There is no doubt that the world has evolved immensely in the last century. Even in the last decade there has been so many changes. Especially the humans and the amount of globalization in the world, humans have stretched across the plants. The United States has always been considered the cultural melting pot, although now when we look at many different countries in the world, these countries also show large diversity of different people. There can be found people who are African, Caucasian, Asian, there are even people who are biracial and come from so many different backgrounds. This is an example of how globalization has made the world evolve so we now see so many different people from different back grounds. Not only that but people with different ideals, such as gender identity and sexual orientation. Although being from a certain background comes with its story, it also can come with its hardships. If you are Colombian for example you will probably constantly deal with others thinking that you are somehow associated or related to Pablo Escobar. This is just one example of the many hardships one goes through with being associated to a certain group of people.
There is one group that has been in the news a lot especially in the United States that has had to deal with a lot of prejudice. These are African Americans. There have been a lot of protest that have dealt with the common sayings that “Black Lives Matter”. Although there are people who are racist that say “All lives Matter”. Overall, this prejudice is not just probably in the United States. Racism exist almost everywhere. This occurs in many countries where there is a high black population. In an article I read about Black lives in America, it states “race is a myth, racism is not” (Seymour). This article also states the reasons that it is hard to be black in America. One of the main reasons is because of black history in the United States. That is one of the main reasons is because of slavery and how long it took for the United States to overcome this. The article also explained that when President Obama took office (Who is also the United States first black president) many things would change and that there would be progress for black Americans. It is still very difficult to be black in America because even though there now are no laws of segregation black families live in part of a city, there children attend all attend a mostly black school. This happens with Caucasian families and also Hispanic and Latino families. Although as a mentioned there are not any laws in the United States that segregate, but African Americans prefer to avoid for example stereotypes and prejudice (Kaplan). These stereotypes happen not only in the United States but in many other countries. For example, being Black is very hard in many societies. If you are African there is more chance of there being stereotyped as someone who is a robber (Peck, 2018). Africans also get stereotyped constantly as drug dealers. This happened in an article I read from New York times. The stranger believes that the black kid in the phone booth had to be a drug dealer (Phillip). As a mentioned before this has a lot to do with slavery and since there was slavery in many of the countries with high numbers of Africans this has a lot to do with that. Since Slavery also lasted a while, it is very difficult to change these stereotypes and what people have thought in the past. The best way to change this is educating our future generations with different thoughts.
As explained above there are many Africans in many different countries. It is more challenging in many ways to be of African and also be Latino or Hispanic. The reason for this is because recently as well Latinos have also had their bad stereotypes and prejudice. For example, if you are African but are Colombian, Dominican, or even Mexican you will probably have more challenges in society, especially in societies who are dominantly Caucasian (Gamboa). The reason for this being what is associated with each group. Blacks are seen as somewhat dangerous in many societies and Latinos are seen for doing things that a very shammed upon in certain societies, such as drug trafficking, and legally immigrating. There have been many problems with prejudice for Latinos, especially in places that are predominantly Caucasian. For example, many Latinos have got in trouble for speaking Spanish in public (Gamboa). Many also get shammed for speaking it to their children. This is the reason why being black and Latino would come with a lot of adversities that would be difficult to overcome.
This topic of being Latino, and black would also have a lot of adversities when it comes to women. In this case women who are African and Latino. The reason for this is because women have always been treated as less in society. For example, in American society women were not allowed to vote until they finally passed the 19th amendment (Kaplan). This was way after white men could vote. Along with that women have been known to receive a much lower salary in many countries compared to men. Now if we look at the factor of being a woman and also having to face racism, these are adversities that are very difficult for one to face and many would believe that the person could lose for example job opportunities, or not feel as comfortable going to a certain place (Kaplan). These people could also feel that they are never given a chance because of these diversity factors. Considering my diversity factors and because I live in the United States, and we are slowly overcoming these things, I feel that I am unaffected. Although in someway we are all affected because every race and ethnicity have to do with segregation. This is because we as humans have not learned to be tolerant and inclusive. Even though a certain community such as my own does not mean fully try to segregate someone else from another community or background it still occurs.
Developmental Theory Models
The issue of cultural diversity, notably the identity of African Americans in the United States, relates to the racial identity development theory or Nigrescence Model (NT-0) by William Cross. Cross established a five-stage process of Black racial identity, namely pre-encounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment (cited by Worrell & McFarlane, 2017). In the first stage, pre-encounter, Cross hypothesized that African Americans were pro-White and anti-Black in orientation (Worrell & McFarlane, 2017). Notably, it is at this stage that African Americans would try to fit into the majority by adopting the latter’s practices, such as pursuing different careers and attending the same schools as the majority. This stage has been manifested in the United States, whereby African Americans act in ways that counter their value of being black, such as pursuing prominent careers and positions, as was the case with President Barack Obama.
The second stage of the Nigrescence model is encounter whereby the African Americans and Latinos confront discrimination and racism in the majority group. Notably, here, the minority encounter traumatic experiences that alter the views developed in the first stage. For example, an article in CBC news revealed an incident where two U.S.-born Latino women were detained for speaking Spanish in a convenience store (Gamboa, 2019). It is through such life experiences that African Americans and Latinos realize they are a misfit for the majority group in the country and change the perspective of their identity.
The second stage pushes people of cultural diversity to the third stage, immersion-emersion, where they begin to embrace their identity. As opined by Worrell and McFarlane (2017), it is at this stage that African Americans begin to be pro-Black and extremely anti-white. At this stage, the group may start rejecting things that are related to the majority race and take pride in their identity.
After immersion-emersion, the target cultural group proceeds to the internalization stage, which is characterized by a sense of resolution. At this stage, the African Americans may no longer be virulently anti-white. However, they retain the acceptance of their identity (Worrell & McFarlane, 2017). In the United States, for example, African Americans and Latinos have a sense of security in who they are and their position as minorities in the country. Also, it is through this resolution that the culturally diverse individuals begin to build their relationships and to interact with the majority.
The fifth stage of the model is the internalization-commitment phase, where activism for the minority race becomes a priority. As asserted by Cross, it is at this stage that African Americans begin to work actively in support of African American self-empowerment (cited by Worrell & McFarlane, 2017). Sometimes, this activism may also be supported by individuals in the majority group, as is the case in the United States today. For example, as noted, over the past few days, there have been ongoing protests advocating for black lives “Black Lives Matter.” These protests signify the internalization-commitment stage of the developmental model, whereby people of cultural diversity develop the urgency to participate in activism for people of color in the United States.
Relevant Laws and Programs
Despite the ongoing activism in the area of cultural diversity, a significant fraction of minority groups remain vulnerable to negative stereotyping and prejudice, which exposes them to mental health issues that are difficult to overcome, necessitating immediate support and care from human service professionals. Nonetheless, despite the urgency for attention among the minority groups, as evidenced by Thompson (2001), this population continue to encounter challenges in access to support and care due to the existence of a mental health system that is plagued by disparities. Notably, it is evident from the literature that despite mental health issues being prevalent among both Whites and African Americans, the latter have limited access to care and support, and in instances where the services are available, they tend to be of poor quality.
Some of the factors that have restricted and fostered access to support and care of human service professionals among different races, such as African Americans, are medical laws and requirements. For example, as of 2014, individuals in the United States were required to have insurance plans to access mental health services (“Health insurance”, n.d.). Four years earlier, in 2010, Obama had introduced the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that aimed to expand insurance coverage to millions of people, including African Americans with preexisting mental health conditions (Noonan, Velasco-Mondragon & Wagner, 2016). Nonetheless, some states in the country, such as Texas, are yet to embrace Medicaid expansion under ACA, which implies that the African American population in such states have limited access to care and support because they lack access to the required insurance plans. Consequently, this population has progressively faced the adversities of belonging to the black community and numerous difficulties in overcoming such challenges.
While approaching the issue of the medical laws from a multidisciplinary perspective, it can be seen that the ACA program has both helped and restricted access of minority races to care and support. On the one hand, the ACA has offered millions of African Americans an opportunity to receive services of human services professionals under affordable insurance plans. Conversely, the law has constrained access to services among individuals residing in areas where the program is yet to be incorporated in the system.
Despite the disparities in the system, there are several resources across the United States that people facing challenges associated with cultural diversities and other special needs can utilize, among them the County of Ventura Human Services Agency. Notably, the agency is located in Ventura, California, and it helps strengthen families, support self-sufficiency, and promote the well-being of individuals (“About human services agency”, n.d.). As noted, among the agency’s list of priorities is fostering the well-being of people living in California and other parts of the country, who can access their services through emails and telephone. Therefore, individuals from a diverse race, such as African Americans and Latinos who face difficulties in overcoming the challenges associated with minority groups, can seek help in the agency.
Additionally, individuals seeking special services associated with cultural diversity can also utilize resources in the Center for Human Services (CHS). The CHS operates as a non-profit organization that provides help to residents in Stanislaus, including offering treatment for mental health issues (“About us”, n.d.). As noted, African Americans and Latinos face challenges such as prejudice and negative stereotyping that significantly affect their mental health, especially if they lack the resilience to overcome such issues. Therefore, as people with special needs, such individuals can visit the CHS for help to overcome the highlighted challenges.
Impact of Personal Characteristics
Based on an assessment of my characteristics, biases, and prejudices of my family, I believe that all the mentioned traits will conflict with the cultural diversity issue by promoting tolerance and inclusivity of both minority and majority groups in the community. Notably, as a resident of the United States, I have gradually learned to be tolerant and inclusive of other people from diverse cultures. As the literature suggests, the act of tolerance in the context of cultural diversity entails an individual’s moral and political merit in a society under conditions of difference, importance, opposition, and power (Kamil, 2018). Under the condition of difference, tolerance implies that an individual can receive another value beyond their beliefs (Kamil, 2018). As such, my characteristic of being tolerant will conflict the issue of cultural diversity by accommodating the ideas of others in society, notably African Americans and Latinos, and avoiding negative stereotyping and prejudice.
Furthermore, the personal characteristic of inclusivity will also conflict with the highlighted cultural diversity issues that face African Americans and Latinos in the United States. As observed by Schachner (2019), the principles of equality and inclusion are the backbone of “overcoming racial and ethnic divides by promoting equality and positive contact, thereby reducing or preventing prejudice and discrimination by members of the cultural majority” (p.3). Therefore, the nature of being inclusive is likely to conflict with existing cultural diversity issues by promoting accommodation of the unique needs of individuals belonging to minority groups when dealing with them, developing positive contact with the individuals, and avoiding negative prejudice against them. Besides, my community has been making efforts to prevent segregation, which implies that cultural diversity will be overcome at both a personal and community level through inclusivity and tolerance towards others.
Becoming Culturally Competent
As a human service professional, my primary task in the selected cultural issue would be to identify my client’s needs and propose interventions that would help them overcome the challenges associated with their cultural diversity. However, this objective may not be fulfilled in scenarios where I fail to be culturally competent. As such, there would be need to take into account relevant elements such as self-awareness, knowledge, and skills to become a culturally competent human service professional.
As the literature suggests, one of the primary elements to becoming a culturally competent human service professional is embracing self-awareness. Carpenter (2016) argues that self-awareness is the ability to recognize “one’s own culture and identities, to appreciate another person’s identities” (p.18). In this context, self-awareness would entail understanding my cultural beliefs and values first, to become aware of the identities of the users of my services. Through self-awareness, I would be prepared to help people of cultural diversity to overcome challenges that face them while taking into consideration their own identities and values to avoid any cultural ramifications.
Apart from self-awareness, possession of skills would also be essential for me to become a culturally competent human service professional. As the literature suggests, expertise in the context of social works and human services involve the use of appropriate techniques and methodologies that reflect the professional’s comprehension of the role of culture in their practice (Carpenter, 2016). When dealing with people of cultural diversity, it may be challenging to apply the same interventions and methodologies in trying to help them overcome their challenges, even although they may belong to the same minority groups. Therefore, possessing skills would enable me to reflect on the user’s cultural beliefs and values, and adopt methodologies that would more likely result in positive outcomes to the clients.
Additionally, knowledge would be an essential element for me to become a culturally competent human service professional. As observed by Ortega and Faller, knowledge in a cross-cultural context entails having relevant information about a group’s history world-views, communications styles, commonly held beliefs, social structure, values, and behavioral characteristics (cited by Carpenter, 2016). When dealing with African Americans and Latinos, it would be essential to gain adequate knowledge about the group’s history and other unique aspects about the population, to develop a culturally competent practice.
Synthesis of information from the research ascertains that cultural diversity in the world, notably, the United States is subject to multiple adversities. Notably, individuals with different backgrounds, mainly African Americans and Latinos, face hardships, such as negative prejudice and stereotyping, in the hands of majority groups. The study also reveals that the issues of cultural diversity in the United States are a result of the historical factors, whereby African Americans have had a history of slavery in the country; thus, they are treated differently by the minority groups. The research also reveals that several resources have been established over the years, such as the Center for Human Services, to assists culturally diverse people in overcoming the culturally-related challenges in their daily lives. Also, it is established that when dealing with such a group, human service professionals must be culturally competent by having the essential knowledge about the target group, skills, and self-awareness, to develop interventions that result in positive outcomes to the clients.
“About human services agency” (n.d.). County of Ventura Human Services Agency. Retrieved from https://www.ventura.org/human-services-agency/about-human-services-agency/
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