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Cultural column: Celeste Dominguez

October 27, 2017

Lily Guillen / The Courier

If there is anything I have learned from doing this column is that we all define “culture” differently. For some people, culture means one’s homeplace, by birth or by choice. For others, it means one’s community, religious, racial, or otherwise. For others, culture influences, and is influenced by, personal ethic. For Celeste Dominguez, it means all of those things and then some. I’ve known her since we were in Global Perspectives together, in a course titled “What is Justice?” To be honest, I had a feeling that her ethical stances were deeply ingrained even then, and asking her about it now was an exercise in understanding.

Celeste defines herself a lot by her ethical positioning. Which, of course, makes some sense. San Antonio, the city in which Celeste lives when she is not at Monmouth, is a rare liberal bastion in a state like Texas. However, it does exist within the context of, well, Texas. But beyond that, she was raised in the United States – a mash of cultures unto itself. This is a nation in which being light-skinned and Mexican may not make sense to others, but that is who Celeste is. It is a culture in which meat-eating is not just considered normal but often the default. Well, not for Celeste, who is a vegan for ethical reasons. It is a culture that is, in her words, “patriarchal, racist, sexist, hypersexualized, xenophobic, [and] carnist.” We live in a culture defined by our ethical choices, but also by our unethical ones.

This is where we get to the crux of who Celeste is: defined by the ethical choices she has made within the culture she lives in. She is light-skinned, multiracial, bisexual, feminist, Texan, vegan, pro-choice, anti-sexist, anti-racist, and pro, well, Celeste. The multitude of experiences that formed her ethical decisions and identities inform who she is within the culture she participates. This column could never capture exactly who anyone on campus is. Not in 400 words. Not in 700. But if there is one person who can adequately explain Celeste’s ethical journey to being Celeste, it’s Celeste. I am not saying that everyone must be just like her. I don’t think she was saying that everyone should, either. But my conversations with Celeste in class and for this column are always enlightening. It is a glimpse into the mind of someone who frames her very life, her culture, and her identity, around what she can do for a world that she lives in. Celeste is not just a citizen of Monmouth College, but a citizen of the world. And if you’d ask her, she would probably argue that we all are.

Anthony Adams
Political Editor

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