LEVERAGING BICULTURAL PRIVILEGE
Calling all generation 1.5 kids who had the privilege of being born in a developing* country and growing up in Europe or North America. Navigating multiple cultures through the communities we’ve lived in across countries and continents make us an interesting bunch with potential to make informed change. Some of us have the passport privilege to breeze through customs (maybe even to opt for special treatment because our Uncle is friend’s with the the head of security or by giving a few bucks). Some of us can also go ‘back home’ for vacation, escaping from the stress that our adoptive homes give us (and our parents) in exchange for the privilege of mobility that we enjoy. Now calling the thoughtful many of this group: how de we leverage this?
Side note —Re: Developing
The way development is still understood in our dominant discourse (news, politics, etc.) is very much anchored in Western norms. I believe development should be focused on the socio-economic improvement of nations based on their cultural contexts and how they chose to engage in global relationships. This means developing sectors of the economy that are sustainable while being mindful of the local economy’s health such that imports that satiate the desire for variety don’t price out national merchants. Competition is inevitable, but it’s not cute when it ruins your currency. From a spatial development perspective, designs, plans and materials should also be localized, accounting for weather and behaviour. Traditional wisdom supports sustainable and accessible pathways to development.
Some of us have witnessed and experienced moments where our relatives would take advantage of someone’s travels to acquire certain things. As young adults, supporting our counterparts in their hustle by bringing them certain tools is one small way to pour into the equity cup. Starting businesses, partnering with and employing locals is another. But what I wonder is how do some of us shift the perspective whereby we see back home as a viable option to actually be home rather than a temporary retreat? As mentioned, change should be contextualized. At a personal level, this first means the need to re-evaluate certain comforts and expectations. What we don’t want is to reproduce saviour behaviour that we call out when it it wielded by white people. Best practices are not the best everywhere.
The street smarts that some of us have developed in spaces that are (un)favourable to us must be complemented with healthy humility as we navigate through and advocate for our multiple homes. All systems appear one way, but their theoretic accuracy are put in question and can vary depending on who engages with it. I obviously have no answers but multiple examples of possibilities based on how they represent themselves, rarely knowing the how. There are few forums of exchange where people of similar ancestry can share their thoughts and experiences on bringing the gap between their cultural identities (shoutout to Omek).
I’ll make a promise to you now dear reader; I will look for cases where bicultural people and communities are working towards sustainable initiatives to mold thoughtful ways of living that considers their entire being. Watch and engage with this space.