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Race and Your Community, Research Paper Example

Pages: 7

Words: 2058

Research Paper

My mother always told me that all human beings are born into an abyss, a bowl-shaped cavern. The choices we make throughout life helps us to fill that emptiness. When we reach the end of our lives and begin another, our Maker examines the contents we have accumulated and uses that to determine whether we have led a good and fulfilling life or one reeking with stenches of poor choices and ultimate failure. My parents were of mixed blood. They were partly Native American mixed with the features of people from Trinidad. Like theirs, my skin pigment is dark and I have African American features.  But at a young age I realized that skin pigment is only what others see on our surface. Good people should judge each other based on our sense of right and wrong, on our achievements, and on our perceived intelligence. Except for an encapsulated few, the people of our country have cast off previous prejudices (Ong [Ed.], 2000). Most of us realize that these United States were created by all people working together to make this country the greatest place on Earth in which to live.

I am fortunate to reside in a southeastern cosmopolitan area. Like me, there are a few minorities in the community but admittedly, there are many more non-minorities. Figure 1, following this paragraph, is a representation of the residents who live in my locale (United States Census Bureau, 2010). The South has changed: Dixie has been vanquished and the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties pretty much got rid of the holdouts from the Old South. Industry has come to my region and people have relocated from other parts of the country. They have come for the jobs that businesses have to offer or because of the milder winters. Regardless of race, we judge each other by our deeds and not by our skin color. I go to work each day knowing that my daughter and her friends will be safe from harm. When it comes to kids, certainly there may be some bullies, but that is true of every neighborhood where big kids taunt little children. It is not a major problem in the community in which I reside.

Figure 1

Figure 1

In my community I am treated with respect. I don’t believe that skin color is important to my neighbors.  Although minorities used to refer only to people of color, our community also has other minority groups. Sometimes skin color is the single most identifying factor. But regardless of skin color, people emigrate from other countries where, like in the United States, the dominant skin color is Caucasian. We have Poles, Italians, and some families from the United Kingdom. There are also a few Middle Eastern cultures that are part of our community. In recent years there has also been an increase in Asian cultures in the United States (Schaefer, 2006). Since my locale now has a high-tech corridor, these Asian minorities, like many other people who have come to the area, are seeking jobs. The one common thread with most immigrants is the knowledge that when they arrive in the United States, life will be difficult. There will be language barriers to overcome and the customs of different homelands may not be understood by all of our nation’s citizens. I don’t think that any immigrant group coming to the United States expects to start out in executive positions. They take what jobs they can find, usually menial, as housekeepers, kitchen help, and gardening. They send their children to school and a few years later following the assimilation process, they eventually find themselves seeking the same prosperity all citizens expect.

In my community group culture is not as important as are socioeconomic conditions. I have often heard it stated that immigrants come to the United States because they think our streets are lined with gold (Eyewitness to History, 2000). At one time this premise may have been true. But the recent downturn in our economy has made things tough for many families. Immigrants, especially those people with language barriers are having a difficult time. What is helpful to them is that many of them have families or friends who are already established; help is often available for the newcomers.

But in most communities there is another group.  They are not limited to race nor country of origin. They are simply the social misfits who don’t fit into any society. They are homeless, often by choice. They are receiving social services; they have never held a job for too long, or ever (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2007). There are not many of these people in my community, but there are a few. They are usually treated shabbily. People don’t want anything to do with them. I admit, I can understand how people in my own socioeconomic bracket can turn up their noses at these downtrodden souls. After all, the economy is tight and sometimes we have problems paying our own bills. Yet, the social services provided to the homeless, often jobless folks, come from our own hard earned income.

I am fortunate to be employed in a responsible position by one of the largest health care insurance providers in the country. There is no written material which distinguishes any one minority group, nor is there any staff training which suggests that any group should be treated differently from any other group. However, my employer has become keenly aware that our customers reside in different regions of the United States. Within these different regions we may have customers of different ethnic backgrounds and different native languages. When our representatives visit different geographic areas, in order to accommodate these different groups, we are fully capable of providing insurance instructions in the major languages. We have speakers of English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese. We also have an outsourced provider who can, on short notice, provide us with speakers of 15 other languages different from those already mentioned. Our desire is to adequately serve all of our customers.

Once we have secured a customer, he/she is not lost because of language barriers. We have claims forms in all of the preceding languages as well as in any language not already mentioned. Like in the case of one-on-one assistance, we have representatives, either in our own organization or through our outsourced agency that can help individuals whose native tongue is something other than English.

People sometimes think that the job of local media is to provide news of current events. The real task of any local media organization is the same as that of any other industry: to make money. Like with any industry, local media is going to try to make a profit with the smallest possible capital outlay. In my community, and I suspect in most parts of the United States, media is usually provided in English or in Spanish. Certainly there are both television stations and newspapers that are written in languages other than English or Spanish. But these media outlets often provide information of a more general or wider distribution area. Unless it is major, events taking place in a local area are not discussed at all, or discussed in just a small paragraph. I think a reasonable comparison would be comparing any large, metropolitan newspaper to USA Today. The former reports local events while the latter reports events of national importance.

The leaders of the city in which I reside are mostly non-minority. Minority administrators are often hired to oversee departments which are supposed to provide services to all people. However, to administer their services, to oversee the proper functions of their departments, they still have to report to their non-minority supervisors. My experience has been that people often get lost in the shuffle; they become simply a number instead of a name. The same can probably be said for individuals who are non-minorities, but in our region minorities usually experience the greatest difficulties. The area in which I reside is combined with two other cities to create our state’s high-tech corridor. In addition, the region is home to the state university, which is composed of both minority and non-minority students. One might ask, “Why then are there disparities in the help provided to any single group of citizens?”

I believe there are a couple of reasons for this disparity in the services provided. First, the individuals who are in political power are, for the most part, more mature citizens. From a family member I once heard the comment, “If you don’t have the dexterity for becoming successful through hard work, you should become a public servant” (exact author unknown). This statement may also be true in other parts of our country, but it is especially true in the city in which I live. Our politicians keep our city successfully operating, but at a minimal level of efficiency. Second, the city was incorporated in 1792, an era in which only non-minorities had any say whatsoever in the way things were run. The growth of industry is rather new in our region (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010) and historically, successful industrialists have been non-minority. In years to come minorities may have a greater role in operating my city, but for now, minorities have to bite the proverbial bullet and be happy with whichever successes they can identify.

I live in condominium housing. Although my comments on this topic are not racial in nature, I am in favor of changing the way our building is managed. Typical condominiums elect a Board of Directors, member residents who basically volunteer to provide harmonious living for all of the building’s residents. Sometimes, as is the case in our building, the Homeowners’ Governing Board, realizing that they have other interests such as their own occupations, hire a management concern to oversee the management directives determined by the elected board. There are two problems that often come with condominium ownership. First the board elected by the residents is sometimes very opinionated. They create rules for everybody to follow, even though the rules they created were based simply on their individual beliefs about their own living conditions. Second, the management agency they hire often has no interpersonal relationship with the other residents they are hired to manage. As an example, let’s say the elected board decides that all units need to be painted at the expense of the individual owners. They determine this painting should take place in the next 30 days. The management company oversees this rule and individual owners who may be experiencing temporary financial difficulty have no one to speak with about their compliance. The painting will be done in the pre-determined timeframe or a lien will be placed on the owner’s property. Although I am not sure how this can best be handled, I know the present procedure is just not in the best interests of all of the condominium owners.

Throughout our textbook, Schaefer (2006), describes Asians as facing the same prejudices once faced by most other minorities. Elsewhere in this paper I said that minority prejudices are dwindling; the people of the United States recognize that all of us need to work together toward national goals. Separating people by skin color or other characteristics only pulls down our nation as a whole. Just the same, the human species tends to blame others when things don’t go well for certain individuals. Whole nations face rebellion because one group wants something different from what the rest of society perceives to be in their best interest. Here in the United States we fought a similar war because of differences among Americans regarding the topic of slavery. Although prejudice against specific groups of people may occasionally rear its ugly head, I am still a firm believer that given the appropriate cooling-off periods, all of us will persist as a single people, a single group known only as Americans!

References

Studies Eyewitness to History. (2000). Immigration in the early 1900s. eyewitnesstohistory.com

Ong, P. (Ed.) (2000). Transforming race relations. Los Angeles, CA: LEAP Asian Pacific American Public Policy Institute and UCLA Asian American Center.

Schaefer, R. (2006). Racial and ethnic groups. (10th ed.) NY: Prentice-Hall United States Census Bureau, 2010. www.census.gov/

S. Conference of Mayors. (2007). A status report on hunger and homelessness in America’s cities.

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