In the following pages I will be exploring what I have learned about diversity. I will delve into how I came to understand diversity, and then discuss my own culture as it relates to diversity. I will discuss the trend in the United States as it pertains to the population and what challenges we face as a nation. Our acceptance of diversity is influenced by the media outlets be it news or entertainment. What will it take for us to work together to reduce prejudice and increased appreciation for diversity? Though I will only scratch the surface as you read on it may provoke thought, and bring to light new ideas for you to ponder.
My current employment is in law enforcement which thrusts me into the so called “melting pot” of society. Part of the law enforcement academy we are taught about cultural diversity and how to relate to the numerous culture that we will come in contact with throughout our careers. To keep my law enforcement certification I must partake in diversity training once every four years. The basic message that I received from my diversity training is acceptance of all people. I was trained to keep an open mind and cast aside any preconceived notion that I may have picked up in life. We are forbidden to discriminate in our profession. In my personal life I do not practice, because of the fact I do not want my children to grow up thinking that type of behavior is acceptable.
Though you could not tell from my last name I am from Italian descent. During my early childhood I was raised in an Italian community. Until age twelve I had sporadic interactions with my Italian heritage, I say sporadic because at age four I was placed into the foster care system in Massachusetts until age twelve. I could visit my biological family on the weekends in which I was immersed in the Italian lifestyle. Of course from what I remembered it was all about family and a tight knit community. During this course and after reading chapter five of “Racial and Ethnic Groups”, I learned that the Italians were not always liked. Apparently the Italian’s were not treated well in the United States when they emigrated from the homeland. “From the beginning Italian Americans played prominent roles during the American Revolution and the early days of the republic. Mass immigration began in the 1880s, peaking in the first 20 years of the twentieth century, when Italians accounted for one-fourth of European immigration. For example, in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, Italian Americans established special ties with the Black community because both groups were marginalized in Southern society. Gradually, Italian Americans became White and enjoyed all the privileges that came with it. Today, it would be inconceivable to imagine that Italian Americans of New Orleans would reach out to the African American community as their natural allies on social and political issues (Schaefer, 2012). This behavior appears to be typical on those that immigrated to the United States.
The one issue that Italian’s are still dealing with is the preconceived notion that Italian’s are all linked to criminal activity. “While as a group Italian Americans are firmly a part of Middle America, they frequently continue to be associated with crime. The fact that Italians often are characterized as criminal, even in the mass media, is another example of what we have called respectable bigotry toward White ethnics. The persistence of linking Italians, or any other minority group, with crime probably is attributable to attempts to explain a problem by citing a single cause: the presence of perceived undesirables” (Schaefer, 2012)....