My Cultural Autobiography

A person’s gender, race, and class significantly impact their life experiences. Historically, people used gender, race, and class to discriminate different portions of the population while favoring other parts. Males have had a dominant role historically, and they have used that role to oppress women, for example by denying women voting rights and the rights to inherit property. Race has also significantly affected the experiences that people have in life. For example, African Americans in the United States were enslaved for a very long time, and after the abolishment of slavery, segregation was imposed in some parts of the country. The historical injustice of discrimination of African Americans still affects the community to-date. Social class determines the people that one can socialize with in life. I am a Chinese male who comes from a middle-class family in China. Currently, I am an international student studying in the US. My gender, race, and class have significantly affected my life. The intersection of the three variables has granted me some advantages.

Growing up in China, I noticed earlier on in life that the older generation preferred boys to girls. I am the only boy in the family, and my other siblings are girls. Although my parents are fair people and have treated us all equally, the society that I grew up in thought that they were fortunate to have a boy. The favoring of male children over female children has had nasty side-effects.  Sex-selective abortion is one example of such an ugly side-effect. China became notorious in the past for the high-rates of termination of female fetuses. The high preference for boys, especially in rural China led spouses to use technology to determine the sex of their baby, and many have terminated pregnancies if they found their baby was a girl. The practice has been widely condemned and is on the decline.

Given the favoring of males over females in China, I have had a relatively comfortable life compared to girls. For example, when considering the career to pursue later in life, I was encouraged when I preferred an ambitious career while many girls are at times discouraged from selecting such careers just because of their gender. Entering into leadership positions would be easy for me as men have dominated in politics and leadership. Although things have been changing and women are now equal to men as per the law, there is still a long way to go in changing the cultural attitude of favoring males to females and getting a fair representation of all genders in different sectors. The cultural bias that has remained still affords men subtle advantages which disadvantage other genders.

The race variable did not matter that much when I lived in China but started to do when immigrated for studying purposes. In China, I lived among fellow Asians and thus was not subjected to discrimination or stereotypes. Although people from other races are not many in China, they face the challenge of racism. Many people in China are fair-minded and treat other people well. However, some people in the country negatively judge people from other races, and that makes life uncomfortable to racial minorities living in the country. China is currently focused on expanding its influence around the world and respect for other races and cultures is needed for the success of that project. The support for respect and embracing of different races and cultures by the government will help out in rooting out racism and prejudice.

It is in America that race became a big issue for me. There is constant discussion of race in the west. I have gotten different reactions from people because of my race. Many people have been nice to me and have been curious to know more about my culture. A few people have been rude to me mainly when engaged in a heated argument. All the people who have been rude to me were total strangers. All those who know me have been friendly and supportive. My experience supports the view that it is hard to stereotype when one has known and closely interacted with people from other races and cultures. I believe that the drive towards equality and social justice is partly responsible for the keen focus on race in the west. The war for equality and social justice has mostly been successful. Owing to the success, my experience, in general, has been good. I am thankful to all activists who have fought hard for the equality of all people.

Class has had the most impact on my life compared to the two other variables. Compared to gender and race, class nowadays is mainly gained through merit. People who work very hard and amass a lot of wealth join the upper-class. The middle class consists of people who are reasonable wealthy but not as wealthy as those in the upper class. Those in the lower class earn less income. I was born to a middle-class family in China. My family is reasonably wealthy, and that affords us a sheltered and comfortable existence. I can easily afford essential and luxurious commodities. I have had an excellent education. Interacting with people in the same class as my family has been easy as we live in the same area. I have in the past enjoyed vacations in amazing places. I am not much worried about my future as my family affords me good security.

The reason why class has had the most impact on my life is that flaunting one’s class is not considered to be offensive. Boasting about the superiority of one’s gender or race is insulting to other genders or races and provokes a lot of opposition. In the case of class, people comfortably talk about their social class. They buy commodities that show-case their social class. For example, those in the upper class may buy private jets to flaunt their wealth. As a child born to middle-class parents, I would observe the things that my peers owned, for example, toys and clothes and ask my parents to buy me such things. To-date, I find myself doing those things that will help me fit in with people in the middle-class. The race to fit in is exhausting and negatively affects those in the lower-class as many are envious of the luxurious lives lived by those in the higher social classes.

The intersection of my gender, race, and class gives advantages to me, especially back in my home country. It is easier for a person of my gender and race to enrol to technical and well-paying courses in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Being from a middle-class family provides me with the finances that I need to pursue such advanced courses. After completing education, it would be easy to land a job in the country as male Chinese do not face many genders and racially related challenges when looking for a job. My middle-class family is connected with well-placed people, and the connections can help me get a good job. It is unfortunate that some people have it easier in getting jobs due to their gender, race, and class while others have a hard time. In a fair world, qualifications should be the defining factor in the hiring process.

Despite my family at home being well-off, I am working at an American restaurant to earn my own money. Working in a restaurant has exposed me to the challenges that are faced by many people in the working class. One problem that I face is earning much less compared to higher ranking staff members in the business. People who rely solely on the job to pay their bills struggle a lot. Another challenge that I face is having to work for long hours. The second challenge is not unique to members of any class because people from all social classes work for long hours if their jobs demand the same. Class divisions emerge in my place of employment. Higher-ranking employees earn more, socialize with each other, and buy commodities that display the social class that they occupy. Lower-ranking employees earn less, mostly socialize with each other, and do not own many luxurious goods. The interaction between people in the different classes comes off as awkward at times while employees feel at ease when interacting with people they perceive to be at the same level.

In conclusion, gender, class, and race have advantaged me while growing up. The advantages that the three have afforded me are chances for pursuing further education and opportunities for landing a great job. Studying and analyzing the issues that arise from the intersection of different cultural variables is of great importance. Such study and analysis will help in the development of policies that will help prevent some people from gaining unfair advantages over others in life. Such policies will also help strengthen meritocracy. Now that I am aware of how the different variables benefit me at times, I will be keen on ensuring that I do not benefit unfairly because of the same. Such an effort will help in the fight against inequality.