The last weeks before the elections have caused tensions across the country. Although Biden’s election brought some relief, there are still many deep-rooted concerns about the nature of systemic issues such as xenophobia, racism and nationalism.
A YouTuber, Damon Dominique, tackles this notion in videos about how other places in the world are responding to progressive ideas. As an American from Indiana who now lives in Paris, France, Dominique shared his experience of returning to the United States and feeling culture shock – despite growing up there.
In the United States, it is not uncommon to meet people of mixed origins; American history is based on immigration and the idea that the United States is a “melting pot”. However, once people are able to travel, it is often an eye-opening experience; the United States is not as aware or culturally diverse as those in its own cultural bubble think.
“Americans have all these useless identities for themselves that reinforce … the perception of the United States as a whole,” Dominique said in her latest video about America in the election. “If people would open their minds a bit, then maybe they’d realize that their country isn’t all that.”
Dominique is the co-founder of a company called Shut Up And Go with Jo Franco, another Brazilian traveling YouTuber who emigrated to the United States when she was young. When they became friends, they began to travel the world together, exposing people to customs and adventures that people shouldn’t expect.
“You don’t have to wait until retirement to do what you want. If you want to travel, save some money and go. Shut up and go,” Dominique said in another video.
Although they have a common channel, they also have their own channels. While Franco focuses on the more adventurous travel experiences, Dominique showcases her life in Paris and searches for places that have a classic balance of progressiveness, human connection, and aesthetics.
One of his documentaries features the Netherlands and focuses on generally taboo subjects in the United States, such as sex, drugs, weed, gay rights and atheism. The Netherlands is ranked as one of the most tolerant and happiest places in the world, so Dominique went to find out the mindset of its citizens and how they thought Americans should approach certain topics.
“You are told at a young age that it is wrong, but once you grow up you realize that it is only one voice telling you. There are hundreds more who will tell you it’s true,” one of his friends said in the video. They were talking about sex.
Dominique is explicit on his channel about his homosexuality and even goes far enough to share some of the experiences he has had while traveling.
“It’s 2020, but not everyone in the world accepts my sexuality. There are still people who see it as an evil act. I try to find those places like the Netherlands and Berlin where their approach of life is entirely avant-garde.
There are a few ideas that Dominique likes to discuss in her videos when it comes to aesthetic lifestyle. He lives sustainably – bicycling through Paris and saving nearly every piece of clothing or furniture in his apartment – but however modern his ideas for relationships or travel may be, he draws inspiration from a rustic style, respecting the history and the places before him.
Every time he goes to a new place, even if it’s a German restaurant on the side of the highway or a random hotel in France, he makes an effort to understand the importance of Her presence. He strikes up conversations with strangers and isn’t afraid to ask tough questions.
With her bold actions and her determined search to discover a culture that accepts all ideas, Dominique questions her own place of birth and what it really means to call a place “home”. Constantly, he says he experiences culture shock when he returns to the United States because ideas stagnate compared to other places.
Even so, with such a global audience, Dominique is reinventing a more tolerant mindset through her videos and Instagram influence – focusing not on the latest fashion trends or perfection, but on the little moments of life – the true value of life.
“Society – not just America – has everything [these] inventive concepts of time, success and happiness when in reality there are bigger goals for ourselves. If we could just learn to co-exist with each other then maybe we could get somewhere,” Dominique said on an Instagram post.
For Dominique, standards of living don’t include a busy life, a work-for-success mindset, or even the “American Dream.” He just wants to enjoy what he can, live for himself and enjoy the company of others.
As the year draws to a close and a new presidency begins, Dominique will push the boundaries of what is considered uncomfortable in America, challenging the status quo and what it means to be a figure of multiple cultures.
“Once you open your mind to a possibility, you can’t see it any other way. The United States has a lot of work to do to empathize with diverse voices and mindsets.