When we think of cultural unity, we often neglect the importance of our everyday interactions. We only look at the bigger picture and see the influential movements, and the powerful individuals that have fought to abolish cultural segregation. We rarely think about how vital our own role is in this movement towards equality. However, the stigmas and prejudices that we have in society–predominantly caused by a lack of understanding between cultures–creates barriers between parts of our community that stop us from truly understanding each other. These problems can only be resolved if everyone plays their part in demolishing these walls, and creating a more unified New Zealand.
Diversity is often thought to be the culprit of cultural segregation, however this is not the case. Diversity showcases the uniqueness within humanity and should be celebrated, not blamed for our societal issues. We stereotype and automatically form opinions about others because we fail to understand each other. Issues like social prejudice and stigma result primarily from a lack of awareness. These problems are extremely harmful as they lead to the exclusion of minority cultures, creating a society that is extremely judgmental and critical. We have become hostile to diversity under this negative societal pressure, thus we have ended up all striving to be the same. As a result, we have suppressed our individuality and lost a sense of connection with our cultural heritage.
However, there is still hope. As a part of society, it’s up to us to create the change that will break these negative social norms. If we all reach out to the people that we don’t usually identify with, or whose backgrounds we are unfamiliar with, we can contribute to raising society’s awareness and sensitivity towards different cultures. This helps break down the misconceptions of prejudice and leads to a society where we can embrace our identities without fear of judgement.
Written by Helen Wu
Edited by Wendy Lee