Cultural differences should be celebrated

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2012

America is known as a melting pot, and perhaps nowhere outside of New York exemplifies this notion more than South Louisiana.

In a place typically known to outsiders for its French ancestry, the influences of a myriad of cultures have come together to form traditions that are only found here. Today, the entire nation is wearing green and pretending to be Irish, but the Irish played a significant role in the history of New Orleans, and a section of the city, the Irish Channel, is even named for them.

This weekend, those of Italian descent are celebrating their heritage by visiting St. Joseph’s Altars, which can be found throughout the area (see story on page 3A).

Much of the River Region is alternately known as the German Coast, and German settlers, although their names were Francofied by those who controlled the region at the time, are the ones who established long lasting settlements along the banks of the Mississippi River in what are now known as the River Parishes.

And one cannot forget the contributions of those of African descent, to whom we owe many of the region’s culinary, artistic and musical traditions.

Recently, another wave of immigrants, those from Mexico and countries in Central and South America have come to the region to help rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They, of course, have brought their own unique cultures and traditions with them.

All too often, when people focus on the differences between people, they do so in a negative light. We must realize that our differences are to be celebrated, for they have all come together to create this gumbo we call home.