Comments motivated this post. One of the most consistent feedback I get from readers is my tendency to generalize. Often I don’t even realize I generalized. One question is does “generalizing” get in the way of my message? Another question is does this kind of feedback reflect cultural indifference?
My culture is Jamaican-American. We tend to be quick and loud talkers. Hearing our conversation from a distance, people unfamiliar with the culture incorrectly assume we’re arguing, but that is a regular passionate discussion. Further, if you listen carefully, you will hear many generalizations.
I grew up in a culture where we communicated in generalities. When I talk with family, we understand each other despite speaking in generalities. You see it’s a given that not every white person is racist or hate black people. Does common sense need to be prefaced? We understand our communication style and so do not get caught in what I term semantics.
Cultures communicate differently. To appreciate each other, shouldn’t we embrace our different communication styles?
A 2008 survey showed almost 50% of whites believed blacks had achieved racial equality as opposed to 11% of blacks. Nearly 75% of blacks thought racism was still a significant problem as opposed to about a third of whites. That highlights a cultural difference in perception about the existence of racism.
Does generalizing get in the way of the message? For a culture that wants assimilation yes it does. For a culture that is unwilling to embrace other cultures yes it does. For a culture that is indifferent yes it does.
Going forward, I welcome more feedback. Presume unless I say 100% I don’t mean everyone. We learn from each other by communicating. Lack of communication is what divides us so let’s be flexible and use common sense when we communicate.
What is more important in communication? Understanding the culture and message of the communicator or making sure the communicator assimilates to the prevailing values and standards.
With that said, I recognize there will be a price to pay for my communication style.
My intent is to increase awareness and get readers thinking about issues surrounding culture and social justice.