Marianas Variety

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    Monday, July 16, 2018-4:33:07A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Recognizing diversity in the NMI

THIS short note is in response to Mr. Kevin Wolf’s speech about the “caste system” in the NMI.

Perhaps “caste” is too strong a word, for it essentially refers to the hundreds-of-years long socio-political stratum in India, where those from the “low class” are prohibited to access resources and achieve advancement. However, I do sympathize with Mr. Wolf’s feeling as a young man being called out by someone who was blinded by his own ignorance.

I grew up in a monolithic culture. And before I arrived in America as an undergraduate student, it never came to me that my ethnicity would be categorized as “minority.” After all, China has 25 percent of the world’s population, and this idea is simply funny. Today, I still do not like the word “minority” as it victimizes certain groups and assigns them a disadvantageous social label. It prevents these groups from being viewed as who they really are.

In the NMI today, diversity is already in place, and it challenges the conventional wisdom on the identity of the islands. This is in fact a global trend. Human mobility has made multiculturalism a common topic for many governments, and fortunately many have embraced it. I want to encourage students like Mr. Wolf to take pride of your own culture wherever you go. In the real world, you are evaluated based on your talent, not which village you are from.

For those who still hold inward protectionist thinking in the 21st century, I want to emphasize that culture is fluid, and will not be contained merely by a piece of land. In additional to land ownership, the community needs to develop long-term strategies to sustain the spirit and soul of the indigenous. And investing in education would be a good start.

YUNZI ZHANG
Capital Hill, Saipan