New York Culture
The spread of the American culture slowly engulfed the islands of the Bahamas. It seemed like the small town stores began to produce large-scale items, like the latest toy imported directly from Toys R Us manufacturers. This domination of larger cultures over smaller through media and cultural products plays part in cultural imperialism.
Jake, a former resident of the nearby Brooklyn borough, remembers the first time he saw a Hostess brand of food in the local market. He had never seen the wrapper with white writing before and was surprised by the texture of the filling. “I had never tasted something quite so…non-filling. Which is ironic.” Large commercial ships carrying the latest items, which were hardly ever seen on the island, became a frequent sight off of the land.
This assimilation of products and materialism became prominent in the main tourist areas where Jake grew up. In a song he wrote for class based on the new commercialization of the islands, I could tell how affected he was by the overwhelming changes from America. “We know they’re gonna take it, take it all away someday/Their point of view never saw what we had made that place/We built our home on a land bound to be swept away/Now we’ve left that place from a flash flood of legalities/Ten years we’ve spent in harmony/On an island without a care or much company/And now they’ve turned it upside down/We can’t imagine what it’d be like now/Like living underground with your head buried in the sand.” These lyrics give insight into the mind frame Jake was in while the major changes were happening around him. It also gives a piece of his own history once he moved to Florida for high school.
At the age of 15, Jake and his family relocated to South Florida for work. The push-pull theory indicates that “circumstances in the country of origin ‘push’ people out” due to “economic hardship, famine, war, or persecution”, while the “conditions of the country of destination ‘pull’ people toward particular locations” (107). In this case, the Gallagher family were pushed out of Andros and pulled into Florida because of economic conditions and the need for better education for the two children.
In Florida, Jake and Sasha had to transfer over their preconceived knowledge in the education system, while adjusting to the culture shock. As defined in Sorrells, culture shock is the “disorientation and discomfort sojourner experience from being in an unfamiliar environment”(108). Jake first witnessed a sense of culture shock when he attended a private high school for the first time for a tour of the campus. “I had never seen that many palm trees or that type of dress code.”