How to Maintain Cultural Identity

Written by susan lundman
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How to Maintain Cultural Identity
Get in touch with your culture through music and the arts. (Black guitar player image by MAXFX from

Humans are complex creatures, whose identities include gender, religion, race, age, geographical orientation and ethnic or cultural identification. In fact, many Americans are currently living multicultural lives in the 21st century. The Asia Society asserts that by the middle of the century, there will not be a single racial majority in America. Maintaining your cultural identity and values in a changing and multicultural world requires both awareness and effort.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Books
  • Ethnic foods

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  1. 1

    Ask your family members about your culture and past generations of your family. Or, conduct your own genealogical search about your relatives using Internet or hard-copy resources.

  2. 2

    Listen to radio shows, watch TV and read newspapers, novels and stories about your culture. Explore both older, classic titles for novels and short stories as well as works by contemporary authors.

  3. 3

    Explore your culture by visiting online sites. Learn about the history of your culture and issues confronting people in modern times.

  4. 4

    Attend concerts, art shows, powwows or dramatic performances, both traditional and contemporary. Learn about cultural art forms both as a participant and as an observer to deepen your knowledge even further.

  5. 5

    List the values, beliefs and ideas present in your culture and then list how you think those values developed. The Educational Alliance suggests doing this exercise on your own and then sharing it with others in order to deepen your understanding of your culture.

  6. 6

    Add another column to your list of values to explore how your current values conflict with an ancient or traditional value. For instance, The Educational Alliance notes that arranged marriages were common in certain cultures to ensure economic benefits for both families, whereas younger generations want to marry for love.

  7. 7

    Draw a picture of yourself that expresses your cultural identity. Explain the picture to friends and family in order to clarify your thoughts and feelings.

  1. 1

    Cook foods from your cultural heritage. Copy recipes from restaurants and shop in ethnic markets for traditional ingredients.

  2. 2

    Practice traditions and celebrate holidays from your culture. If you are African-American, celebrate Kwanzaa to learn about African traditions. If you are of Chinese descent, celebrate Chinese New Year.

  3. 3

    Meet new people who share your culture. Join a political, sports or cultural association, such as a Mahjong group or the Latino Action Network.

  4. 4

    Take action for a cultural cause. Write letters to your Congressional representative about banning culturally offensive mascots on sports' teams or removing confederate flags from State buildings.

  5. 5

    Talk to children's groups such as school classes or Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops to educate them about your culture. Go one step further and serve as a mentor for a child who shares your cultural identity.

Tips and warnings

  • Cindy Chang, Honors candidate at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of "Creating a Cultural Identity," reminds her readers that the more you can bring a multicultural perspective into your life, the more fully and meaningful your life will become.
  • Chang warns adoptive parents that overemphasising the birth culture of their child may "create confusion" in the mind of the child and could be just as damaging as ignoring the birth culture.

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