Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Diversity Research Paper

Pages: 5 (2018 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Race

Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Diversity

I am a Caucasian and I live in Coos Bay, Oregon, a coastal community of about 16,660 people. In our rural county, we have about 62,795 people. The lure of the Pacific Ocean brings many people to visit our community. The community and surrounding coast area is spectacularly beautiful and in many places still pristine as it has been for millions of years. The ethnic make up of Coos County is very similar: according to the U.S. Census for 2009, 92.5% of the people in the county are Caucasian; 0.5% are African-American; 2.6% are Native Americans; 1.1% are of Asian heritage; and Latinos make up 5% of the population (U.S. Census).

Living in a largely Caucasian community on the coast of Oregon -- a good distance from big cities like Portland (225 miles away), or Eugene (118 miles away) -- means that we don't have the racial / cultural tensions that are commonplace in the larger metropolitan areas.

Thesis: The most threatening, disturbing or potentially violent events that take place in Coos Bay are damaging rainstorms, high winds, and earthquakes, which can produce tsunamis. There are tsunami warnings along the coast. Otherwise this is a wonderfully healthy, happy, and wholesome community and people put effort and cooperation toward the goal of keeping Coos Bay that way. Racial and cultural conflict are not here and citizens want it to remain so.

Question One: Do members of Coos Bay look like me? Yes, given that over 90% of the citizens living in Coos Bay are Caucasian like me, indeed, they do look like me. There are Latino and Native American community members and students at the community college who of course do not look like me. But in a small way we are a melting pot. There are older people who don't look like me, but their skin color is the same as mine is.

Question Two: How do leaders in Coos Bay treat me and treat others who are different? Coos Bay has a city council / city manager form of government. The six "city Councilors" are not paid, it's a strictly volunteer position but the people elect them. The church leaders, the community leaders in the various service organizations (Lions, Rotary, etc.), the school administration -- everyone in any leadership position is very friendly and helpful. I am not aware of any bias or racial prejudice at all in this community. No doubt there are incidents that do take place, because we are humans after all and right now immigration is a controversial topic in America and we do have Latino citizens -- including immigrants that work in the restaurants, motels, shops, schools, and in the landscaping business in the community -- but I am not aware of anyone who is not treated fairly. And I am not aware of any incidents of racial or cultural bias.

Question Three: How do other members of the community treat people like you? How do they treat people who are different? I'm not suggesting that we have a Camelot situation where, like a fairy tale, where everything is perfect. But there is a definite air of mutual respect in Coos Bay. On occasion we do see people from Portland or Eugene or other metropolitan areas that have moved here to get away from the crime. I have known some young people of different cultural / ethnic backgrounds who moved her from Portland, a city of 2.2 million. Except for those who are really into the forests or who enjoy surfing, they usually don't stay. Not because they aren't treated well. But because they are bored. This is a sleepy town built around the beauty of this environment, tourism, and education.

Question Four: Do your textbooks or work materials contain information by or about people like you? Yes, the textbooks at the community college and in middle school and high school shed light on American history, the growth and development of American culture, including an enormous amount of information about the Europeans who landed here, pushed the Native Americans back, settled and formed communities, businesses, and societal structures (laws, customs, rituals, and traditions). The Coos Bay School District Middle Schools (grades 6, 7, and 8) use the MacMillian English textbook (rich in culturally diverse references).

In the 7th grade Coos Bay Middle School children read "Tales from the Odyssey"; "Robin Hood"; "The Clay Marble"; "The Eye and the Ear"; and "Catherine Called Birdie." All these books in Middle School are reflective of the world's cultures and they are designed to help provide the best, most inclusive and open education that children can possibly receive. In the 9th and 10th grades, students study history, social studies and literature relating to all the cultures of the world throughout history. Ninth and tenth graders are required to analyze "how history and life may have had an impact on the writer"; books read include "Miracle Worker"; "Romeo & Juliet"; "Animal Farm"; "Odyssey"; "Most Dangerous Game"; "Fahrenheit 451"; several other Shakespearean plays; "Huck Finn" and "Diary of Anne Frank" (Coos Bay School District).

Question Five: Local media -- do they represent you? Yes the local paper (the World) is very reflective of this community and of people like me. Radio stations reflect my tastes and my interests (KDCQ-FM, Oldies; KSBA-FM, community college station; KYTT-FM, Christian broadcasting; KYSJ-FM, jazz; KHSN-AM, sports; KMHS-AM, education, K-12);

Question Six: similarities and differences and minority interests. The similarities are very obvious between myself (Caucasian) and the leaders in Coos Bay (mainly Caucasian, though they are older than me); we are both in the majority culturally and ethnically. Minorities are respected here and their interests -- schools, safety, jobs and health -- are represented.

Question Seven: If I could resolve inequities in Coos Bay how would I do it? I do see people who are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. I would advocate bringing in non-polluting businesses -- maybe technology companies -- that could hire the unemployed.

Question Eight: Culturally and ethnically… Coos Bay is actually a place where you can talk to German immigrants, Mexican immigrants, Japanese-Americans who fought in WWII, members of the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant faiths and others from diverse spiritual groups.

Interview with past president of the Langlois Lion's Club (Roger)

Q: Roger how has Coos Bay changed culturally over the years?

R: My family has been here for about sixty-six years, ever since the end of WWII. My dad was Irish and mom was Italian. They are both gone now. I remember growing up here when there were fewer people but more Mexicans. People got along back then. They still do, but some of the students at the college get a little rowdy. We are a mix of cultures. We live well together.

Q: Has there ever been discrimination against the Latinos here?

R. Well yes I'm sure there has. My dad hired Mexicans to work on our farm and mom had learned Spanish so she heard stories of some beatings of Mexicans. One woman who worked in our garden back then said a white man had raped her. She didn't report it because she was afraid she would be deported.

Q: Have you personally witnessed any ethnic or cultural tensions here?

R: Our Lions group has a project where we provide eyeglasses for people, for children and those not able to buy glasses. One year we had a couple members that made a big deal of out not providing glasses for Mexicans if they didn't have green cards. It was a flashpoint in our group. A minister who was a member stood up and said it was "un-Christian" to deny residents eyeglasses because of their residency status. "They are our neighbors," he said. He got a big hand. I agreed. That's about all I can remember about prejudice and Mexicans in our group.

Q: How would Coos Bay respond if a Muslim group came in and wanted to build a Mosque?

R: I don't think they would want to be in a small town like Coos Bay. They might be more interested in Portland. But if they came and wanted to establish a Mosque, I think there would be some strong resistance. People here don't want controversy, and you can be sure this project would bring lots of controversy, anger, and unsettled feelings. We're not racists but we have a right to keep our community safe and settled.

Interview with Melissa, active in the Coos Bay Community Foundation.

Q: This is a mainly Caucasian town, but do the schools in Coos Bay teach students about cultural diversity?

M: We certainly do. Our teachers are carefully screened in matters of diversity. They are asked to teach We have a mostly white community but our neighbors are Hispanic and Indian, and there are some African-American students at the college. We bring in speakers who represent cultures from all over the world.

Q: Is there any antagonism towards the Latino population in Coos… [END OF PREVIEW]

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