Diversity in the United States Essay

We are brought up to believe that America is and has always been a nation of opportunity, home of the brave, and the land of the free. But anyone with a basic understanding of American history is aware that this is not the case. The first settlers had to fight be gain a foothold in this country and then their freedom from Britain. African Americans then had to fight for their freedom from the bondages of slavery. Minorities as a whole had to fight for the opportunity to seek out opportunity.

Some may argue this was a long time ago, however minorities are in school the glass ceiling is cracking, and white Americans are no longer the majority of the population. You still cannot forget that the fight for civil rights and equality for all races was only about forty years ago. While many things have changed some things are still the same. As Americans if we hope to keep improving diversity and increasing ethnic pluralism in our communities it is imperative that we understand and identify the weaknesses and strengths of the current social climate.

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I’ve learned that diversity in the United States has been working to get stronger through programs to give minorities a fair chance to stand on equal ground with those who have better educational and work opportunities, such as affirmative action programs. At first I thought that these programs were just for African Americans. As I’ve gained a better understanding of these programs I now know that they apply to all minorities and women. This is a good thing because for a long time educational opportunities were limited or minorities. And for those who earned their spots in higher education they were few and isolated on a campus. And afterwards it was a struggle to find gainful employment, let alone be able to work in a diverse workplace. Now with it being mandated by most higher learning institutions and workplaces more minorities are in school and working. Those who came from not so great schools and weren’t given proper instructions are not given the opportunity to go to college and possibly strive with a proper education.

With that it is hard not to be able to foster a diverse community at a school or job where instead of someone being on the outskirts or having feelings of tokenism, there are many so people can feel more comfortable and be able to more easily relate to all of those around. Next, the landscape of the American population is changing and will continue to change into a more diverse nation. According to the Pew Research Center in 2005 67% of the nation’s population was white. In 2012 the white population is just under 50%.

By the year 2050 the projected population will be around 47%. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education account the cause to the number of young adults being ethnic minorities. While a large chunk of white Americans that were in the majority being old and going into retirement years. There is also going to be a boost in foreign born Americans from 12% to 19% in 2050. With this immigration number increase the number of ethnic minorities will have to increase.

While the white population is being said to decrease and the African American population is said to remain almost constant all other racial groups are supposed to be boosted. Some like the Hispanic community is said to even double from 14% to 29%. This is a good thing for the American community as it will bring diversity right to your door step. Because there will not be a race that is the majority, opportunities for diversity will become more accessible and commonplace.

Diversity in the United States is a good thing, but as seen with the evolution of technology there was bound to be some difficulties in transition. In the earlier paragraph I discussed the benefits of affirmative action programs. This has been used as a weapon to cut the ties that were once used to hold women and minorities down and prevent them for pursing their opportunities as Americans. But as the country becomes more diverse it is starting to be seen as more of a double edged sword and there can be arguments on both sides of it helping or hurting the United States.

According to The “U. S. Top Court Justices Challenge University Race Policy” website, there is currently a case in front of the United States Supreme Court from a student who was passed over by admissions at the University of Texas in favor of African American and Hispanics students whose credentials were worse than hers. She sued the school and now that case has made its way up to the highest court where justice Sotomayor summed the issue presented to them as this “When do we stop deferring to the university’s judgment that (considering) race is still necessary”.

The university maintains that they need the flexibility to build a “critical mass “of underrepresented minorities. The problem here being that the university has no way of measuring what “critical mass” is, and therefore cannot judge where the cut off should be. As diversity increases minorities are getting a chance to get better educations. And if the line can’t be seen where the community is diverse enough that a social equilibrium can be found when, does it go from helping out some races and giving them a fair shot, to taking away opportunities from one race because of the color of their skin.

The media has also been a double edged sword in terms of its portrayal of minorities since the creation of mass media. You can look at examples where the beginning of African Americans in movies was negative. In the book “Images That Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media” the author talks about birth of a nation which black people are portrayed as either lazy and simple or as a savage. We have come a long way since then but you can still see instances of negative aspects of minority cultures being shown.

As in classic ghetto centric films of the 90’s like Boyz In The Hood and Menace II Society where African Americans are portrayed as gangsters and drug dealers. If that isn’t recent enough you can go to recently cancelled crime drama The Chicago Code where Hispanic men are portrayed as gangsters using outdated slang consistent with their stereotypes, or the BET show The Game a football based comedy/drama which consists of a mostly black cast and deal with issues of illegitimate children, the black man as a “dog” narrative, and competition against each other forcing them to tear each other down to ucceed. Still there are shows like Modern Family which does promote diversity and togetherness by showcasing the traditional family in different forms in homosexual and interracial couples. Another example is the comedy community which has a cast of all races, gender, ages, and religious backgrounds. To promote diversity more shows should follow that example of a fully diverse cast. Even when shows showcase different races it is normally a case of tokenism. There will be a majority of one race than one or two of a different one.

If the media wants to get past stereotyping and foster an appreciation for diversity it will need shows to not have the illusion of diversity and actually make them diverse If the United States is going to change the climate to reduce and eradicate prejudice and continue to foster an environment of acceptance and diversity the solution is simple, we have to live together. How are we supposed to gain an understanding and a relationship with the other races that share this country if we stay in communities that are mostly made of our own ethnic groups?

You can’t. Julie Ajinkya of the Center of American Progress states that the “racial threat effect”, which is essentially a fear of other races, can be diminished and eliminated by contact theory where different races live and work in close proximity to each other. She also uses Lee County in Texas as an example of contact theory in effect as its population of different ethnicities mirrors that of the entire United States but on a smaller and more concentrated scale.

Starting off as a mostly German town the large increases in the Hispanic and other communities and their determination for acceptance gained them an equal footing in their community. Now residents report on not seeing color anymore and how it doesn’t matter. In conclusion, diversity is a part of the United States and will continue to grow and it is the obligation of every single person in these boarders to try to understand our neighbors no matter who they are, who they do or don’t pray to, what their gender or preference is, or the color of their skin.

References

Ajinkya, J. (). Center For American Progress. Retrieved from http://www. americanprogress. org/issues/race/news/2011/07/27/9939/what-diversi ty-teaches-us/ Lester, P. M. , & Ross, S. D. (2003). Images That Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media . : Greenwood Publishing Group. Passel, J. (). Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www. pewhispanic. org/2008/02/11/us- population-projections-2005-2050/ Policy Alert. (). Retrieved from http://www. highereducation. org/reports/pa_decline/decline- f1. shtml U. S. top court justices challenge university race policy. (). Retrieved from http://www. cnbc. com/id/49365316

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