Marina di Ragusa (Italy)
As I came to the United States in 2009, I realized what a true multi-cultural environment should really be: natural.
My life has been traveling degrees of heterogeneity: my first 12 years just in Sicily, 2+2 years just below Northern Italy with Italian students from all over the boot, experiences in Spain, Russia… So I went from being the outlier among 100% Christian Catholic, clean-floor-maniac, fashion addicted Sicilians to live in more and more diverse communities, where I finally stood out just by being funny, or competent, or by hugging too much.
It was then that I arrived in the U.S., where racial profiling and thrust for classification are perceived everywhere. I almost needed a children’s book and doodles to understand why Affirmative Action was at all important in 2009 (or 2011, for that matter). And there I am, the melting-pot, the land of plenty and freedom still produces noises such as “that stingy Jew”, “the cute little Asian woman”, all of which border with “is he gay or European” and “once you go black, you never go back”, in my opinion. Stereotypes.
A “normal” society should be based on equality. We are all grown-ups that understand that we are a biologic coincidence, and that biology doesn’t care of anyone’s bank account or family standard. Democracies allegedly praise equality, though placing a heavy weight on the differences within their societies. Be it minorities, women, or poor people, “normal” societies do not treat them as well as the others. By building a sense of bizarreness within the enclosed community, our countries teach us that there is something odd, exotic; if not inside the borders, there will always be outlandish kinds somewhere.
“Exotic” is one of the words I despise the most. A child of the Nineteenth century, it condensates racism, superiority, snobbism, and pleasure for ignorance. This is not to say that those of you who use the word intend to be offensive or derogatory. I stopped using it some years ago. It left a sour flavor on my dry tongue, after pronouncing it. A lot of people have been bored to death by me trying to have a conversation about it. Words are important and I tend to choose them wisely (therefore I talk and write slowly). “Exotic” is like the hourglass or the chandelier: aristocratic and outdated. However, it serves the purpose of making cute, or despicable, or barbarian (another of those words…) what in reality is right, wrong, or simply natural.
Quitting the use of exotic should teach us the reverse, i.e. to realize that differences are inherent in human societies. And that there is no “exotic” way to cook a meal, to choose a dress, or to love somebody. It’s all natural, because it comes with humankind. Artificial and made-up are social constraints and customs. Our eyes betray us. Probably a color-blind (gender-blind, class-blind) society will never exist unless we carve our eyebulbs out. Or we can begin cleaning up our dictionary from such words. Words are made-up too, therefore we can craft them to accompany us towards a natural society, free of inequalities.