Diversity - Part 3

 In the following pages I will be exploring what I have learned about diversity - Diversity introduction. I will delve into how I came to understand diversity, and then discuss my own culture as it relates to diversity. I will discuss the trend in the United States as it pertains to the population and what challenges we face as a nation. Our acceptance of diversity is influenced by the media outlets be it news or entertainment. What will it take for us to work together to reduce prejudice and increased appreciation for diversity? Though I will only scratch the surface as you read on it may provoke thought, and bring to light new ideas for you to ponder.

Understanding Diversity My current employment is in law enforcement which thrusts me into the so called “melting pot” of society. Part of the law enforcement academy we are taught about cultural diversity and how to relate to the numerous culture that we will come in contact with throughout our careers. To keep my law enforcement certification I must partake in diversity training once every four years. The basic message that I received from my diversity training is acceptance of all people. I was trained to keep an open mind and cast aside any preconceived notion that I may have picked up in life.

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We are forbidden to discriminate in our profession. In my personal life I do not practice, because of the fact I do not want my children to grow up thinking that type of behavior is acceptable. My Culture Though you could not tell from my last name I am from Italian descent. During my early childhood I was raised in an Italian community. Until age twelve I had sporadic interactions with my Italian heritage, I say sporadic because at age four I was placed into the foster care system in Massachusetts until age twelve. I could visit my biological family on the weekends in which I was immersed in the Italian lifestyle.

Of course from what I remembered it was all about family and a tight knit community. During this course and after reading chapter five of “Racial and Ethnic Groups”, I learned that the Italians were not always liked. Apparently the Italian’s were not treated well in the United States when they emigrated from the homeland. “From the beginning Italian Americans played prominent roles during the American Revolution and the early days of the republic. Mass immigration began in the 1880s, peaking in the first 20 years of the twentieth century, when Italians accounted for one-fourth of European immigration.

For example, in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, Italian Americans established special ties with the Black community because both groups were marginalized in Southern society. Gradually, Italian Americans became White and enjoyed all the privileges that came with it. Today, it would be inconceivable to imagine that Italian Americans of New Orleans would reach out to the African American community as their natural allies on social and political issues (Schaefer, 2012). This behavior appears to be typical on those that immigrated to the United States.

The one issue that Italian’s are still dealing with is the preconceived notion that Italian’s are all linked to criminal activity. “While as a group Italian Americans are firmly a part of Middle America, they frequently continue to be associated with crime. The fact that Italians often are characterized as criminal, even in the mass media, is another example of what we have called respectable bigotry toward White ethnics. The persistence of linking Italians, or any other minority group, with crime probably is attributable to attempts to explain a problem by citing a single cause: the presence of perceived undesirables” (Schaefer, 2012).

United States Population 2050 Through research it appears that immigrants and those born from immigrants will be the majority of the United States population by 2050. You can see the trend now wherever you look; more and immigrants are moving in and working alongside you. Research from the Pew Research Center reports the following; “If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U. S. -born descendants, according to new projections developed by the Pew Research Center.

Of the 117 million people added to the population during this period due to the effect of new immigration, 67 million will be the immigrants themselves and 50 million will be their U. S. -born children or grandchildren. The Latino population, already the nation’s largest minority group, will triple in size and will account for most of the nation’s population growth from 2005 through 2050. Hispanics will make up 29% of the U. S. population in 2050, compared with 14% in 2005. The non-Hispanic white population will increase more slowly than other racial and ethnic groups; whites will become a minority (47%) by 2050” (Passel, 2008).

Besides the increase in the immigrant population the older generation or “elderly” population will also increase. “Between 2010 and 2050, the United States is projected to experience rapid growth in its older population. In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88. 5 million, more than double its projected population of 40. 2 million in 2010. The baby boomers are largely responsible for this increase in the older population, as they will begin crossing into this category in 2011” (Vincent, 2010).

What Challenges does the United States Face due to the Diversity of its People If we look at the previous section the biggest challenge I believe will be the language barrier. The Latino population will triple in size by 2050; this will make the necessity of our younger generation to learn the Spanish language. The Spanish culture will become mainstreamed into our society since they will be the majority. It may become difficult for the Whites to keep total control over the government as we may see an increase in the immigrant population being elected into office.

With the older population doubling in size the need for special programs will increase. More people may become dependent on the government for assistance as they get older. The social security system will have to be revamped or it will most likely disappear, which I think is projected to happen before I retire. Benefits of a Diverse Society As society becomes more diverse because of the influx of immigrants, I think the social boundaries will become blurry and less defined. I think races will not be as concrete, because I am sure of the increase in multi-racial marriages.

Though the races should not lose their identities, I believe the next few generations will be multi-racial, and not just bi-racial. This may cause people to become more acceptant of each other and breakdown those racial walls. If this were to occur these generations may see the “post-racial” society. With more diversity brings more culture to the United States. Here in Florida we are immersed in the Spanish culture, from architecture, language, cuisine, art, and population. I feel with the diversity it makes a more rounded society. With that we become more acceptances to change.

Fostering a Climate of Acceptance and Cultural Pluralism in the United States Cultural pluralism is defined as; “A condition in which many cultures coexist within a society and maintain their cultural differences; also called multiculturalism” (“Cultural pluralism,” 2012). How does our society embrace this, to me it is simple “Acceptance”. We as a society need to accept those races, cultures, ethnicities, and groups that live around us. To close them out is to only cause dissention amongst the people of the United States. What other way can we foster the climate needed?

First society needs to correct their behavior. The acts of bigotry, racism, discrimination, and hate need to cease. Society as a whole needs to start treating everyone as they wish to be treated. The United States needs to view themselves as Americans and not separate everyone into races. The thing that bothers me is that when races refer to themselves as “their race-Americans”. The biggest on is “African-Americans”, if we are going to foster a climate of acceptance then that needs to stop. I am not saying you need to lose your identity, but if you live here and are born here you are an American plain simple.

This leads into how society labels people. How the Media Perpetuates Stereotyping and Prejudice I feel the biggest media outlet that perpetuates stereotyping and prejudice is the entertainment media. There are scores of movies and television shows that cast certain races in roles that only enhance the negativity that is associated with a particular race. For example if you look at the majority of law enforcement related movies the director usually cast’s a White man as the cop and the Black or Hispanic man as the bad guy. Of course the “bad guys” are usually dressed in a stereotypical way.

Some of the television shows have the same practice. Take a look at my ethnicity, the Italian race. The entertainment world cast’s Italians as crooks, gangster’s, thugs, drunks, fouled mouth socialites, muscle heads, and partiers. “MTV’s successful reality show Jersey Shore, which seems to focus on drinking, hot tubbing, and brawling stars, did not help. Stereotypes and labeling do not go away and truth is no antidote” (P. Cohen 2010a; McGurn 2009) (Schaefer, 2012). The news media also perpetuates stereotypes and prejudice. A local case showcases how this happens.

The case is the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida. When the story first broke the shooter George Zimmerman was portrayed as a racist White-Hispanic. First I didn’t realize that the Hispanic culture had a subculture of Whites. The other issue was with the 911 recordings, which made it sound like Zimmerman shot Trayvon because of his skin color. Recently Mr. Zimmerman has put NBC on notice of a lawsuit because of the edited 911 tapes. “Florida neighborhoods watch volunteer George Zimmerman will imminently put NBC News on notice — legally — that doctoring tapes inaccurately has consequences.

Back when the news first broke that Zimmerman shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, one of the main bits of evidence that anti-Zimmerman commentators used to condemn the accused was the tape of Zimmerman’s 911 call leading up to the shooting. Usually, they would point to one line in particular: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black. ” There’s just one problem: that line, as it was played, didn’t exist. The call had been doctored by NBC News staffers — who were subsequently fired — seemingly to make Zimmerman sound racist.

This is what was actually said: Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about. Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic? Zimmerman: He looks black. The edit failed to include the key question that put Zimmerman’s mention of Martin’s race in context” (Holt, 2012). How do we fix this problem? How does the Media Help Foster Appreciation for Diversity Concerning the news media, I feel they need to stop contorting the news to boost their ratings.

Case in point the previous section mentions NBC had edited the 911 tapes from the Trayvon Martin shooting. By doing so it sensationalized the story to benefit NBC, yet it condemned the shooter. To help foster appreciation for diversity the news media needs to report the news not make the news. It may not be glorious and sell papers or boost ratings, but it will get the truth out. Be it news media or entertainment media these outlets need to glorify diversity and portray it in a positive way. Some of the shows I watch the media shows the acceptance of diversity.

In the show “Modern Family” there is a bi-racial marriage between a Hispanic female and a White elderly male. There is also a gay male couple with an adopted Hispanic female. Though it is not reality, it still shows how acceptance will lead us to a “post-racial” society. How might individuals and the United States work together to reduce prejudice and increase appreciation for diversity How can everyone work together to reduce prejudice and increase appreciation for diversity? The common theme throughout this paper is acceptance.

Individuals within the United States have to ban together and accept each other. To me it seems easy enough in theory, but in reality it will take education and time. A problem I see in this is that the majority of people are not willing to accept diversity are ignorant. They are ignorant because they are not educated and some do not have the want to learn about other cultures. As society progresses and the population changes the integration of cultural education increases which will assist in the reduction of prejudice and appreciation for diversity.

How might I change my own behavior to be more inclusive and pluralistic I do not feel the necessity to change my current behavior. I consider myself open to learn and understand all races and cultures. I still may not agree with the way of life for some cultures, but it will not preclude me from including them from being a part of our society. Even though I have served in the military and had to defend our country against threats, I do not hold that against the individuals of that society. I place the blame on the individuals that cause the threat.

I give everyone the benefit and treat them as I wish to be treated. I know there is a lot of hate in this world; I feel I do not need to contribute to that. In conclusion for our society become a “post-racial” one we need to rid ourselves of certain behaviors. We cannot harbor racism, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, or hate within our society. We must become educated in the culture that surrounds us. We must be open- minded to new cultural ways. The biggest of all we as a society need foster acceptance, and that will lead us in the right direction.

References

Schaefer, R. T. (2012). Racial and Ethics Groups (13th ed. ). : Merrill Prentice Hall. Cultural pluralism. (2012). In Dictionary. Retrieved from http://dictionary. reference. com Holt, M. (2012). George Zimmerman Suing NBC oner Edited 911 Tape. Retrieved from http://www. theblaze. com Vincent, G. K. (2010). The Next Four Decades the Older Population in the United States 2010-2050. Retrieved from http://www. census. gov Passel, J. (2008). US Population Projections: 2005-2050. Retrieved from http://www. pewsocialtrends. org

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