to look at hem as a different ethnicity but that for a second I realized these people, my friends, had gone completely from the comfortable, “known” Caucasian male to anybody that I liked.
There was no color anymore ,and the slang had slowly became my slang. Returning to Wisconsin, there really drove the point home. Now it was the people I used to know asking me “Alright then, what? ” Explanation for most of the words I use, still need to be given. I am not better than anybody in Wisconsin that has not left the state and experienced the same situations. Blessed is more the word, I was blind and ignorant to the facts of life. I viewed different ethnicity and cultures as not right realizing, now that there is no right or wrong.
Although we have different backgrounds and from that different beliefs, we are still a human being. The color of a persons skin does not affect ambition, loyalty, love for family, or kindness. The opportunity that was given to me is one of my most treasured experiences. Life long brothers are spread out throughout the country. They have a place to stay whenever they need, and vice versa. It is no longer that white kid from Wisconsin or my Mexican friend from California. It is Anthony and it is Dominic, my brother, and friend.