In Michael Gavin’s TED Talk “Why Cultural Diversity Matters,” Gavin discusses the importance of cultural diversity among society and particularly with indigenous people. Gavin goes on to discuss how indigenous people and their cultures are being lost, and this is a problem because of the cultural diversity that indigenous people bring to the world. Gavin goes on to discuss thing such as the malaria outbreak and how it affects two hundred million people globally, and goes on to say how an indigenous people from Peru found a cure for malaria. In addition to this, the most popular treatment of malaria today was found by a herbalist culture in China. Gavin goes on to ask a question of where would we be today if indigenous cultures such as the people of Peru or China ceased to exist, or what if they never existed?
So how do we stop the loss of culture in today’s world? Gavin goes on to discuss stories of people that leave their cultures and mold to a modern, more powerful culture in order to hopefully live a more successful in life and to bring success to their future family. So, if people are leaving their cultures in order to find a fair playing ground in today’s world, what can we do in order to ensure that these cultures do not die out? I believe that there are many things that need to be done in order to help cultural diversity thrive. However, I believe that the key to ensuring strong cultural diversity is to enforce cultural diversity education in schooling, giving to less privileged cultures in order to allow them to practice their cultural traditions and norms, and lastly promote diversity in the workplace.
Education is a powerful tool that influences our society from the early ages of childhood. Education influences our lives for almost two decades, and gives us an understanding of our world. Now, our education system may not be perfect, however, that is neither here nor there. But if we promote cultural diversity in the classroom from a young age all the way through college, I strongly believe we will have a strong, culturally aware generation that can help ensure cultural diversity in today’s world.
In Gordon Halls (ET AL) academic journal, “Toward Ethnocultural Diversification of Higher Education,” Gordon et al discuss the attitudes of society towards ethnocultural diversification in education, particularly with higher education. In this study, Hall et al discuss how ethnocultural diversity is met with resistance. Hall et al go on to state that “A useful metaphor for understanding attitudes toward ethnocultural diversification in higher education may be found in people’s attitudes toward paying taxes. One group is opposed to paying taxes and believes that individuals should fend for themselves,” (2011, Hall ET AL, pg. 244). Hall’s et al metaphor shows that there is a level of arrogance in our society that does not allow growth in our culture.
This makes me think about a discussion in my Intercultural Communication course at Utah Valley University. I believe -this is in my own experience and understand that this is not the same for everyone- that privilege has a major role on why people are so steadfast in fighting against cultural diversification in our education system. I would argue that diversification in our education system would do nothing but benefit our society, and help ensure the longevity of other, smaller cultures.
Hall et al go on to discuss the benefits of diversity in education, and go on to say “Diversity in higher education, including colleges and universities, has many potential benefits. These include the enhancement of cognitive skills, cultural awareness, interest in social issues, a pluralistic orientation, and an overall heightened concern for the public good (Hurtado, 2005),” (2011, Hall ET AL, pg. 243). If young adults, or college students are showing that they are growing mentally and emotionally from cultural diversification, imagine how much our children would grow from ethnocultural diversification, and what kind of change they would make for our future world.
Privilege is something that I am thankful, and learned to be grateful for. However, there was a time when I didn’t think about the privileges that my society and culture provide me. Many cultures from around the world do not get to enjoy the privileges that I get to enjoy. Many people in the American culture often go on in their daily lives not realizing the privileges they get to have every day. One of the privileges that we have, in our culture, is the ability to provide to less privileged people.
How can we use our privileges to provide to less privileged cultures in order for them to survive and thrive? There are many ways we can help less fortunate cultures succeed in our society. One place to start is to recognize that many people in the American culture, not all, are born into privilege. In Gulati-Partee and Potapchuk’s article, “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity,” Gulati-Partee and Potapchuk discuss how cultural and racial differences are maintained in our society. Gulati-Partee and Potapchuk show how a cultural majority has a stronghold, and grip on minority cultures and races in the United States. This grip affects the way these smaller, less fortunate cultures survive and can also give us an idea on how cultural diversity is looked down upon.
We need to recognize our privileges, our culture that dominates our society and affects less fortunate cultures. Gulati-Partee and Potapchuk discuss challenges that white culture brings to smaller cultures. Gulati-Partee and Potapchuk go on to state “By “white culture,” we mean the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. Because it is so normalized it can be hard to see, which only adds to its powerful hold,” (2014, Gulati-Partee and Potapchuk, pg. 27). Understanding our helps us realize how we hold ourselves back from growing, and ironically, we withhold our privilege of being able to grow into a much more knowledgeable, more powerful and diverse society by not pursuing and strengthening cultural diversity.
Lastly, I want to discuss the importance of cultural diversity in the workplace. So far I’ve discussed bringing cultural diversity into the workplace, and utilizing our privileges to ensure cultural diversity in America, but now let’s discuss cultural diversity in what our society and culture wants us to become a part of: The Workplace. In my opinion, and I understand that everyone’s opinion may be completely different, I believe that continuation of cultural diversity in the workplace will help establish an equal ground for smaller cultures to thrive in.
In Lozano and Eschrich’s article “Cultural Diversity in Business: A Critical Reflection on the Ideology of Tolerance,” Lozano and Eschrich discuss how cultural diversity is vital and important idea that affects our entire society. Lozano and Eschrich go on to discuss tolerance and respect for other cultures. I believe, and again this is my opinion, that our culture tolerates minority cultures. Many people acknowledge that the cultures are there, however, this does not mean that people have respect for these cultures. Lozano and Eschrich go on to state “As we have seen, the concept of tolerance has evolved with various interpretations, but it cannot be identified with respect. A person can tolerate something, but that does not mean that he or she feels respect for what is tolerated (Cortina 1997),” (2017, Lozano and Eschrich pg. 685). This way of thinking keeps us from growing and becoming culturally diverse.
How can we become culturally diverse in the workplace so that these smaller cultures can survive? Stop with just tolerating cultures and learn to respect them. This idea ties in with education and understand our privileges. Lozano and Eschrich go on to say “Our concept of respect is more inclusive and exceeds the conception of tolerance that is associated with pacific coexistence. It is about generating a positive interaction that generates plural and enriching coexistence,” (2017, Lozano and Eschrich, pg. 685). Learning to coexist with our smaller cultures will, in my opinion, allow our society to thrive and grow. If we can generate the respect and ability to coexist with these smaller cultures, we could become an even more influential society for the entire world, and, hopefully, lead our smaller cultures into a future of longevity and equality.
Overall, in order to support our smaller cultures, it is vital that we provide them the privileges that we live every day. Starting with our education system from a young age is a great way to influence a much brighter, and stronger generation. Secondly, providing what we can with our daily privileges will allow a culture to survive. Things such as donations can allow private organizations to create multi-cultural gatherings that support our smaller cultures. Lastly, many people in our American society go through so many things to earn a spot in today’s workplace. What are we doing to ensure respect and coexistence with smaller cultures? This will only allow us to grow and influence our society to become better.
Gulati-Partee, G., & Potapchuk, M. (2014). Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity. Foundation Review, 6(1), 25-38. doi:10.9707/1944-5660.1189
Hall, G., Martinez, C., Tuan, M., McMahon, T., Chain, J., Hall, G. N., & … Chain, J. (2011). Toward ethnocultural diversification of higher education. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(3), 243-251. doi:10.1037/a0024036
Lozano, J. j., & Escrich, T. t. (2017). Cultural Diversity in Business: A Critical Reflection on the Ideology of Tolerance. Journal Of Business Ethics, 142(4), 679-696.