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Racial And Ethic Identity, And Their Relation To Development

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Racial and ethical identity are both very important components to the total framework of an individual and collective identity. When focusing on minority groups in other countries such as the United States, racial and ethical identities are exposed in acutely judicious ways. These contradictory practices are generated through social and cultural influences. To begin with, the immersion of traditions and culture through the means of education, neighborhood, religious and familial communities are deep-seated in a positive logic of individual and ethnic identity. Furthermore, individuals often are driven to filter ethnic identity through the various forms of media messages as well as the negative tenues from others based solely upon race and ethnicity. The information stated above affirms that individuals with a minority status are disproportionately at a considerable disadvantage within a society. Groups such as white Americans, for example, charter racial and ethnic identity in manners that are inadvertent through the means of their behaviors, assumptions and beliefs. This is by the virtue of societal standards being built upon values, priorities, ethical, racial and cultural framework as they refer to the unification of cultures in Standard America and not solely the identity of ethnicity. This is visible every day in the life of an American, through their behaviors and attitudes. Remarkably most of the minorities culture and norms are hardly ever installed in distinct identities that align with ethnicity. Nevertheless, this paper addresses that multicultural framework and ethnic identity are very imperative, for learners within the learning commonwealth. Therefore, this essay examines legitimate racial and ethnic identity literature to a substantial comprehension in what manner evaluates adult learning.

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The paradigms of race and ethnicity in America are much too abstruse to define and frame. This is a topic that is extensively discussed in psychology, literature theology and philosophy amid other fields hence having experts come up with different interpretations making the distinction of expressions more difficult. The identity of race itself is commonly misunderstood, some get it from social perspective while other understand it from a biological perspective in which the quality of gene pools, physical characteristics, and the quality of personality defines an individual. By exploiting these distinctive characteristic features, Europeans categorize persons hierarchically by physical abilities and ethical qualities, with Caucasians being superior followed by Asians and lastly Africans and Native Americans at the base of the ethnic ladder. However, if we look past the characteristic features, racial groups have more affinities than deviations. Yet, today’s definition of the social perspective is the most prevalent. People identify themselves different from one another based upon their skin color and in most cases it is this specific feature that plays a considerable part in how certain persons are handled. As a result, distinguishing ethnicity displays a social contrast or difference, but in actuality skin color identifies a person within a society which ultimately serves as an identity card. A group defined by color share norms, cultures and often times an origin in which they can be informed about themselves and in some cases about other persons. Assuming that consciously or unconsciously individuals identify themselves within a group of people in which they feel as though they share some form of a collective connection of parallel values, traditions, beliefs and behaviors. These segments form a connection between people in a signifying manner which allows them to proudly know who they are as individuals as well as a collective group therefore finding the world around them to be meaningful.

Contrarily, there are some instances where an individual feels ashamed and disconnected when they identify with a specific group especially in cases where adverse ethnicity is evident thus giving adverse public messages the capacity to prevail. Therefore, ethnic distinctiveness expands the ability for an individual to move in the direction of a considerable conscious affinity with their cultural values, traditions, beliefs and behavior. The racial and ethnic identity models suggest a theoretical conclave for individuals to comprehend and appreciate their interposition and that of varying cultures as well. Models and theories of racial and ethnic identity progress have steadily advanced in the last two decades, due to people beginning to accept that the United States is racially and ethnically diverse. In addition to this, there are an abundant amount of social and psychological theories that attempt to define the “self” and they concur that the term and concept of self is delicate to determine. This concludes that both the psychological and cognitive structural models are in fact phase models that acknowledge growth in a stepwise evolution, whereas up-to-date models characterize racial and ethnic identity to be a lifelong measure.

The original objective of these models was to constitute that the reality of the black experience in the United States is declared. One of the original examples of these models is Cross (1971) in which he displays a fit black developing starting as a non-Afrocentric then develops to Afrocentric and ultimately multicultural distinctiveness. This evolution implicates persons moving from total ignorance of race via recognizing the black culture in its totality in order to commit to various cultures in addition to acknowledging all oppressed groups matters. Cross’s model is a very critical component of the delineation ethnic identity as a form of a vibrant development, it prompts a group of persons in a distinct ethnic group and others as it acknowledges ethnocentric and multiculturalism frames. Nonetheless, the primary weakness of Cross’s model is that he begins with blacks being unaware of the race of others as well as of their own race before they experience or become aware of identity. Parham (1989) is another model of race and ethnic identity. For him, racial or ethnic identity progression is a lifelong cycle that is continuous for blacks. His theory proposes that persons, experience state of emotions such as anger towards whites that progresses to the development of absolute black reference frame. Correspondingly, through these means objective racial identity and bicultural realizations are achieved. Parham transmits white people directly to the black identity in such a way that blacks move from unconscious to conscious. This goes on to affirm that when blacks oppose Western culture and or the adverse treatment received from others due to the differences in colors, they establish awareness or self-consciousness of racial identity. Ultimately, Parham’s model endorses a sense of development or advancement. In addition, it displays that there is an evolution from unconscious to conscious in correlation to racial identity. The flaw of tis model is its assurance that the fundamental cause of racial identity development is the display of racial difference that cannot be bypassed. To some extent, we acknowledge the principal trigger for separable racial identity is the assurance of one’s own racial devolution as well as a group of a racial self through the means of entanglement.

Next is Helms (1993-1995) who is accredited for the development of a model on the white racial identity. The model she developed presumes that the presence of individual, cultural and institutional racism accepts white superiority. In point of this, she presents that the stages are a limiting factor considering that an individual is adequate enough to be in more than one definitive stage at a particular time. The initial three standings clearly framework how a white individual evolves and dissociates themselves from a frame of racism early before they discover a non-racist identity as whites. The influential aspect of this model is its emphasis on racial identity development as it strongly depends on interracial exposure. Still, its weakness is the mere fact that it does not distinguish between a non-racist frame development and racial identity development leading to disorientation. Helms provides evidence that whites racial identity revolves around their perceptions, feelings and behaviors towards black persons rather than development and consciousness of an authentic white racial identity.

The Cross, Parham and Helms models of racial identities each discuss and dispute self-racial recognition and a relation between racial consciousness of others. Therefore, it is apparent that every individual’s self-awareness of racial and ethnic identity is vital. Additionally, how we perceive and look at others plays an imperative role in development and consciousness. This is also another model that primarily focuses on what family and community teaches persons about their cultures. Thus, concluding that there can be no form of ethnicity without shared language, culture, religion and geography. Moreover, persons of one ethnicity are united by strong loyalty, proximity and kinship. Elements that constitute learned culture include symbols, rituals and behavior that patent themselves from elementary values, beliefs and assumptions. Therefore, commonalities that are accustomed within a distinct group are specified by models of identity development. These three concepts are what I have discussed as the concept’s representative. Walking Stick Garrett and Garrett (1994) give an expressive or descriptive model of the Native Americans identity and worldview. They suggest a number of elements of the Native American ethnic value and perspective which comprise of the meaning of tribe, spirituality, harmony, balance and humor. For example, elders are considered to be the most fundamental members of Native Americans as they are highly honored and used as a reference by members who seriously identify with their culture. Therefore, Native American individuals become more useful to their community as they grow older because they are considered to have collected much wisdom that they are able to share with others in the tribe. Walking Stick Garrett and Garrett’s model is useful in making accessible logic of communal structures and patterns of the Native American’s values, identity and worldview. Moreover, they correlate each native component with major culture and discuss how cultural engagement supports the Native identity development. However, it is important to realize that each ethnic population can have its own disparities which at times are very vast, hence all the models mentioned above are only guidelines to some characteristics in which ethnic identity manifests itself. Katz (1989) identifies fifteen distinct values and perspectives in identifying white American culture in her descriptive and evocative model of ethnic identity and worldview. This is transmitted from a notion of time that is linear and guarded as a service or product, to a win-loss alignment that is linked to the competition rate. White American individuals seems to value and reward independence and autonomy. More so, Katz states that individuals in this class and or with these believes mention that they cannot understand shared culture or even relate to others.

Personally, I find the model to be objective as it does not reckon the idea that all whites were born racist. It does not address the stages that whites go through to shape an identity in ethnic line. Furthermore, this model does not discuss activators of ethnic identity consciously. Phinney (1990) introduces another model that she deems is better than the rest as she believes that it can pertain to all groups. Phinney explains that every ethnic group has disparities that come about due to their membership within a group that is not dominant and so this must be resolved. Before all else, groups that are less dominant within a society must resolute the stereotypes and prejudices of the white population that is dominant against individuals of the non-dominant group which therefore leads to the creation of a dangerous notion of self-concept. Secondly, the proposed value system clash with the non-dominant and dominant groups is important since it gives the minority group the ability to discuss bicultural value systems and organizations. This model is favorable in that it is able to recognize definite consciousness triggers as well as outlines that face ethnic self-concept. However, it lacks an analysis of positive critical component of the assimilation into an individual’s culture. Additionally, the aim of the issues outlined depend on the cultures stability. It is difficult to understand how the environments of education are deeply affected by our racially and ethnically demarcated sense of self, of learning and of education. Complications arise for many minority and international adult learners when they attempt to transfer learning settings that were built in an ethnic base of values, beliefs and behaviors and also a different way of doing things. Regrettably, these racial and ethnic indicators are sometimes unintentionally applied by educators and peers in the process of learning making them problematic to examine, identify and modify. Those, educators should make an aim to make what is believed to be invisible to be visible in their position as educators within the learning environment. In addition to this, educators have the ability to establish practices that fit in multiculturalism. Also, multiculturalism’s method of doing this varies due to knowledge, style and perspective which must be included in a multicultural learning environment. Furthermore, a strong learning community should have the ability to honor, support and challenge every learner despite there contributions or uniqueness. Racial and ethnic identities thus have an imperative influence to the relationship between individual learners and a learning environment. In many cases, white children obtain an education that cements their ways of life and culture. Therefore, these students don’t get the chance to learn about other cultures which makes it more difficult for them to embrace an educational environment that thrives with multiculturalism. This being said for education to be of great value, it is vital to create learning environments that accommodate and respect diversity. These can be achieved by designing collaborative and individual tasks, that encourage reflective and discussion activities, and employing visual, written, relational and various types of learning styles.

Curricula and activities must be visible and conscious to multiculturalism in order to involve a diversity of worldviews and knowledge bases. Educators, should also consider the relationship between the present cultural activities and practices in different communities as well as how an effective learning community is defined. In many instances, educators would feel comfortable if they had established a setting that maintained their own norms while ignoring multiculturalism. It is also hard to ignore that different experiences learners present to the learning environment depend upon their cultural and ethnic identities. This becomes a major factor that affects a learning environment. Most minority and international members bring forth experiences of having to negotiate educational treatment of negative and lowed expectations, invisibility stereotyping, hostility and survival. Therefore, these individuals obtain the ability to give an objective observation and compare different cultures.

Lastly, educators can build beneficial communities of multicultural learning by teaching in rational and self-sharing ways and encouraging and offering multiple points of views. Additionally, educators should assistant learners better possess the essence of cultivating multicultural skills and understanding as it predominantly fuels and strengthens the learning experience.

31 October 2020

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