Cultural differences inform views of trust


Gaby Gonzalez, Staff Columnist

I often wonder – how much do our cultural background and values affect our daily interactions? How much of our inability to communicate effectively with others truly is due to our differences? I was raised in a Catholic, Cuban tradition. Family is held near and dear and anyone outside of family should be proceeded towards with caution – they are, for us, an “other.” People to be feared, people who can harm you, break your trust and abandon you. Family, I was taught, hold none of those characteristics. 

Throughout college, I have strayed from this tradition, in a sense. I have found friends that I’ve considered near and dear. Friends, which at times, I have found myself to see as family in their own ways. There have been friends who I can confide in, trust in, and be vulnerable with; just like with family. However, something that has remained constant, I have found, is both my and any friend’s inability to fully relate to and understand each other in a myriad of situations. As much as they may care about me and I about them, I think that we just, inherently, have been raised to the see the world with very different eyes. 

I have seen these differences expressed in two key ways: trust and consideration for others. Privacy, and subsequently trust, are pillars of the Hispanic family and the defining characteristics of the well-known image of the tight knit, extended Hispanic family. Trust gives us the confidence to rely on others and the assurance that that confidence is not misplaced. I have carried this ideation of trust into my friendships but I have found that many a friend – generally white friends, largely owing to Wake’s lack of diversity, which is an opinion for another article – do not share my view of trust. I am persuaded to think that the discrepancies in our understanding(s) of trust can, perhaps, be attributed to the absence of the aforementioned Hispanic family dynamic among white families/children. 

I have both seen and experienced the struggle of expressing views that align with my Hispanic background…”

Further, and without making too much of a generalization, I am inclined to believe that Hispanic children, or rather minority children in general, have been raised with an emphasis on the consideration of others in mind. And this, I find, is partly a result of minorities either always being at the service of the other (white people) or always being directed by orders from the other. Moreover, minorities have, empirically, been told how they should talk, think, act and what their place in society is. It is because of this that minorities are always implicitly acting with the consideration of others in mind. Additionally, when this is coupled with a strong upbringing in a Christian faith (which is overwhelmingly common in minority groups), one is even more disposed to acting this way. 

These differences become tantalizingly clear when conflict arises between a minority and a white person. Minorities have been taught that, even when wronged by the other, they are to submit to the white authority, or they will otherwise be deemed as intolerant. Minority voices struggle in all spaces – larger political and social arenas, but also in the private spaces within their communities. I have both seen and experienced the struggle of expressing views that align with my Hispanic background, but not with the white background, for fear of those views being diminished or disregarded. I have also witnessed what happens when a minority speaks up: they are often questioned, or doubted, more than their white counterparts. 

At worst, it seems as though the minority is being treated as someone that lacks competence; at best, the white will suggest that they just could not “understand” the minority. Even then, this inability to “understand” minorities is accompanied by the implication that one who is different than the white person cannot be as easily or intuitively understood. Thus, since minorities often internalize these actions, they are an additional contributing factor to their prioritization of the consideration of others across situations.