Unresolved Underrepresentation

By Rachel Houng


When walking down Jericho Turnpike, it is easy to spot Chinese, Indian, Italian and Greek (just to name a few) restaurants all located on the same road. With so many unique cultures and cuisines just a drive away, it is easy to see how many diverse communities influence our own home. Even on roads five minutes away, students have the ability to experience many different customs. As “the land of the free,” America has always been considered a country with its gates wide open for immigrants. This allowed for the unique cultural identity of America to develop.


With immigrants creating a profound impact on the development of our nation, why is it that some holidays are ignored? Students and staff deserve the opportunity to celebrate a part of the culture that has helped form the cultural identity of America. Whether an avid supporter of the melting pot or salad bowl theory, one thing can be agreed upon; these cultures have become an integral part of America.


Keeping in mind how important the unique cultures that exist in every neighborhood are to the identity of America, there is not much representation of these cultures. Based on the demographic of a neighborhood, members of the community should have the ability to celebrate holidays without having to worry about missed work that needs to be completed.


New Hyde Park staff had to come into work on Eid al-Fitr while students had off. These staff members would have spent time in their classrooms or offices discussing various educational topics, while their families were happily seated at the table eating together.


Additionally, Gladiators are required to come into school during Hanukkah. Although Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, Gladiators should be given time to at least celebrate a holiday meaningful to their culture.


Despite the numerous communities in NHP that utilize the lunar calendar, Gladiators are still expected to go to school on Lunar New Year. Many families celebrate this holiday in different ways. Daily life can often get in the way of the opportunity to spend time with family, allowing students to have the day off would provide a way to preserve their culture.


Source from Henry Kang and Laurence Lai

Despite not having Lunar New Year off, NHP students still celebrate the holiday at home by eating traditional food and spending time with their families.


While some may argue that the large variety of cultures makes it impossible to account for every single holiday that exists, the blatant ignorance of these holidays in society is hurting the ideals that America was founded upon. Specifically, the first amendment provides the right to freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly. If the first amendment of the Constitution calls for the right to religion, an essential part of culture, then the different cultures around the world should be acknowledged.


It may simply be that there is not enough representation of these diverse cultures in America that people feel as though there is no need to celebrate these holidays. Although movies have included some form of representation of differing cultures, it is necessary to understand the importance of these cultures. Mixed reactions to the representation makes it imperative to understand key parts of each culture.


Recently, “Encanto” has attempted to incorporate elements of Colombian culture into their movies through the use of clothes and food. However, these elements may not suffice as only food and clothes were represented.


“I think ‘Encanto’ is a great movie expressing kindness and loyalty, showing that no matter what happens, family comes first; just because you don’t have talent, it doesn’t mean you don’t matter. On the side of Colombian culture, all they really do is show Colombian food, the flag colors, and some speaking,” seventh-grader Samantha Rojas said.


As diverse cultures came together to formulate the cultural identity of the United States of America, it is imperative to play your part to at least become more culturally aware of holidays and their importance to the cultures that celebrate them.