Letter: Understand cultural differences before you judge

The Detroit News
Agustin Arbulu

Take the time to learn about cultural differences before passing judgment

As the Latino daughter Jonathan Oosting wrote about in the Aug. 9 article “Investigator: Civil rights director called own daughter ‘hot’," I am shocked that you would not try to reach out to me to get my perspective before publishing your article.

I am the daughter of a Peruvian man. I am also a mom.

Had you talked to me and asked me for my opinion, I would have told you that our culture and our community is very different from what you are used to. There are extreme differences in language in tone and in what is acceptable or not. That is the very reason why I am proud of my dad leading his department and why we need to have this conversation.

That does not excuse The Detroit News in failing to reach out to me or in considering the choices of language it used in the headline and the impact it has on me personally.

While our choice of words can be taken out of context, especially if you lack the ability to understand and appreciate the culture and background of others, my father’s actions do speak louder than words.

It was my dad, Agustin Arbulu, who led the fight for the people of Flint, to hold hearings and make sure those affected by the water crisis will have access to assistance for life — and I supported him then. It is my dad, Director Arbulu, who took a firm stand with the Benton Harbor schools, and I stand behind him now. It is my dad, who is standing now with people fighting for their civil rights in Grosse Pointe, where the school board closed our only Title One school. As an immigrant himself, my dad is fighting for your civil rights and for mine, throughout the state of Michigan. I am standing by my dad, just as all those others are.

I am not just a Latina. I am a mixture of cultures and races that represent who I am. To an average person without a rich cultural identity, my father’s words may have sounded inappropriate, but you must understand our various cultural idiosyncrasies. It is upon us all to better understand our cultural differences. While words matter, our actions matter more.

Sarah Arbulu, Grosse Pointe