Cultural diversity can be defined as a variability or divergence in the ways of life of different people that are living together (Neuling, 1999). Globally, The US has the highest rates of cultural diversities. These are black Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacifics, Hispanics and Immigrants from Europe among others.
This means that diverse groups have effectively merged and blended with each other. There is a misconception however, that all these foreign cultural groups only come to the US to make money. This is the main root cause of the cultural bias and stereotypes in the US (Cultural Diversity in the U.S., 2007).
There are several biases that individuals can experience as regards, religion, sexual or gender orientation, race, socio-economic status, disability status, or culture.
An example of a discrimination experienced on religion basis includes, an instance where a black worshipper visits a local church whose most members are whites. During this visit, no one bothers to offer a welcome sign or note to the black into the church. However, immediately a white person enters the church, ululations are made and the white is even offered tea after church.
This according to the blacks’ cultural background is disheartening and has a negative impact on the blacks because religion should make all people equal in all ways. That is, regardless of whether they are black, white, short, Muslim or Christian. Everyone should be allowed to worship in the house of God ( Nittle, 2010).
An example of a discrimination experienced on gender aspects includes being given minor jobs at the work place simply for being a female student. The gentlemen are trusted with tasks that require hard labor or hard thinking. This is unfair for the ladies as they will never have a say in the society.
This is a show that the ladies’ roles are subordinate as opposed to managerial. Appreciating that what man can do, women can equally do, is the first step to realizing gender equality in the society (Chow and Crawford, 2004). An example of a discrimination experienced on race includes, being commanded to reduce the radio’s volume in the hostel simply because of being a black American student.
On the other hand, the white students are allowed to play loud music in the hostels. The cultural background possibly impacts this experience by appreciating that different people treat race differently and so it’s better to try and accommodate races that are different from one’s race. Having high expectations for life no matter the level of discrimination also matters to a great extent. High expectations lifts people’s self esteem (Taylor., et al, 1998).
An example of a discrimination experienced on disability status is experienced in a job interview where the disabled miss out on important job opportunities simply because they cannot move around in the offices. This is unfair because disability is not inability. Even the disabled have great minds and so limiting their capabilities is hindering national and individual progress.
An example of a discrimination experienced on socio-economic status, is a case where as a poor student, one is subjected to thorough frisking by the security guards in restaurants and clubs. This is due to the perception that the poor people live in the ghettos where the crime rate is higher than urban areas. The rich on the other hand are received with a warm smile and minimum frisking, if any. It is not right to judge people by their status as not all people belonging to the same group behave in the same manner.
An example of an instance of contact with people of diverse cultures is living in the same room with a person of a different culture. A white and black student have different values as far as the food, religious affiliations, the dressing, communication styles, the religion, among others are concerned. These diversities could make living together difficult. For instance, some foods have to be cooked differently basing on the two cultural backgrounds.
Also, the dress code by the two cultures is different. One may thus feel uncomfortable in the presence of the other person if they are dressed in a certain manner. In such instances, communication is the key to effective co-existence. It is important to inform the other person that their style of doing things hurts one’s emotions or makes them uncomfortable. If possible, then alterations can be made and a consensus reached to avoid conflicts.
Past life experiences could affect relations with persons of diverse cultures, in a positive or negative way. This is through, for instance understanding them better and avoiding issues that could cause harm. For instance, having dealt previously with the whites, it is easy to know and understand their language (verbal and nonverbal), their religion, their expectations, their food and their general culture.
This understanding ensures that people do not experience intercultural conflicts in their day to day living. It makes it easier to handle people of diverse cultures because one has already experienced them in the past. For instance, if a certain communication style was in the past interpreted as harmful, one can avoid it in future.
A bias is a pre-formed perception and attitude towards someone, a group of people or an issue (Crimes and Bias Incidents, 2011). Personal biases that could be experienced in counseling practice include power distance. This is the misperception that one is in control of the situation and the clients’ role is just to listen and take instructions. These personal biases could be challenges to one as a therapist because they could cause harm to clients and also the therapist.
This could be physical, emotional, monetary, legal or even psychological damage. Some of these impacts are irreversible and so it’s important to ensure they are minimized. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and so all parties should be involved in the decision making processes. This ensures that there is collective action and empowerment of the involved people (Frankenberry, 2005).
Subtle racism is defined as a daily and hidden discrimination on the race of an individual. It is harmful to the individuals affected. Examples of this day to day racism are, individuals being ignored, mimicked, or receiving different treatment by the society. Subtle racism affects one’s mental wellbeing.
Therefore, a subtle racist is a person who practices subtle racism (Nittle, 2010). It is mostly indirect and exists in the verbal and non verbal communication between communicators, isolation issues, attitude and other aspects (Barnes, 2000).
There could be significant differences in perceptions and values of members within the same ethnic group. This could be due to differences in the strength of the ethnic identity, a big power distance within the groups, competition for limited resources, individual socialization differences and a difference in the exposure to environment among others.
These differences could be due to the fact that people are exposed to different stimuli as they grow up. Therefore their individual perceptions sometimes differ even when put together with people of the same ethnic group (Hernandez and Ouellette, 1998).
The ACA and NAADAC codes of ethics will be used as references for practice as a counselor. There are 9 principles that govern practices and cultural bias, guided by the code of ethics. Using the code of ethics, a counselor is able to learn and understand that discrimination is wrong and that diversity in the work place should always be enhanced.
Moreover, impartial treatment and objectivity is a key to effective practice. In addition, personal issues should never be mixed with professional practice. Empathy, privacy and confidentiality in practice should always be maintained. This is important because clients need to trust the counselors with their information.
It’s also important to note that all decisions and behaviors have ethical repercussions that could be negative or positive. Moreover, payment issues should be handled with utmost care. Both the practitioner and client should be as open as possible about the pay for services offered, if any. Also, the counselor should provide all the relevant information regarding the issues at hand. This is to ensure that the clients are satisfied with the counseling sessions (NAADAC Code of Ethics, 2004).
It is evident that there are ethno occupational biases which have major impacts on the day to day decision making in the society (Taylor., et al, 1998). Sources of potential cultural bias within a counselor’s practices include privacy and confidentiality, payments, quality of information, treatment of clients and empathy among other key areas (NAADAC Code of Ethics, 2004).
In the modern world, with issues of globalization, it is hard to ignore the fact that intercultural communication exists. Communication styles differ greatly across cultures. Some cultures attach different meanings to different forms of nonverbal and verbal communication. For instance, a hand wave could mean to say bye in one culture but it may also be a sign of dis-interest to another culture.
Some styles of communications could be indirect or direct. It is important that people understand the different language styles of the diverse communities existing so as to minimize the language barriers and intercultural conflicts. Understanding the cultural backgrounds of other people is crucial in forming positive relationships (Gudykunst, 1983).
The resources that could help one to become more informed regarding cultural diversity include books, journals, magazines, day to day experiences and the internet among others. These should have teachings on ways to deal better with discrimination regarding the various diversities mentioned earlier in the paper.
This paper’s learning could be applied to the future practice as a counselor by minimizing the biases regarding all issues mentioned here-in like gender, race, culture and others. This will ensure that there are no stereotypes or misperceptions about any issue or person and hence effective practice (Crimes and Bias Incidents, 2011).
This paper has had a great impact on learning about diversity. This is by helping to understand that different people are born and socialized in different ways. It is therefore up to the communicators to understand all these diversities so as to form harmless relationships and thus coexist peacefully with one another.
Amidst all the intercultural conflicts however there exists a very great positive relation between people of diverse ethnic identity and other cultural diversities. This is in cases where the people involved have learnt to live well with one another despite their differences. This has a major influence on the self esteem of the parties involved (Hernandez and Ouellette, 1998).
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