Friday, June 16, 2006

My Racial Development

In 1986, I was born in Spokane, Washington. My genetic make-up comes from Wales, Scotland, England, and Germany (Weiten, 294). Therefore, I’m white and Euro-American like most Americans in the Untied States of America. When I was a baby and a toddler, I missed many of the developmental norms for a normal baby and toddler (Weiten, 298). For example my fine and gross motor skills were lacking and finally learned how to walk at age two through physical therapy. In addition, my speech skills were lacking; and therefore, I was placed into a special preschool at the age three. I spent most of my early childhood in Spokane and didn’t live in a place that had multiple cultures. Therefore, I was in the first stage of the Helms and Tatum’s Racial Identity Model in my childhood.

In 1996, I moved to Montana and lived there for ten years. Montana doesn’t have many ethnic minorities; and thus, I was exposed to a few of them in my late childhood and teen years. As a teen, I went through a stage called identity foreclosure (Weiten, 312). I accepted my parent’s beliefs of what they thought about ethnic minorities and what rolls they played in America’s society. I was still in the first stage of the Helm and Tatum’s Model in most of my teen years. First, only a handful of Latinos, Asians, Blacks, and Native Americans attended my school and none of them spoke a second language. Naturally, I was curious and na├»ve about other ethnic groups because I didn’t know much about them. For example, when I went to California to visit, I heard many different languages spoken by many different ethnic groups. I thought hearing the languages was cool and different because I never heard that in Montana. In addition, most of my culture experience came from the media and not from my environment.

In 2005, I moved back to Spokane and currently going to Spokane Community College. This quarter, I moved from the first stage to the fifth stage in the Helms and Tatum Identity Model. First, I’m learning more about different ethnic groups, especially in my English class. First, I know that all ethnic minorities can and will contribute to the American society in a positive way. Ethnic minorities are people who I can learn and grow from. For example, I’m learning Goju-Ryu Karate from Teruo Chinen who is Japanese. Chinen Sensei provides unselfish guidance generations younger than him, regardless nationality, because he is concerned about the future generations (Weiten, 314). Second, I don’t evaluate ethnic minorities from a European perspective. I learned that ethnic minorities have a much different experience living in America than whites from a movie named The Color of Fear. When I evaluate them, I have to take in account their nationality and experiences. If I don’t, I will slip back into stage one in the Helms and Tatum’s Racial Identity Model. Third, I will actively try to stop and end all types of oppression, such as sexism, ageism, and racism. I will use my personality traits to an advantage to help and stop oppression by behaving a certain way in which oppression presents itself in various situations (Weiten, 328). For example, if another white person spreads rumors about a Cuban that I know they are not true, I will be honest, kind, direct, and brave by telling that he or she is telling lies and to stop. My church has taught me to stand up for what is right and true, such as standing up for all ethnic minorities, even though I might be persecuted or looked down upon.

During the course of my life, my racial identity has changed. First, when I was a child, I never really thought that my race would be considered as an oppressor to ethnic minorities. I was taught about how the whites enslaved blacks two hundred years ago. However, I wasn’t taught until this quarter how we still enslave the blacks or all ethnic minorities by discriminating against them. Second, I realized that I need to consider that fact that all ethnic minorities have to deal with whites in the United States. Until, this quarter, I didn’t know that they had to think like a white person if they want to succeed in life.

In conclusion, from my life experiences, my view as a white young woman has changed. Now, I realize that not every ethnic minority and white person thinks like me. I have to consider where everyone is coming from and respond accordingly. For example, many whites don’t know about racism and might discriminate against ethnic minorities. Therefore, it is my responsibility to teach them and try to correct them of their ways. In another example, many ethnic minorities have been badly discriminated against. Therefore, if one of them had a problem with me because of my color, I would be more understanding and sympathetic towards them. In addition, I would try to prove that I’m not that kind of white that discriminates against ethnic minorities.

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