Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice

Paper Info
Page count 5
Word count 1441
Read time 6 min
Topic Sociology
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US

Although stereotyping may seem harmless to some on the surface level, it actually possesses substantial and detrimental issues to the subjects that are being generalized. While categorizing is an innate human tactic that is involved in survival, its use within social, cultural, and racial contexts is harmful. An issue related to diversity that I have personally faced is related to stereotyping. I have faced both cultural generalizations which were incorrect but not directly harmful and stereotyping that undermined, falsified, and antagonized certain aspects of my culture. Due to my Latin-Cuban background, I have faced a number of assumptions and generalizations that some believe to be related to Cuban culture, such as smoking cigars, gambling, and a friendly demeanor. However, the stereotypes which I find most harmful and have also experienced include associating things like illegal immigration, drug production, and crime with Cuban culture based on stereotypes.

Larger Picture

The diversity issues that are involved within stereotyping usually have to do with misinformation and the inability or lack of desire to learn more about other cultures. The process of categorization occurs naturally and essentially exists in order to discern hostile and non-hostile settings, people, or other factors. However, the application of the same process to something as complex and large as culture, racial groups, or communities only works to limit knowledge during interactions. Lacking interaction with diverse groups has led to stereotypes and conversations that were based on false or incomplete information. It is inherently detrimental to both parties, people that are being stereotyped are analyzed through false or generalized information while the opposing side creates judgments based on these falsities. As such, it becomes a problem of lacking knowledge of diverse groups with varied racial, cultural, or ethnic backgrounds.

When I am personally confronted with stereotypes about Cuban people and culture, I attempt to ask the people that make generalizations about their sources of such information. It can become quite easy to discuss the difference between generalizations and real traits of Cubans if the other party can engage in conversation. However, there are two issues with my approach. Firstly, I can not correct all instances of stereotyping that occurs nor is it my responsibility, as people must use critical thinking and research skills on their own. Second, while many incidents of stereotyping are non-malicious, some are and those individuals are usually less open to conversation. Personally, this causes me substantial stress and worry concerning both my safety and identity as a Latin-Cuban living in America. Due to the fact that most individuals are enthusiastic or compliant to learn from their mistaken assumptions, I feel that change is possible and racial stereotypes are likely to notice a stable decline as communities become more diversified.

As a person living outside my original culture and country, I face a number of issues due to my racial and cultural background. These include stereotyping, racism, and discrimination that I have personally faced since I have lived in America. This is an experience that is common to most if not all non-white Americans but is especially prevalent among individuals that have recently immigrated from their respective countries. Due to my background as someone who has lived in two very different cultures, negative or racially-discriminatory interactions were initially surprising. As such, my reactions are shaped by my dissatisfaction with false assumptions as they have the potential to be harmful to others. Immigrants and refugees are especially susceptible to hardships and systematic issues in the U.S., as both prejudiced groups and bureaucratic processes often oppose them. While I enjoy a number of privileges of living in the U.S., such as my education and living situation, both witnessing and experiencing racial discrimination have shaped my opinions on issues of diversity.

Prejudice

Prejudice is the first sociological concept that I would like to address in this paper. Prejudice is both a catalyst and a by-product of racial stereotyping and discrimination. It can be defined as unsubstantiated and preconceived opinions or perceptions of people on observed categorical differences (Fish & Syed 3). However, unlike less malicious though equally incorrect stereotyping, prejudice is always detrimental and built on false assumptions. It can and often does define the interactions communities and individuals have, oftentimes with hostile undertones. Negative stereotyping can build into widespread prejudice which then defines exchanges between social groups. This becomes especially problematic when one group has significantly more political, social, or cultural power over the other. This is often the case with minorities who face prejudice and have no methods of dissolving false prejudices. This also can begin to affect their professional status, economic welfare, and even safety and wellbeing.

Scapegoating

Stereotyping is also an inherent component of any form of scapegoat practice. This is potentially the most dangerous implementation of generalizations and has historically drastic consequences. The ability to combine individuals into one category of presumed negative traits allows them to be antagonized and blamed by a majority for issues that may not be related to them at all. Though there is a history of governments engaging in scapegoat tactics, the media is the current leader of fear-mongering and false conclusions concerning national issues, with racial minorities often being framed as a cause. Scapegoating, especially when it has a racial basis, has significant negative implications in the political and social sphere. Populism, when defined as a political movement prioritizing an ordinary majority, is an inherent component of scapegoating (Muller 29). Essentially, it elevates certain groups over others, which is innately anti-democracy oriented.

Assimilation

Another concept that relates to negative and harmful stereotyping is assimilation. While changing cultural, social, and political settings will require assimilation from newcomers, stereotyping suggests something more detrimental. Essentially, the portrayal of certain features and characteristics in a negative light is also a form of stereotyping that suggests that these qualities are undesirable. Such thinking then also suggests that full and comfortable assimilation can only be reached when a society becomes homogeneous (Hartmann et al. 337). In the case of racial assimilation, this would require minorities and immigrants to completely lose their cultural heritage, identity, and even language. This is not only inherently wrong but also unrealistic and unattainable. This form of assimilation disregards diversity and labels positive and negative stereotyped racial or cultural features, thereby becoming an innately biased approach.

Workplace Discrimination

The most harmful implementation of stereotyping is when it obstructs opportunities for racial minorities or puts them in direct harm of those propagating the generalizations. In the workplace, this issue may often manifest as a result of the halo effect and unconscious bias. Unconscious bias refers to the process in which assumptions are made regarding individuals based on exterior features such as their appearance, voice, or dress. Within the racial context, this may cause non-white individuals to be perceived in a way that is inaccurate by white employers. Similarly, the halo effect is a phenomenon in which a single positive feature causes an individual to begin associating a number of unrelated and unproven good qualities with that person. For instance, someone wearing a more formal outfit may be perceived as more work-ready without any substantial evidence. A non-diverse firm or hiring team is more likely to hire those that share their features and may associate other positive qualities with them without any real reason to do so. This can be seen in practice with the example of African Americans within the job market, who experienced disproportionately fewer networking opportunities, more wage disparities, and frequent hiring disadvantages (Wingfield & Chavez 2020). As such, stereotyping contributes to a much broader issue of discrimination not only in the professional world, but in education, politics, and other fields.

Current Policies and Strategies

Currently, a variety of workplace and general anti-discrimination policies exist to minimize such harmful processes. As early as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, racial discrimination was prohibited in a number of areas including workplaces. However, its effectiveness was not universal as employers may have continued to commit discriminatory acts without labeling them as such. It is the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act (2002) that is especially relevant as it allows employees to come forward with their experiences of racism or discrimination.

The issue of harmful stereotyping is based on historical notions and thoughts behaviors that are inaccurate and regressive. With my newly attained knowledge regarding the origins of racial assumptions, I believe that changes in education are necessary. Misinformation is the primary leader of stereotyping and accurate information should be provided when possible by larger and more influential institutions. Strategies that promote learning about differences in culture and race are inherently valuable to promoting a social setting that prioritizes progress and diversity.

References

Fish, J., & Syed, M. (2020). Racism, discrimination, and prejudice. In S. Hupp & J. Jewell (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of child and adolescent development (pp.1-12). Wiley.

Hartmann, D., Baiocchi, A., & Toguchi Swartz, T. (2018). Navigating Americanized identities: Bicultural ethnicity, race, and the incorporation experience. Race and Social Problems, 10(1), 332-347. Web.

Muller D. (2021). Journalism and the future of democracy. Palgrave Macmillan.

Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act (No FEAR) P.L. 107-174. (2002). Web.

Wingfield, A. H., & Chavez, K. (2020). Getting in, getting hired, getting sideways looks: Organizational hierarchy and perceptions of racial discrimination. American Sociological Review, 85(1). Web.

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NerdyBro. (2022, December 8). Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice. Retrieved from https://nerdybro.com/cultural-diversity-racism-discrimination-and-prejudice/

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NerdyBro. (2022, December 8). Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice. https://nerdybro.com/cultural-diversity-racism-discrimination-and-prejudice/

Work Cited

"Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice." NerdyBro, 8 Dec. 2022, nerdybro.com/cultural-diversity-racism-discrimination-and-prejudice/.

References

NerdyBro. (2022) 'Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice'. 8 December.

References

NerdyBro. 2022. "Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice." December 8, 2022. https://nerdybro.com/cultural-diversity-racism-discrimination-and-prejudice/.

1. NerdyBro. "Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice." December 8, 2022. https://nerdybro.com/cultural-diversity-racism-discrimination-and-prejudice/.


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NerdyBro. "Cultural Diversity: Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice." December 8, 2022. https://nerdybro.com/cultural-diversity-racism-discrimination-and-prejudice/.