...my Indian colleagues could easily describe their culture, while I could not describe mine, except in terms of making money.
Most people of color have easily identifiable cultures. And most of those cultures involve being conquered by white men. White men, on the other hand, have only ever been conquered by other white men.
We white Americans left our culture in Europe, traded our religious and tribal cultures for a Middle Eastern variety, and perfected the worship of money. We have no real connection to the land, few blood ties, and we rattle around in our own heads with no real connection to humanity.
Our "culture" is far too young to really be called that because culture requires a connection to the world we live in.
Or perhaps ours is a culture of conquerers with nothing left to conquer.
We are absolutely swimming in American culture! Like I said, fish are unaware of the water they swim in. It starts right from birth: For the past 7 decades or so, most Americans are born in hospitals. Not so in MANY other cultures. Baby boys are generally circumcised, Jewish or not. They used to be mostly bottle-fed, but most are not these days. Their mothers usually take maternity leave for some months but the length of time has shrunk from forever to a few months. All of these are cultural norms.
Babies are often christened or baptized. They have God Parents. Their mothers had baby showers. All cultural norms, not present in most other cultures. Children have constant supervision. They start school at 5 or 6, and attend until they are 17 or 18. They have chores, but few jobs until they are teens, but usually have allowances. Used to be only the children of the rich attended college, but in the last few decades there has been a lot more inclusivity. Used to be the only way poor kids could attend was by scholarship, but student loans are now the norm.
Young people have several relationships, mostly with the opposite sex before marriage. 70 years ago, homosexuality was criminal in most places, but that has become a cultural norm mostly. When young people do marry, it is mostly for love (not arranged marriage), and most couples have children after a few years. Unmarried procreation was cultural anathema some decades past, but more accepted now.
Most Americans have a vaguely Christian heritage, though fewer and fewer attend regular services or claim a particular church membership. This is VERY different from many other cultures. Some Americans have a Jewish heritage, but again there are a very wide variety of Jewish traditions, from Orthodox to atheist.
Americans mostly have expectations their medical care will be through insurance, government programs for the poor, or self-financed. This is very different from most other cultures where either single-payer of no health care at all is expected.
American couples have a high divorce rate. They don't have mistresses, but do have secret affairs. There are certain expectations for child custody and child support.
Work has a whole set of cultural expectations and many of those have become legal requirements. The list is long.
Almost universally, we expect Medicare at 65, and Social Security at 62-70 and for the rest of your life. When we die, we expect funerals, caskets, embalming, burial in a cemetery, but lately more are choosing cremation. When people are cremated, relatives often keep their ashes displayed in an urn, or spread the ashes someplace the deceased specified or enjoyed.
All of these things are elements of contemporary American culture. Just to give you examples of differences from other cultures: Inuits put old people on sea ice to die. Indians almost all have arranged marriages. Hispanics are seldom circumcised. Yazidis put their dead on the roof so vultures can eat them.
We're flying electric helicopters on Mars yet you can't turn on your clothes dryer in Texas. That's because scientists are in charge of Mars, and Republicans are in charge of Texas.
Seems pretty anemic and un-inspirational. This is from Mellow's Navajo topic:
As Miss Navajo Nation I hope to strengthen our relationships between our youth and our elders. In an evolving world we need to take the time to listen to our elders and carry on our stories, our traditions, our language, and our culture for the livelihood of the Navajo Nation.
Mission Statement In keeping with Navajo culture and tradition, the role of Miss Navajo Nation is to exemplify the essence and characters of First Woman, White Shell Woman, and Changing Woman and to display leadership as the Goodwill Ambassador. Miss Navajo represents womanhood and fulfills the role of “grandmother, mother, aunt, and sister” to the Navajo people and therefore she can speak as a leader, teacher, counselor, advisor and friend. In March 1999, the Branch Chiefs of the Navajo Government agreed that one of the fundamental principles of the Navajo Governmental should be the preservation of the Navajo culture. It shall be the mission of the Office of Miss Navajo Nation to encourage every Navajo to assist in the preservation of Navajo culture and Miss Navajo Nation will represent the importance of Navajo Women with respect and honor.
Purpose The purpose of the Office of Miss Navajo Nation is to assist Miss Navajo Nation with the scheduling of her itinerary, providing support services, chaperoning Miss Navajo Nation during travel, managing the administrative matters of the office and coordinating educational activities that include the history, tradition, and culture of the Navajo people.
Maybe you can help to suss out why one seems more like a culture than the other?
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete. R. Buckminster Fuller