Diversity (an academic paper).

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My college Ethics class asked us to write a paper about diversity, prejudice, and discrimination within my community, and it is the first paper that I have received a perfect score on. Since I don't have any work posted yet, I figured what the heck? So I've decided to post it. (The formatting of the essay isn't going to be proper because of how I had to paste it, but it works).

Submitted: November 28, 2009

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Submitted: November 28, 2009

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For the longest time people have turned a blind-eye to race, discrimination, and prejudice within their own community. Perhaps they don't care or maybe they want to pretend that it does not exist because it is such a controversial issue. No matter what the reasons are for ignoring such an issue, it continues to be an ever-growing problem. Even with the existence of prejudice and discrimination, the problem has become relatively better. People of different ethnic backgrounds continue to fight for their rights and equality among their community. In a community such as mine, even those with different ethnic backgrounds should be treated equally because not one person is meant to be alike to another. If it were not for this class and this assignment, I probably never would have looked into the issues concerning race within my community.

I always pictured my community as friendly and accepting; however, my research has opened my eyes to a different perspective and an all together different community. The best opening for a paper such as this is to start off with a personal story on one of my experiences with race and discrimination. The majorities of the teenagers within my community are Caucasian and attend the same high school. As we transition from middle school into high school, the people with whom we associate change. Being that the majority of our community is Caucasian, someone of a different race or ethnicity always stood out. As I grew to know the group of people that I was associating myself with, it was obvious that their attitudes on people who "looked" different from them were negative. A girl by the name of Ping moved into our community from China and immediately gained the attention of almost everyone within the school. Some people were cruel and made fun of her because she was different. Some people were genuinely inquisitive about where she came from and what her reasons were for leaving China. I have learned that with some ethnicities, people automatically expect them to be smart and successful–the same went for Ping. She was very focused academically and received high grades; therefore, people always expected that from her, and while that is not exactly negative, I'm sure it pressured her into thinking she always had to achieve high scores.

I never asked her how it made her feel, but her expressions were not always joyful over the reactions of others. After a month, the hype over her attending our school died down; however, the discrimination never did. While I do not know the details, Ping ended up transferring out of our school. I remember thinking that it was incredibly sad because throughout the few months that Ping attended our school, I befriended her and found her to be a fascinating person. That story only goes to show the dramatic affects discrimination and prejudice can have over a person. Discrimination was enough to drive a new student from her school, imagine what it could be doing to someone else? I continuously asked myself this question as I researched for this paper; however, not every case was similar. Aside from my own experiences, I interviewed a community member about his experiences within the community in regard to race. His name is Danny, him and his family moved to our neighborhood five years ago from Peru and have built their lives in this community. Danny has restored hope that perhaps things aren't that bad. When he was asked if people within this community looked like him, he revealed that not everyone looks like him for the majority of our community is Caucasian and only about 3.5% are Hispanic like him.

Coming into contact with organizational leaders and other leaders of this community is not an easy thing to accomplish for they are very busy; however, Danny's perspective on them is that they treat minorities with the same respect that they treat others. He stated that he cannot know for sure because he does not come into every day contact with them, but he believes that everyone is treated equally. Danny is correct when he states that "this community is very united, everyone knows everyone else which keeps it closer together. It is for the most part a very friendly environment regardless of the way you look," however, there are language barriers when people speak to Danny or anyone of his ethnicity. Danny speaks fluent English, but on some occasions, people have spoken to him as though he did not understand what they were saying. While many people would be offended by this, Danny looks at it from a different perspective, "I try not to take it personally and think that maybe this behavior might be attributed to the person’s own experience when dealing with someone like me; perhaps he was engaged in a situation where he tried to communicate with a Hispanic/Latino person and he/she could not comprehend due to the fact that he/she did not speak English."

In regard to the language barrier topic, according to Melanie Dabovich, a writer for the Star Ledger, a local newspaper organization; the owner of a local hotel tells his "Hispanic workers to change names" (Dabovich, 2009), and "orders them to speak English" (Dabovich, 2009). Dabovich explains throughout her report that the hotel owner orders them to speak English out of fear that they would be speaking ill of him in Spanish. Another employee reported saying that the owner's actions were done out of plain ignorance because he did not see anything wrong with his actions. While this was not Danny's exact experience, it is obvious that the language barrier could cause more problems than one originally thought; however, this is why there are programs placed within our schools to help other language-speaking students to learn English. Despite the government’s and the school's efforts, the programs aren't perfect and are often seen as a waste of time. When Danny was questioned about any inequities that he would want resolved, his answer was the ESL (English Second Language) programs within schools. His experience with the ESL was not exactly a successful one for he stated "I can honestly say that I did not learn a thing there."

Not only was the program inadequate in helping him with English, he believes that it will be nearly impossible for anyone who comes into this country to learn English if the program is flawed. Although there are some language barriers, there are things in place to help make the barrier smaller such as manuals, books, and newspapers, which are written in both English and Spanish. Danny specified that the library has a rich amount of information available to Hispanics and other language-speaking people about their cultures as well as written in their language. Although there are books and resources available at the library about Hispanic and other cultural current events, I personally do not think that the media covers them as well as they should; however, I'm not the only one who thinks that way. Danny agrees that the media does not cover cultural news as well as they should. He states that they do cover a little bit of news when it becomes available as well as bringing attention to Hispanic Heritage Month and other holidays celebrated by different cultures. Danny and I both agree that the media would be an excellent way to educate people about different cultures and ethnicities because the media reaches a large variety of people simultaneously. Despite the scarcity of the media, perhaps it is the community leaders who should organize different events to help educate people about Hispanics and the other cultures in the world.

Organizing a specific event would also help the minorities within our community make contact with the community leaders so that their voices could be heard. According to Danny, it's not that the community leaders are not willing to listen, but it is the fact that minority groups do not make their voices heard; therefore, their demands and wishes cannot be met because of the fact that no one knows exactly what it is they need. I think that is a very interesting point of view–as Danny said in the interview, "if minorities had a lot of requests and/or demands for the leaders of the community, they would hear us." If that's the case, what's stopping them? It makes me wonder if they are afraid to come forward due to discrimination or if perhaps the language barrier is too thick that even if they did voice what they want they would not be fully understood or seen as a joke. When pondering the question on what could be stopping them, the case of a South New Jersey mayor came into mind. Mayor Charles Tyson gave up his position as mayor due to discrimination and racism. Tyson was one of the few people with a culturally different background that raised his voice and tried to make a difference; however, he was worn down by racism and forced to leave because he couldn't deal with it anymore.

 Perhaps it is cases like Tyson's that make other minority groups afraid of coming forward and making their voices heard. As this paper is brought to an end, it is possible to see how prejudice and discrimination can affect the lives of those who are of a different ethnicity. My paper reflected my experiences with diversity and ethnicity, the opinions of Danny, a local community member who is a part of these "minority" groups, and the opinions stated in newspaper articles that reflect different opinions than those given by Danny. As it is stated in my introduction, not one person is meant to be alike to another and while there are barriers such as language, there are ways around them without having to disrespect and discriminate against the person's culture. We have also learned that education is a vital part in understanding and accepting the different ethnicities that may live within another’s community as well as in mine. It's been stated in various psychology books and other forms of writing that the one thing we, as humans, all have in common, no matter our ethnicity and lifestyle, is that we all seek acceptance and understanding from those who are around us. The more we learn, the better we can understand, communicate and help minorities with voicing their wants, needs, and desires so that one's community can truly be united.

References

Dabovich, M. (2009, October 26). Hotel owner tells Hispanic workers to change names, orders them to speak English. Retrieved November 19, 2009, from http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200991026008

Morlock, J., & Araiza, K. (2009, January 7). N.J. Mayor Steps Down Claiming Racism. Retrieved November 19, 2009, from http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local- beat/NJ-Mayor-Steps-Down-Claiming-Racism.html

My third source was Danny Maldonado, the person I interviewed for this particular project.


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