Cultural Studies and Diversity

Cultural Studies and Diversity

Task 1: Personal Reflections on Diversity

  1. Defining Culture and Diversity

Culture is the sum of the behaviors, objects, beliefs, as well as other characteristics that are common to members of a particular group and differentiates one group from the other. Culture includes many aspects of the society such as language, values, norms, rules, and other tools that affect the behavior of individuals. One of the characteristics is that it is learned and is also shared. Culture also uses symbols and is adaptive. The other characteristic of culture is that it is constantly changing as both internal and external pressures influence it.

The American society is more diverse today as compared to how it was in the past. The concept of diversity usually entails acceptance, respect, and means understanding that everyone is unique. It means the utmost recognition of our differences regarding race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, physical ability, politics, and religious beliefs. A diverse society is one that can explore these differences in a safe, positive as well as a nurturing environment. Diversity calls for individuals to move beyond simple tolerance and ensure they celebrate the rich the differences we have in culture in a way that does not harm members of the society (Hollins, 2015).

  • Aspects of Diversity that have Influenced My Identity

Many aspects of diversity still form part of my life and personal identity I have developed over the years. These are religion, gender, social status, political beliefs. In regards to religion, I grew up in a community that was predominantly religious and Catholic although my family was not Catholic. I have learned to tolerate the views of others in the society as the same was accorded to us in the community. My religious beliefs were apparent in most of the interactions that I had with the rest of the community. In high school, I went to a predominantly Catholic high school where I was able to interact with stout Catholic followers for many years. This has developed the act of tolerance and acceptance of the differences we have as a community. Today, I can live with people from different religious beliefs thanks to the interactions that I had with the community around us.

The other factor is the social-economic status of my family. I grew up in a high-class community, and despite my family being a middle-class family, we were not at the same level as others in the neighborhood. Our mode of dressing was sometimes off, and we did not enjoy some of the privileges that other members of the society enjoyed. This made our lives harder as other children always bullied us due to our appearance in church, school, and other community places. Despite the fact that we were always clean, my family members were looked upon as failures and unable to take care of themselves. I remember a time when one of my friends commented that my parents were lazy, and it was the reason why I did not have some of the gadgets and video games he had.

Gender has also been another factor that has affected the development of my identity. In most cases, I did most of my childhood things with boys. This made me learn and play with things that are conventionally thought to belong to boys. To date, I have always found myself at ease with males than with females due to the extensive interactions I had with them when I was young. During high school, my study group had more boys than girls, which was influenced by my childhood experiences with my brothers and their friends. My dressing in high school was directed towards emulating my male friends than the female identity. I found myself wearing caps in class and the community. This has developed the personal identity I have today where I feel at ease and safe when with male friends than with my female friends.

Politics forms an important aspect of the American society. In most cases, individuals are either Democrats or Republicans. This also formed a major part of my childhood as well. Election debates pitied different groups against each other. My parents had a different political stand from those of the rest of the community. However, others tolerated my dad’s strong political stands as no ill-feeling resulted from any political debates. This tolerance of political ideas has informed my political views to date. I believe that people with different political beliefs can stay together in harmony and share many things in the society without any violence or hatred. Today, most of my friends belong to a different party, which has not affected my relationships with them. We talk as usual and even make fun of our political ideologies without having any hatred whatsoever. This is something I look forward to passing on to other individuals in the society including my husband and children.

Observable and Non-observable Characteristics

The social status of an individual has many observable and non-observable characteristics. I grew up in a high-class community where most of the families were rich. My family was the only middle-class family in the area. One of the observable characteristics of the social status is appearance. Growing up in a lower-middle-class family meant that I did not enjoy the privileges of the other community members. The clothes we wore and the places we visited during weekends and holidays defined this. This appearance made my parents look lazy in a community that was predominantly high class. We were constantly teased and bullied as children and as teenagers. I remember instances when I was mocked for wearing clothes that did not fit well during a class trip to a local museum. My classmates looked at me as a failure for coming from a family that was considered as poor. However, I was aware that we did not lack anything and my parents were able to take care of us, which made me avoid the insults as just ignorance.

The non-observable characteristic is assumptions. In my view, people in the society tend to assume another member based on their appearance. People develop assumption based on the types of clothes one wears, the house one lives, and the school one attends. The assumptions make individuals perceive one as successful or lazy based on the social-economic status of the family. However, some of these assumptions held by people may be incorrect sometimes as one may be working beyond his or her means to take care of the family.

Part C: Personal Experience

During high school, I had an encounter with a person from a high social class. He was one of the brightest individuals and understood the concept more than most of the people in the class. However, we came from different social-economic statuses, and I did not know if he was ready to help me or he would just let off and assume that I wanted any assistance. The CATs were near, and the only thing that I had to do was to ask for assistance from him, as he was the closest person to my home.

The social barrier brought by the difference in the social-economic status of our different families affected the encounter that I had with him. At first, I had a lot of fear and did not know how to approach him. This was informed by the fact that we did not talk much in class or within the community. His family followed the Catholic faith, which means I did not meet him in church or other religious activities outside school. He was always driving, which made it hard for me to interact with him and request his assistance as I was used to using the school bus on my way home.

When I got the courage to face him and request his assistance, he just said that he would contact me when he had time. Upon asking him how he was planning to do so, he stated that he would hoot on his way home when he passed by my place. This made me feel inferior as I expected him to say that he would call to inform me that he had time. I did not have any other option but to wait for the hoot. When it finally came, he spent much of his time explaining that his parents were hardworking, and that was the reason why he was able to live a happy life and could enjoy the best products in the market. He assumed that my parents were not working hard enough, and it was the reason why I did not have the best things in the society.

How My Awareness of Diversity has Expanded

The experiences of my encounter with the ‘rich kid’ made me have a negative attitude towards individuals in the upper class. My attitude emanated from the many insults and bullying that I went through for coming from a lower social class. However, I have learned the art of tolerance and appreciated that we are different not by our choices by destiny in some sections. I no longer hold any grudges against those in the upper class, as I have understood that class is not permanent and one can climb up the social ladder. 

Part D: Key Concept in Diversity Education

The key concept in diversity educations should be to respect and understand the differences that we have as individuals. Diversity education should ensure that individuals learn to respect those who are different from them and to appreciate these differences as part of our society. Diversity entails knowing that we are unique and different and can exploit these differences in a way that is nurturing. It is important for diversity education to make sure that people learn despite others being different, the differences do not make us superior to them, and it does not mean that they are primitive. Tolerance means that the other people’s difference does not mean weakness. When we appreciate the full meaning of diversity, we can be able to live in a society that is fair and inclusive. Many are the times when one group is seen as weak especially based on race, religion, and culture. Learning that culture is learned and determine the way of life of a large group of people, and it makes us diverse is important for the community.

Educators should be aware of the topic of tolerance especially in the American society that is made up many diverse groups. Learning about diversity in the society is essential for children to grow up with respect for others and to tolerate even in instances when others have diverse views from ours. The country needs to have individuals who appreciate and exploits diversity in a way that nurtures coexistence and nationhood among all individuals.

Part E: Educators and Learning of Diversity

Teachers play a major role in the life of an individual as they instill many values during learning. It is, therefore, important for educators to continue regularly learning about diversity. There are many reasons why learning should be implemented for all educators throughout their careers. One of the reasons is that the American population is becoming more diverse today than it was in the past. The ethnic groups have increased in the United States today compared to 30 years ago. This means there is need to make sure that such individuals can have a conducive environment to expand and succeed in. The constant change of dynamics means that educators should be trained on how to deal with such changes (Banks, 2015).

The other reason why the American educators should continue learning about diversity throughout their careers is due to the changing nature of culture. Culture is not constant and keeps on changing from time to time bringing new dimensions to already existing ones (Banks, 2015). The only way to cover the changes is by educators constantly learning. The third reason is to enhance equality in the American population. In most cases, a diverse community is one that has many people suffering from the inferiority complex and may feel inferior to other groups. This means that educators have a role to play in ensuring that such people can have the same chance as those considered to have better chances. For example, it is important for an educator to instill hope among minority groups that they can study up to the university level and get college degrees as other people in the community (Banks, 2015).

Task 2

Part A            

Part A1

Many distinctly diverse ethnic groups in the US require special attention to ensure they can achieve the same as those in other groups. One of these diverse groups is the African Americans who refer to those Americans of African ancestry and who have lived in the country for generations. It is important to note that Blacks also include people who come from the Afro-Caribbean countries. Only 75% of people from the African American community graduate from high school while 42% graduate from college. This shows that there is need to address different issues that prevent them from graduating (Vega, Moore III, & Miranda, 2015).

The other major diverse group in America is the Native Americans or the American Indians. These were the original populations in the country before the arrival of the Europeans. It is important to note that most of the Native Americans prefer to be called by the names of their tribes as well as the nations they come from. Their graduation rates for high school education are 72%. The college graduation rates are much lower with the rates of graduates being around 10% of the whole population. Therefore, Native Americans face many challenges, which prevent them from graduating. The first step should be to encourage educators to look at some of the challenges and ensure they are addressed (Cox, 2016).

Part A2: Challenges

One of the challenges facing African American students in America is lack of self-belief that they can make it past high school. This is made possible by the low social-economic statuses of most of them, which leads to lack of the much-needed drive to achieve academically. In most cases, the schools attended by these individuals are not well funded and are segregated to some extent. This escalates the lack of self-belief that the students can make it past high school (Cox, 2016). The concept of the narrative against education in the African American communities is also a major challenge for these individuals. They do not get the much-needed support that they require to be able to succeed in the American education system. When this is coupled with the financial aspect of a college education, most of the African Americans opt out of it and pursue other ventures in other areas.

The same issue of economic factors also affects Native Americans. Some Native Americans live in poverty and in communities that do not value college education (Cox, 2016). This means that the students do not have the urge to study or go to school in the first place. It is for this reason that studies show that Native Americans have the lowest scores when it comes to college readiness (Brockenbrough, 2016). This challenge has been escalated by lack of competent teachers who can change or fill the gaps in achievement. The underfunding of Indian schools in the country is another major challenge that affects the level of education in the Indian communities (Cox, 2016). Most of them lack the needed facilities to cater for the educational needs of the students as compared to other schools in the majority neighborhoods. Educators need to reduce the impact of the low self-esteem that occurs among diverse students and prevents them from having the same achievement as other members of the American society. This will ensure there is equality in educational achievement.

Part A3: Instructional Strategies

The strategy that can work well for the African Americans is to maintain highs standards and ensure there is a demonstration of high expectations for all the diverse students in the American classrooms. Research indicates that students can learn more if their teachers challenge them with high expectations (Brockenbrough, 2016). The teachers should use their instructions to encourage the African Americans to identify the problems that they face, engage in collaborative activities and accelerate learning in the process. Expressing high expectations for the students in the African American community pass the belief that they can succeed even in activities that are demanding (Brockenbrough, 2016). Engaging them in novel problem-solving activities ensures that they can deal with their problems outside the classroom in a way that motivates them to achieve more in class.

When a teacher shows believe in a student, then it is evident that the student will also learn and feel encouraged to achieve more. The instructions should also include cases of success of people from the African American community who have achieved in regards to education. With such experiences, students can have a different perception of themselves, the schools they are in, and the chances they have to make it to college. Using successful cases provides the African American students with role models that they can emulate. In most cases, teachers in American schools do not define or develop the concept of achievement via individual determination (Brockenbrough, 2016). This calls for educators to understand that African Americans have different needs as compared to those in other groups.

The strategy that fits well with the Native Americans is the selection of culturally relevant curriculum and materials that provide recognition of the student’s heritage as well as the contribution of various ethnic groups. It is evident that Native American students face low self-esteem issues because of the lack of support from the community. The use of cases that recognize the contributions made by members of their ethnic groups or racial group is a recipe for high self-esteem. This would reduce the stigma they have towards education in the country. Wherever possible, educators should adapt the curriculum to ensure some lessons are meaningful to the students. The advantage of this is that students in the Native American society can practice the language, reading, developing thoughts, and writing in real situations (Paris & Alim, 2014). The feeling that the teacher and other members of the society value and appreciate the culture of the Native Americans work towards encouraging them to study and graduate. This strategy is informed by the fact that students may feel left out if the educational curriculum they are using does not have anything that is representative of their culture. 

Part B: Importance of Responsive Approaches

The culturally responsive pedagogy usually starts with the view that race, as well as calls, usually matter and that some of the schools do not have what it takes to send the right signals to the students that they belong (Paris & Alim, 2014). For the students to feel valued, it is important for teachers to be aware of their own biases, and ensure they work deeply to understand their students (Paris & Alim, 2014). Therefore, the teachers will look for ways to bring the heritage of the student into the classroom and promote high academic standard amongst students. For example, although a teacher’s role is to guide students on how they can communicate and write in Standard English, the teacher would be more successful if he or she starts by appreciating how students speak at home. It is also clear that learning about the needs of the student is something that continues throughout the educator’s career.

Culturally responsive learning enables the educator to identify the common passions among students, which raises the self-esteem of the students. Self-esteem is one of the most important elements in the life of a student as it determines their success rates. Both African Americans and Native American students face a challenge in that they feel left out by having a curriculum that does not have any individual who is part of their heritage (Paris & Alim, 2014). This means that by having culturally responsive approaches, the educator can pinpoint some of the figures who can act as role models among the diverse groups. The changing dynamics of students in the American society require the teacher to continue learning about diversity in a regular manner as the composition of the class is bound to change each year.

Teachers should also use responsive approaches because students who feel valued by their teachers usually take ownership of their learning (Paris & Alim, 2014). A student whose culture is not treated as important is less likely to invest in the learning process. Those appreciated are ready to learn and engage in collaborative activities that foster learning. These students are also likely to act as change agents outside the classrooms in the society where they instill confidence amongst other members of the community. It is the dream of every educator to have a successful class, which means that an educator will seek all means to promote self-esteem amongst students despite the differences in culture and economic statuses. The American society is one that has been built on the foundations of diversity and it only after every diverse group has been incorporated in the learning process that some age-old feelings of inferiority can be eradicated. For example, focusing on the achievements of individuals from every background represented in the class would promote the sense of equality in the classroom and help improve learning among minority students.


Banks, J. A. (2015). Cultural diversity and education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Brockenbrough, E. (2016). Becoming queerly responsive: Culturally responsive pedagogy for Black and Latino urban queer youth. Urban Education51(2), 170-196.

Cox, L. W. (2016). The impact of cultural capital on graduation rates: An ethnographic study of Native American students in southeastern North Carolina (Doctoral dissertation, Fayetteville State University).

Hollins, E. R. (2015). Culture in school learning: Revealing the deep meaning. Routledge.

Paris, D., & Alim, H. S. (2014). What are we seeking to sustain through culturally sustaining pedagogy? A loving critique forward. Harvard Educational Review84(1), 85-100.

Vega, D., Moore III, J. L., & Miranda, A. H. (2015). In their own words: Perceived barriers to achievement by African American and Latino high school students. American Secondary Education43(3), 36.