Cultural Diversity in Human Services

Table of Content


Man is not born to be racist; rather, racism is learned. By its very nature, racism denies an individual their dignity and promotes hate and disunity. There is a very long history of political, economic and social injustice and discrimination in the United States and the world. Changes in societal views have been slow to change and often times moved in reverse, but there has been change nonetheless. Finding a way out of stereotypical racial discrimination is a personal endeavor. Implementing the Racial and Cultural Identity Model will help individuals to find their way past the damage to freedom of self. In the world of human services there are many policies, laws and codes of ethical standards that have been implemented to assist professionals in the field. These have been put in place to protect the human service worker as well as the client. There are organizations in most communities that are available to assist with diversity and education. Despite work toward change, racism is still an issue that needs to be addressed and it is vital to have education to help society to change.

Historical, Political, Social, Economic and Social Factors of Race

Racism has been a long lasting historical issue that affects millions of people throughout the world. At the time the article by Pearson, Dovidio, and Gaertner (2009) was written, there were more than four decades of documented racial struggles since the Civil Rights Act. This country was built on the ideals of justice and equality yet the traditions of racism and discrimination fueled by slavery prohibit those ideals (Pearson et al, 2009). While there has been a shift in White endorsement toward racism and discrimination, toward Blacks in particular, there are still struggles and disparities in medical treatment, wages, employment and education. Minorities are not given the same opportunities as their Caucasian counterparts when it comes to the above mentioned institutions.

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There are continued social, political and economic disparities experienced by African Americans and other minorities within the United States and the world at large. There are two major views of why these disparities still exist and how we can negate them. Pearson et al (2009) discuss the possibility that Whites have become aware of the social norms and biases and are less apt to express these views publicly; secondly, the views and biases are less conscious and direct making discrimination less noticeable. They noted that as a society we need to new

Perspectives in how to address present day racism and discrimination. It is unfortunate that while it could be dismissed as an issue that has been addressed and continues to be addressed, inequality of race continues. Politically, the attitude of white superiority still tends to rein. As slavery may be history, race still remains in a major factor. Political discrimination and inclusion as a right are spread throughout all minority groups despite laws and legislation to the contrary.

Developmental Models That Apply to Race, Racism and Racial Discrimination

The Racial and Cultural Identity Model is the relevant developmental identity model for the subject of race. There are five stages of growth development in this model to establish a clearer sense of their own identity. Schmidt (2006) discusses the Racial Cultural Identity Model to establish clearer individual identity. The first stage is conformity…, the second stage sees transformation…, Resistance and immersion mark the next stage…, the fourth stage is the introspective stage…, the final stage people are able to self-affirm and achieve a sense of independence and self-worth beyond racial identity (p. 80-81). To continue with this model, it is imperative to examine what can happen to individuals without this type of model addressed in their lives. Presseau, DeBlaere & Luu (2019) conducted a study on the affect discrimination can have on mental health of adopted (now) transracial adults. It was identified that parents can have impact on racial socialization, assimilation and integration. “Our findings indicated that indeed socialization served as a moderating, or buffering variable, in the discrimination-distress link, such that the relationship between discrimination and distress became nonsignificant at higher levels of racial socialization” (Presseau et al., 2019, p. 5). The importance of identifying self in regards to discrimination, racism and bias is limitless.

Relevant Laws and Programs Regarding Race

While it is unfortunate that in the world is full of discrimination toward race, ethnicity and class the human services and counseling profession has guidelines of ethical standards to safeguard against further harm. These ACA code guidelines and ethical principles protect the professional as well as the client in eight specific ways; the counseling relationship, confidentiality, professional responsibility, relationships with other professionals, evaluation/assessment/interpretation, teaching/training/supervision, research/publication, and resolving ethical issues (Schmidt, 2006). In respects to this research papers focus the code protects against discrimination practices against race, ethnic group and socioeconomic status. The Professional Standards Committee of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development is responsible for developing standards for awareness knowledge and skills in the counseling profession. These were developed to these competencies and standards become visible in personal and professional “attitudes, beliefs, understanding, and interventions” that are used within the counseling field.

It is without objection that the past has brought about and with it great change, good and bad. Immigration and citizenship legislation were pivotal to the inclusion and individualization of minorities. Some of these hindered as well as helped the progression of nondiscrimination in the United States. Unfortunately, there were and are more laws in history that were racially ignorant. For example, the Alien and Sedition Acts gave the president the power to deport foreign persons that may be considered a danger to the United States (Schmidt, 2006). When it comes to race, the real turn came when President Abraham Lincoln became the pioneer for civil rights and affirmative action. The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 gave slaves in rebel states their freedom. While this sounds monumental it came with it great barriers and exemptions. All in all, this was the beginning of a revolution for the African American community. This was followed closely by the ratification of the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 gave African Americans the right to participate in voting, politics and public accommodations. These were monumental in the backbone of history.

Inclusion of Race, Ethnicity and Class in Human Service Care

Slowly, race seems to be become less popular in the language used by governments at large. In the welfare and human services systems race, ethnicity and class are main areas of need. “Despite state attention to combating a basket of inequalities related to disability, gender, age, sexuality, religion and race/ethnicity, the last category has the greatest potential to endure and to form the basis of political division, while the others are more frequent sites of united struggle” (Williams, Johnson & Johnson, 2010, p. 3). Garrow (2014) also identifies race, ethnicity and low socioeconomic status as negative factors for receiving nonprofit funding as opposed to government funding (p. 381). The identification of the diverse populations as having difficulty in receiving nondiscriminatory treatment in the social services arena are long since recognized. “Scholars have noted that nonprofit human services that locate high-poverty areas may look toward government for support because fees for service or donations are available…because poverty and race are highly correlated, and spatial concentration of poverty is often accompanied by residential segregation by race” (Garrow, 2014, p. 381-382). There is a large disconnect in the welfare system when it comes to minorities and diverse populations. Education is necessary for the public to become more aware and grow out of these stigmas.

Local Resources to Help Diverse Communities

Hispanic American Organization-this organization represents the strong presence of the Spanish-speaking population. These organizations originally started as voluntary but have since become a tradition in larger communities. (Zaragosa, 1988, p. 96)

“The mission of the Hispanic American Organization is to improve the quality of life of Hispanic families by helping them become more economically self-sufficient through better health, education, communication and technology skills” (Hispanic American Organization, n.d.). They are located at 462 West Walnut St in Allentown, PA. They are available for multifaceted counseling, education, housing, wellness and drug and alcohol services. We work closely with this organization since the homeless community is predominantly Spanish speaking.

Neighborhood Health Centers-these centers became operational in 2004 for the uninsured and underinsured in the surrounding area. This organization was started by a group of concerned community residents and has since become state and federally funded as a community resource for health and wellness. ”The target population confronts obstacles to obtaining routine and preventive primary care services due to linguistic and transportation barriers and extreme poverty” (Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley, n.d.). According to their statistics, Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans as well as white citizens in the Lehigh Valley are the three top populations serviced. They have three locations one in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. We also utilize their services since they are a sister Center of Excellence.

Complement and Conflict of Personal Characteristics Toward Race

After reading the article by McIntosh (2003), I found that with being white came certain privileges and inclusions. Of the fifty conditions that were mentioned on the list; which includes traveling without expectation of embarrassment or hostility and feeling welcomed and “normal” in public life, they seem to be taken for granted. I understand that while I feel that all people should be treated equally, not everyone has that thought process. I also understand that every culture has differing views on each other. I found it very important to understand the differences and similarities of racial injustice, racial discrimination and racism. Matthew (2017) explained that not every instance of racial insensitivity and ignorance can be called racist (p. 885). I needed to learn the differences between these terms to truly understand my role and how I can help the clients. I cannot stand for a cause if I do not know what that cause is, that would only instigate the ignorance.


History has shown that race has been an identified area of discrimination, and even with legislature to propose change there are continued issues that need attention. Unfortunately discrimination is continuing to be taught to future generations. As professionals in the human services field, there is a responsibility to stand against discrimination toward diversity. Continued education and training within the human services field can help to promote change that can spread throughout society.


  1. Garrow, E. E. (2014). Does Race Matter in Government Funding of Nonprofit Human Service Organizations? The Interaction of Neighborhood Poverty and Race. Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, 24(2), 381–405. Retrieved from
  2. Hispanic American Organization. (n.d.) Retrieved from
  3. Matthew, D. C. 2017. “Racial Injustice, Racial Discrimination, and Racism: How Are They Related?” Social Theory & Practice 43 (4): 885. doi:10.5840/soctheorpract201711226. Retrieved from
  4. McIntosh, P. (2003). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. In S. Plous (Ed.), Understanding prejudice and discrimination (pp. 191-196). New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
  5. Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley. (n.d.) Retrieved from
  6. Pearson, A. R., Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2009). The nature of contemporary prejudice: Insights from aversive racism. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3(3), 314-338. Retrieved from
  7. Schmidt, J. (2006). Social and cultural foundations of counseling and human services: Multiple influences on self-concept development. Boston, MA: Pearson.
  8. Williams, C., Johnson, M. R. D., & Johnson, M. R. (2010). Race and ethnicity in a welfare society. Retrieved from
  9. Zaragosa Vargas. (1988). Hispanic American Voluntary Organizations Sylvia Alicia Gonzales. Journal of American Ethnic History, 7(2), 96. Retrieved from

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Cultural Diversity in Human Services. (2021, Aug 24). Retrieved from

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