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The Antelope

The Antelope

Heritage months celebrate country’s cultural diversity

Elliott Gonnella

Antelope staff

1. Lindsey Smith, a junior from Dakota Dunes, SD sets the ball up for teammate Mackenzie Pluckett, a sophomore from Grand Island

The term melting pot should aptly describe America: many cultures blending together to form one unique identity that is known simply as American.

That phrase seems nice in principal, though in reality we all know how flawed the melting pot is as it blends the cultures of America. You only need to turn on a TV, tune a radio or open the newspaper to see how divides still exist. Cultural divisions still run strong in the US, just as they have ever since the nation was founded. When we aren’t fighting some other nation, Americans have time to focus on someone else to kick around domestically.

Heritage months are month-wide celebrations for the contributions of Americans with a strong heritage background. These also tie in with History Months, most notably African-American History Month in February. September was National Hispanic Heritage Month.

So if America is supposed to be a single culture, why would we have months dedicated to an individual culture or race? If you look long enough on the internet, you will often see arguments about how this appeasement is a disservice to ‘real’ Americans and/or some New World Order conspiracy in disguise.

So why do we have them?

Since it is the start of October, let’s take a look at some of the month-long observances in October. We have German-American Heritage Month, Italian-American Heritage Month, the second half of Hispanic-American Heritage Month and Polish-American History Month. Each of those groups have one thing in common: they were at one point or another vilified on a pretty wide scale in America.

German-Americans felt this the hardest during both World Wars, to the point of having the word German and other German related words being replaced. Some examples of this are German Measles becoming Liberty Measles, Sauerkraut becoming Liberty Cabbage and streets named after German cities being renamed after English and French artists.

Italian-Americans faced severe backlash early on because of their Catholic beliefs.  Eras of films portraying organized crime as something unique to Italians did not improved their standing. Polish-Americans may not feel as much ostracism as other groups, but in Europe they are the favorite dog to kick around when a problem needs someone to blame. Hispanic-Americans have faced constant discrimination and, with the recent political dialogue, one could argue that it is increasing.

These are just the blended cultures that are celebrated in October. Every month, there is at least one ethnicity group that has dedicated (officially or not) that month to celebrating their history.  These heritage months and similar celebrations remind us of the contributions each culture brought to America. Our unique citizens and their respective cultures are among our greatest strengths. Each American citizen, from a new immigrant to a family who has lived here since colonial times, has a unique heritage and story that should be remembered and respected.

At the same time, the rivalries that are real or imagined carry over, along with a whole lot of misconceptions that hold us back from accepting our fellow citizens as residents of the same world in which we live. Your heritage is your own.  Claim it and remember the good and the bad found in your roots.

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