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Culturally Diverse: Race In My Community

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Culturally Diverse: Race in my Community

Race in my Community


Race in my Community


Growing up I was never so immersed in cultural diversity. My community was a white community. Until I made my first of many moves, to a townhouse when I was 8, there I saw my first members of color. Still though that was limited; it wasn't until I moved to Arlington when I was 18 did I truly appreciate that there were many peoples of different race, skin color, culture, religion, language, and ethnicity. All my experiences and opinions on cultural diversity are derived from my time living in Arlington. For me it was like moving to another country. The culture shock was great. I knew that not everyone was the same but I had never lived among people who did not share my customs, culture, religion, skin color, or race.

In the United States the majority may be White Americans; however, in my community I feel we are in the minority. My estimates for Arlington County's population are 80% illegal Hispanic immigrants, 15% African Americans, and 5% Whites. According to the US Census bureau's 2004 poll, though, the percentages do not match up. They show Whites are 63.5%, Hispanics 17.1%, and African Americans 9.1%. (US Census Bureau 2004) I find these numbers hard to believe being a member in the community. The census bureau would not be able to get an accurate account do to the illegal population of Hispanics that enter our community every day. By asking myself and others in the community these key questions I offer a more personal and accurate view of race in my community.

Do members of your community look like you? In what ways do they look the same or different? There are some members of my community who look like me share my race, religion and culture; however there are those who do not. Some are different races and different skin tones. Many do not speak the same language as me. Still others do not have the same religious beliefs. I would say the majority of them do not share my race, color, religion, or culture. Even still there are basic similarities. For example they breathe, bleed, live and die just as I do. They have children, work, and have two arms, two legs, one head, and one heart just the same as I do, so one could say that the basic human qualities, which are most important, are the same for everyone.

I asked my brother and mother to answer these same questions I had to answer in a survey form. In my brother's response to this question he states: "Yes they look like me 'cause they are

Human, only difference is their skin color." (Robert Knott, personal communication July 2006). When asked the same question my mother's response was: "Some do some don't. Some are white and overweight or handicapped like me. Some are dark skinned and speak other languages." (Sharon Canas, personal communication, July 2006). As you can see by their responses we share similar ideas.

How do leaders within your community treat people who are like you? How do they treat people who are different? This is a difficult question to answer, for leaders in my community generally treat everyone poorly. However if we examine programs to aid people and the work environment then the picture becomes more clear. I would say that programs are definitely geared more to the minority populations such as Spanish Americans and African Americans. Programs are there for White Americans as well, however in my view there is a preferential status. For example, I am in the Arlington View program, where I receive assistance in job search, development and employment security.

Through this program, I have a job developer that helps me to build skills and experience so that I can get a paying job. One of the processes to do this is through a program called CWEP, County Work Experience Program. The county places job seekers in six month volunteer assignments with non profit agencies, while they continue to look for work and build their skill sets while also gaining experience in the career path the job seeker has chosen. While in an appointment with my Job Developer, we were discussing possible CWEP placements. One that looked promising was a non profit organization called Just Neighbors. This agency provides immigration services for low income immigrants coming into this country who cannot afford regular attorney fees, they also help battered woman who come to this country with their husbands but have no means to leave their husbands and remain in this country.

While on the phone speaking with the head of this organization trying to place me with them, I was all but forgotten when my job developer realized that they would be a good resource for her Spanish clients who need such assistance. My needs for a job placement were completely forgotten because preference was shown to Spanish. Now I agree that they do need assistance, however, I also needed assistance. Discrimination can go both ways, though this was unintentional due to the fact that she was eager to help them avoid discrimination. I know there was no ill intent on her part. I use this only as an example of how the community is geared to helping out the minorities. At least program wise, my daughter's school is also very involved in aiding the Spanish community. They have programs to teach parent English. The school system also has a program called Spanish immersion; where students whose primary language is Spanish can learn half the day in their language and half the day in English.

Now when we take a look at the work conditions and salary, there is a complete 180. Due to the fact that most immigrants are here illegally and without proper documentation they do not get fair wages or adequate working conditions. They often receive way below minimum wage and work overtime without extra pay or benefits. Immigration can be found raiding establishments on a regular basis because they know that they are going to find illegal with no paperwork. This is all too common in fast food restaurants.

When this question was posed to my brother he stated: "They treat us all the same, unfairly." (Robert Knott, Personal Communication July 2006). My mother's response was "They treat people like me with a little less suspicion and more respect, whereas they treat the blacks, Spanish, and Africans, ext. suspiciously and less than human at times and as criminals." (Sharon Canas, personal communication, July 2006). Here I think my mother has a slightly cynical view but accurate none the less.

How do other members of your community treat



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