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Contemporary Diversity Issues Paper - Essay Example

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The prescriptive norms, rules, roles, and networks of a specific culture are a basic component of how that culture defines itself. These elements of a specific culture are particularly important, both for its overall place within a wider society and also for the members of that specific culture…
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Contemporary Diversity Issues Paper
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Download file to see previous pages Increasing numbers of people belong to both a dominant culture and also an ethnic minority that has often been seen as submissive or lower down the hierarchy of power than the other position holds. For example, an African-American MD or Professor holds a high-status position within society because of their education, job and socio-economic status, but still belong to a race that is generally discriminated against.
This type of duality may lead to a paradoxical sense of contradiction within the individuals involved. They "belong" to both cultures, but feel absolutely comfortable in none. An example of this is illustrated by John Edgar Wideman in Brothers and Keepers (Wideman, 1984). The book tells of Wideman, a Professor and award-winning writer and his relationship with his older brother who is in prison for murder. Wideman explores whether his brother is more "black" then he himself is, questioning whether worldly success removes an African-American from the culture that he was born into.
Issues related to gender, race, and economic class are also an element of questions of diversity. The at times uneasy relationship between those who seek equality of races and those who seek equality between the genders has caused conflict within both movement. For example, while the Civil Rights movement of the 1950's/1960's, whether the peaceful one organized by Martin Luther King or the more militant one as represented by Malcolm X sought equality for African-Americans, such equality often did not extend to the women involved in the movement. Thus women were often relegated to subservient roles such as making meals and tea for the men who were doing the "real" work of the movement (Crawford, 1993). There is an apparent contradiction and even hypocrisy within the role given to women by men who preached the virtues of egalitarian societies and equality between the races.
The striving toward or resistance of acculturation is another dynamic that often pulls apart ideas of diversity. As seen with Wideman, the ability of various individuals within traditionally under-represented racial minorities to succeed within a predominantly white society may be seen as acculturation. But such individuals are often rejected by the cultures from which they sprang, while never entirely accepted by the culture that they now, at least nominally, live within. Often those in the culture who have been left behind accuse the one who has "risen" socio-economically of "acting white" (McNamara, 2006) and perhaps even being a traitor to their race.
Such resistance to acculturation is problematic. It seems to suggest that to "be black" within this society is in fact to remain at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy. There is an element of despair and self-hatred redolent within such attitudes, but they are very prevalent within a number of minority communities. In contrast, some other racial cultures, such as Asian cultures, tend to embrace at least certain forms of acculturation. Thus the value placed on education by many Asian-Americans enables the children of first generation immigrants to rise out of the often poor circumstances into which they were born. This form of acculturation is not only accepted, but is actively encouraged. However, other forms of acculturation such as marrying outside the race tend to be much more frowned upon. Thus different patters of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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