Term Paper: Ethics and Race in My Community

Pages: 6 (1883 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Topic: Race  ·  Buy This Paper

Racism in America today is much different from racism in the traditional sense. The intensity of anti-racism and political correct dialogue lobbyists within the past decade has made it taboo to be or even appear racist. As a result, racialized relationships are no longer the "status quo" but have rather moved into more subtle forms that lie beneath the surface of most communities. From my perspective, communities are still extremely racialized and divided by race. This is not something that people talk about on a constant level, mostly because the subject is taboo, but never the less it still exists on every level of my community. I believe that racialized division within my community exists subtly through relationships, communities, and local politics.

My racial background is a mix of white traditional European stock and Hispanic. As a result, I am in fact part of two diverse and very polar racial cultures. In a recent St. Petersburg Times article, I learned that Hispanics are in fact the largest minority group in Florida. With more than 2.3 million Hispanics in Florida we seem to be the largest growing demographic throughout the state (Krueger, npg). Having such a large Hispanic population significantly shaped my life and shaped the relationships that I build. Inherent within the racialized nature of my community is the fact that most of my parent's friends growing up were Hispanic. Several reasons can be attributed to this; first, Hispanics in general want to stick together when they are within communities. Part of it has to do with the implicit closeness demanded through cultural etiquette, but the main reason is that Hispanics tend to feel like an aberration within the traditional "American way." As a result we tend to want to distance ourselves from conventional society rather than thrust ourselves into the mainstream. Another major reason for my parents' behavior is their workplace environment. Since race is something that sticks out everywhere we go, it provides at the very outset an identity. When my parents are within the workplace they can identify with others who are Hispanic and as build instant connections. These work relationships oftentimes translates to friendships. Thus racialized relationships develop everywhere in my life through the influence of my family. Thus my parents' friends were mainly Hispanics within the local community, and these relationships had a dramatic impact on my racial connections as I grew up. Most of my friends were Hispanics, as they were the children of my parents' friends.

Race is an unspoken but omnipresent issue that underlies the decisions of every individual, and this especially applies to my family and me because of our racial background. The people within our community look mostly like us; they are a blend of white Europeans and Hispanics with a smattering of Asians and Blacks. I feel that communities themselves establish a racial identity early on and through this they become highly racialized as time progresses. This is evident within my community, rather than income or any other major indicator; one can immediately see that our community primarily identifies itself through our Hispanic heritage early on. Most of my neighbors are Hispanic, and the community itself supports many Hispanic activities and cultural centers. The majority of restraunts here have Spanish menus and Spanish is spoken here almost as an afterthought. We have traditional Hispanic meals at home and culture permeates the environment that I live in. These are all of the positives of living within a highly racialized community. It means that I have the advantage of a high cultural IQ; I understand both my Hispanic roots as well as my European background.

The racialized nature of my community has its roots within the Hispanic heritage of our neighborhood and the people who live here, but has extended to the leadership within our community on a local government level. Our mayor is Hispanic as well as other important figures within city government. When I have observed campaigns for grassroots participations in local government most of the signs, flyers, and even speeches are given in Spanish rather than English. City leaders provide special attention to Hispanics within our community because they understand that this racial demographic is where most of their votes comes from. Therefore we are provided with many different resources that allow us to establish the strong Hispanic cultural presence that is on our community. One detriment of this polarized nature of racial leadership is that they often neglect our community members. Asians, Muslims, and other minorities that reside in our community have little to no funding for their cultural activity nor does city hall seem to support them nearly as much. Leadership seems to pay special attention to our ethnic issues, but the highly racialized nature of our community lends itself to exclude others. This level of differentiated treatment does not only limit itself to our city leadership, but it is evident in the relationships between our neighbors and friends. When Asian families move to our neighborhood, instead of creating or attempting to create the same bonds of friendship that my parents enjoy with the neighbors, there seems to be hushed chill applied to them. While normally when a Hispanic family moves into the neighborhood they are welcome as if they have joined an extended family. For individuals of other racial backgrounds, our neighbors and friends seem to have no common concept of what to do to welcome them, if they even have such intentions in the first place. The overall affect is that there is an airy sense of exclusion that takes place within my community. It is almost as if, in assuming the role of "minority," Hispanic communities have taken on a certain air of exclusivity as well.

I have realized within my studies that race has become something of an underground movement in the wake of its "taboo" status within mainstream society. Just as Asians often create tight knit communities that takes advantage of their cultural background represented by the many different Chinatowns, Korea towns, and other Asian centralities throughout Florida. Our community is the same, and that level of racial exclusivity that occurs within tight knit ethnic communities affects everything that occurs here. Even public education is dramatically affected. Not only do we have bilingual classes that takes advantage of our Spanish backgrounds, but within school we are often taught Central and South American history much more extensively than normal. Therefore I see information about my racial background and ethnicity within textbooks, on television and reinforced through my community. As a result, there is a strong sense of belonging that is associated with living in our community. Although this has many positives because it allows me have a very strong ethnic identity, it also has some negatives such as the disengagement I feel from mainstream American society. Katherine Gratto, a Ph.D student at University of Florida provides similar insights. She argues that "Some of the tension between different racial groups may arise from institutions and practices that draw too much attention to differences and not enough to what people have in common, such as clubs and organizations that are often solely based on race or ethnicity" (Gratto, npg). Part of the problem with our racialized community is that the ethnic nature of it builds a wall of exclusivity that keeps everything and everyone out. As a result, not only are we unfamiliar with mainstream society, but they are equally unfamiliar with us. This is a large part of why Hispanics are not as well integrated into mainstream American society as other ethnic groups.

The extent of that race plays within the media is another important area that affects my life. Since there is such a strong Hispanic minority within Florida, our media and entertainment has a strong influence from this. Our local news reporter is Hispanic and many programs on television from both a local perspective as well as in entertainment centers upon Hispanic culture and issues that concerns our ethnicity. Hispanic newspapers are very prominent and even local newspapers address areas of concern for Hispanics. The media attention on a local level is very positive; it addresses our immediate needs and is all about subjects that highly interest us. However on a broader level such as within our state and definitely on a national level, Hispanics are painted in a very negative light, especially Mexicans. In many ways I feel that on a broader level Hispanics are victimized, this is especially true of my racial identity. The fact that we are portrayed as ill-educated and with lack of social etiquette plays a strong role in shaping a kind of distrust of mainstream society within me. The inevitable result of course is that my community and other Hispanic communities like it become even more disassociated with the mainstream.

If I could change the inequalities within my community I would focus on opening up our community to other ethnicities and begin to bridge the gap between racially exclusive communities like ours and mainstream society.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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