Saturday, February 26, 2011
I'm a Californian
BYU is an interesting place in that there are people from all over the country (all over the world for that matter) that attend here. However, with all this "diversity" some tensions tend to arise as people criticize where others are from or impose stereotypes on people based on where they are from. As a Californian at BYU, I experience this all the time. Over the past four years, I have heard so many jabs about California and Californians that are somewhat true but mostly they are just plain ridiculous and mean-spirited. I'll admit that I used to have some preconceived notions of people based on where they are from, but I have been around long enough to know that most people don't fit into stereotypes and, therefore, should not be judged based on the state in which they grew up.
Some, however, have yet to figure this out. Just today, I heard a guy in my ward say that he hates Californians and that we are all a bunch of liberal, materialistic, Communist beach bums who don't have a clue. Of course, my California pride came out and I had to say something. The conversation went something like this:
(Let me preface this by saying that I have known many Idahoans and they are all great people. My grandparents are from there. My dad was born there. I've had four amazing roommates who are from there. Idaho just happened to be where this boy was from.)
Me: Now, where are you from again?
Me: Ah, so do you want me to judge you by the Idaho stereotype just like you are judging me by the California stereotype?
Him: What's the Idaho stereotype?
Me: Self-righteous, potato-farming bigots. I guess you're lucky I don't buy into stereotypes.
Maybe that was a little harsh but I felt he needed to come to grips with something. You can't judge an entire group of people based on a very vocal minority within that group. You can't judge an entire state by the actions of one or two cities within that state. You can't impose stereotypes on any group because most people don't fit within those parameters. And how would you feel if someone criticized the place you grew up all the time?
Why does this bug me so much? Well, I pretty much defy every stereotype about California known to man. I've never bleached my hair (I haven't even dyed my hair for that matter). I don't hang out at the beach all day. I am very conservative politically. I do not worship or really seek after material items. I really don't like shopping all that much (although I enjoy a new shirt, new jeans, a comfortable bed, and hard-back books as much as the next person). I think Communism is a REALLY BAD idea. I am the biggest fan of America's Founding Fathers and the Constitution you will ever meet.
Yes, there are crazy people in California but there are crazy people everywhere. Earthquakes occur often in California but natural disasters and man-made disasters happen everywhere. There are advantages and disadvantages no matter where you live.
I was born and raised in California in a suburb of San Francisco. No, it's not perfect by any means and I can't say that I enjoyed being with everyone I came in contact with. But I am a Californian and I am proud of it.