Ways an Immigrant can Deal with Discrimination
Discrimination can take different forms and no matter its nature, it is popular than you may think. It doesn’t matter if you have gone abroad to further your studies, to do business, or looking for greener pastures, at some point you’ll experience discrimination. Though your experience of discrimination can be fueled directly from bigotry, some cultural, spiritual or even language differences could play a key role.
In this day and age particularly with the current reality around American rhetoric, discrimination in their different phases and shapes are climbing. In fact, it’s almost becoming a norm. Can discrimination be stopped? the general view is yes. As President Obama, a son of a Kenyan immigrant and a white mother, who went on becoming the most important and likable President in the history of the United States, stated that people learn to hate, and so it could be unlearned. As an African immigrant in the US, it isn’t a matter of whether you’ll find yourself a getting discriminated at; it’s a matter of when, and how. Here are some ways to get ready:
Get Good with your English Language –
Great communication is one of the ways to interact with other people. However when you are in a foreign country, it can be challenging to learn a new language especially if you were not speaking English language at all in your home country. All you need is learn the basics first and then advance slowly with time. Start learning popular ways of greeting. A better way to achieve this is to enroll for online classes to familiarize yourself and improve on your language, and listen to radio. Those times you might have been spending watching TV can strategically be converted to a moment of learning English.
However, if you don’t have the opportunity to afford a training class (there are free classes by the way in many Cities and neighborhoods; check local libraries), with determination, you can self teach yourself online. But note that formal learning would not only help boost your speaking skill, but could equally help increase your chances of getting a well-paying job.
Mix and Mingle-
Every country has its own culture, and as an immigrant, you should have the interest to get to know how things are done, and at best, remain curious. Get to know what the indigenous people value most including business ethics, protocol, and food among others. Many folks are as curious about your ethnic background as well, so be friendly and offer to exchanges perspectives so you could learn from them.
Participate in Cultural Events
Taking part in cultural events can help you not only learn but also embrace the new culture. Participate in any cultural presentations and make your contributions. You can boast of any cultural ceremonies, foods and any other cultural practices. This will bring room for socialization while showcasing your culture and also learn other people’s culture. Thanksgiving isn’t as you know it in Africa, so what? Bake your own turkey anyway and invite people, or go out to enjoy others.
Accommodate Others –
When you go to a foreign country and maybe you happen to start a business or probably you are an employee, you should learn how to accommodate other people’s culture. If you are an entrepreneur and happen to hire employees who have cultural practices like religious holidays, or special prayers on specific occasions, do not be mean. Give them time for certain occasions to increase their job motivation. The same applies to employees who may have co-workers who have different cultural practices. Remember, America is a land of immigrants, and chances are that your parents or great parents were at a time like these new immigrants you are now to deal with. Just do it; even if it means being accommodating and friendly to the memory and honor of your past loved ones.
Fake it Until You Make it – Even if you do not love your neighbors’ culture, pretend for once you have an interest. Have lunch together and enjoy different types of foods. You will be appreciated even if you do it once.
Though you may learn a lot in a foreign country, never force yourself to do things to make others happy which are against your beliefs but rather express your feelings in a polite professional way. You may learn foreign languages but never force others to adapt to your culture. Implementing the above tips can help you feel at home away from home.
Have you ever traveled to a foreign country and faced discrimination? How did you go about it? Please feel free to share your experiences.
USAIG is a media organization that focuses on African immigrants in the United States. We offer community content and promote African identity. We support personal and professional development of Africans and immigrant community in the US. We consult on cultural based training focusing on inter-generational relationships between African youths, parents and community, and we facilitate diversity and inclusion training workshops.