The United States of America is plays host to the most diverse cultures of the world. Proof of this can be seen by the standard American lifestyle which is continuously being exposed to a variety of diverse cultures whether they like it or not. Televisions have over 100 channels which accommodate the special nationalities such as channels which show Spanish shows or Indian ones at that. In every city there are numerous places of worship which satisfy the cultural religious needs of the local residents, such as Mosques, temples, churches and even shrines for the different religions.
Every aspect of the American lifestyle holds traces which exhibit the diversity of the cultures existing in the nation. Music, television, movies, and even fashion are influenced by the existence of the diverse cultures in America. Millions of immigrants travel to America in the hope for a better future or better lifestyles. It is a natural seen tendency that these people, who bring along their own specific cultural values and norms, settle in areas where there is an already existing number of their home nationality.
This builds a stronger cultural base for the locality as the numbers of immigrants enforce the application of their cultural values in their vicinity. America is perhaps the largest democracy to hold the largest number of diverse cultures and provide them with the equal rights that it provides its own citizens. This is the major reason why immigrants wish to settle in America as they are given the status that the hosts themselves possess. However, with the influx of immigrants it has both its benefits and its disadvantages.
This paper will examine the effects of a multicultural society and how it has affected the United States in the world’s eyes. Another population which exists in the United States is the disabled. The disabled include all those people who are unable to function normally like others due to impairments which could be physical, mental, cognitive, intellectual or sensory by nature. These people have difficulty is performing regular tasks and often require special privileges and favors. Getting closer parking spots and ramps for wheelchairs are images which come to mind when we think about the disabled but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are numerous constitutional and ethical rules established which aid the disabled in the society. The United States offers many amenities to the disabled to help them lead better lives and to provide them opportunities to do tasks which would be perceived as impossible for them to do otherwise (such as driving cars or even going shopping). In the part which will discuss disability in the United States I will address the types of disabilities that the United States recognizes and how the government offers benefits to those who are afflicted by them.
The paper will also discuss the living standards of the disabled in America. Cultural Diversity in the United States Introduction The United States has been admitting entrance to foreigners since its independence and due to the sheer number of immigrants it is impossible to divide them on a cultural level. Culture constitutes religion, beliefs, origin of nationality, geographic location, music, race, and other numerous anthropological, sociological, psychological aspects of an individual hence rendering the division culture on any one basis impossible (Peterson, 2004).
But for this report we will consider multicultural aspect to broadly encompass the different nationalities which coexist in the United States side by side. The census conducted in 2006 gives us a clear picture as to the division of the United States population based on the different races existing in the country. The races are divided along the lines of Whites, African Americans, American Indians or Native Americans, Asian, Hawaiians, Some other races and people having 2 or more races combined (U. S. Census Bureau). The majority of the population consists of Whites with approximately 74% of the population.
The whites however can further be bifurcated into different nationalities such as the Irish, English, Italians, and other European background countries which have settled in the United States. The second largest population as per race existing in the United States is the Black population with an approximate percentage of 12. 7% of the population. This is roughly one third of the population. The African-American population (as they are better called) constitutes people who have migrated from Africa and the Jamaican countries and other West Indian states.
The black community is concentrated in around 10 states whereas they are relatively dispersed throughout the country. The Asians are also an increasing population in the country with their numbers increasing rapidly in recent years. The Asians are people hailing from countries such as China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Philippines and other Eastern countries. Effects of Multicultural existence Multiculturalism refers to the framework which aims at viewing the world as a community of people.
The base of multiculturalism lies in establishing that we are all individuals who are more similar in nature than different (Parhizgar, 2002). Cultural diversity however refers to the dissimilarities between people as per their race, beliefs, religion and other cultural indicators. Thus, multiculturalism is very different from cultural diversity in nature. The definition of multicultural diversity as I can deduce from the two distinct definitions is that it refers to the acknowledgement of the different cultures yet conduct a lenient and hospitable approach in dealing with them.
It relates to the acknowledgement that there are other cultures in the world yet we should live in a supporting environment to foster strong healthy relations with others. One of the characteristic of establishing a multicultural society is that it can create a sense of interdependence, interrelatedness and correlated human synergies. This means that more is achieved by a synergetic society than one individual could ever attain in the society alone. Another characteristic identified is that multiculturalism builds a healthy environment which respects all cultures and beliefs existing in the world.
Every human thought and value would be respected in such a society and create a tolerable setting for others to interact in (Parhizgar, 2002). The existence of numerous races in one geographic location naturally leads to a phenomenon known as Diffusionism, which in anthropological terms relates to the transference of culture and beliefs from one group of people who are in the majority to another who is in minority. The cultural values transferred from the majority is not a one way process as in the transaction some cultural values from the minority also find their way into the majority’s beliefs and values.
Proof of this statement can be provided that if such a scenario existed then in the American society the only existing culture should have been the “white-man’s” culture. But since the cultural exchange is a two way process, the white man was just as affected with the cultural behaviors of minority as they were affected by him. Music choices (such as Rap and Arabic influences), television and movie themes and fashion bear witness to the mix and match that cultures conduct to create a culture which holds elements of numerous cultures at the same time.
Multicultural effects in daily lives An effect of multicultural diversity is that it has affected the education system of America. The school system plays hosts to students arriving from diverse backgrounds and different cultures. Chinese background students study alongside students from Hispanic countries. Arabian students study along with children from European backgrounds. This diverse group of students is easily molded. Due to their tender age they are susceptible to be influenced by their teachers, friends and other peers (Appelbaum, 2002).
The educational system has had to revise itself due to this reason as any and all material which may offend any group of people has had to be eliminated as it may create tense atmospheres within schools. Topics such as religion, politics, and history have been thoroughly gone through to see that there are no aspects which may offend any minority or group existing in the United States. Educational institutes are not the only place where culture has played a major role. Occupation also plays an important role in molding multicultural values.
People who work as public service employees in major cities or places with higher diversity are exposed more frequently to multicultural issues. Policemen operating in areas with diverse cultures have to be able to handle the different cultures with equality else it creates resentment not only for law enforcement but creates frictions between the different communities. Similarly doctors, firefighters, academicians, and public officials have to be fair and just when handling the different cultures (Pulera, 2006). Aside from location, age is an important factor which influences the effects of multiculturalism.
It has been observed that younger people have more tendencies of accepting diverse cultures easily than their elders. The younger age allows them to experiment with newer cultures while grown-ups refrain from altering their beliefs or values since they have held on to them for longer. Thus, it is the younger generation that promotes cultural exchanges and makes multiculturalism much easier to adopt. That is why in our media we witness the mixing of cultural flavors to satisfy all the viewership which includes all the cultures. In the United States a trend seen rising is inter-cultural marriages.
This could be taken as a step closer to multiculturalism. It is hard to be biased towards any culture if you are related to it. It also brings more insight into understanding of different cultures and better dealing with them. These kinds of family structures allow children to grow in a healthy cultural atmosphere with sharing of cultures from both sides of their lineage (Turner, 2002). A multicultural family structure is becoming more popular as the world has expanded thanks to technologies such as the internet which have brought the world to our doorstep and we can interact easily with people from across the globe.
Disadvantages of a Multicultural society As such there is no evident harm in having a multicultural society. If different cultures live amicably and do not create differences amongst each other then everyone benefits. But not all cultural exchanges that take place are good. Sometimes elements creep into cultures which make it toxic for other cultures. America openly welcomed people from different cultures, but by opening their doors they also let the social evils enter with the cultures. People who were entering the states came from societies much backward than ours.
When they entered our society they found they had rights which provided them benefits which they would have never possessed in their own countries. Organized crime was on a rise when the immigration was at its peak as immigrants were recruited by syndicates of their home country while trafficking of immigrants also led to unauthorized entries to the States. Numerous other civilized countries are facing problems such as these under the light of Multiculturalism (BNP news team, 2005). Another disadvantage of multiculturalism is that it allows the people to hide under the shade of racism and other such labels.
The affirmative action and other such policies created help the specific cultures thrive without providing anything productive in return. They receive social benefits from the government such as sheltered tax brackets, unemployment policies to support them and other such benefits which are not easily available to all. Some communities in our society simply rely on these packages to provide them with the basic amenities without paying a dollar in return for the services. If anything is taken back or cut from their benefits they use discrimination as the reason which backs governments into a corner.
It is however hard to overcome biases which exist due to political, religious or historical reasons amongst people. To create a multicultural environment one must first overcome any discrimination against others. But worldwide politics, religious influences and dwelling in the histories of the world incite stressors and conflicts amongst different cultures. The recent war on terror has created tension in the United States as different fronts are formed either in support of the terrorist groups or those who are fiercely against them. Ending Opinion Multicultural diversity fosters healthy relations amongst people of the world.
In today’s age, where we are increasingly exposed to people of different cultures and origins, we must embrace Multiculturalism as a fact of life, which is why it is becoming more and more popular in education and counseling. Multiculturalism helps us to take the best from each culture without losing the ingredient of our own to create a cultural dish which is both appealing and delicious. However, to create a multicultural society we must first abolish all the differences we perceive amongst each other and if not adopt the cultures of others, we must admit to their existence. Disability in the United States
Introduction to Disability: Definition and Classification As mentioned earlier, disability refers to the incapacity of people to conduct their daily businesses like others due to reasons which could be due to sensory impairment, cognitive or intellectual impairment, mental disorders (psychiatric impairments) and other types of chronic diseases. Disabilities can be inherent from birth or can manifest during one’s lifetime. Thus, disability could be said to be an eventual fate for all of us. Disabilities can be distinguished with respect to physical disabilities, mental disorders and chronic diseases.
But in truth they can be distinguished along 9 major parts which have been identified by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as: 1. Learning and applying knowledge 2. General Tasks and Demands 3. Communication 4. Mobility 5. Self-care 6. Domestic Life 7. Interpersonal interactions and relationships 8. Major life areas 9. Community, Social and Civic Life (World Health Organization) If an individual is unable to function along any of these domains then he is deemed to be disabled. The said domains have been established by the World Health Organization so can be mapped along any country.
However, the United States of America has its own working definition for what constitutes someone as being disabled. The definition set by the Social Security planner states that an individual is disabled if he fulfills 3 basic conditions for which he would be granted benefits. These three conditions are that:
- The individual must be unable to do the work he did before: if a farmhand loses an appendage and can no longer fulfill the tasks which were initially assigned to him, then under such a circumstance he would be labeled “disabled”.
- If an individual’s medical condition restricts him from taking up any other work: if the farmhand loses his arms then it would be very difficult for him to find any other work related to his area of expertise, or any job in general.
- If the disability is said to last one year or more or may eventually cause your death: losing one’s arms is a lifetime affliction as arms cannot grow back. So the farmhand would be entitled to all the benefits available to people who are disabled (Social Security, 2008). Disabled people in America gain special privileges thanks to the government’s regulations.
Disabled people receive payment as per their social security earnings; they get Medicare coverage for their expenses and also receive benefits in the manner of tax exemptions. So we can see that disabled people are provided protection in the financial sense. Most of their major costs are covered thanks to the government’s regulations and benefit plans. The Americans with Disability Act, last amended in 2008, provides the disabled of America legal rights and groundwork on which to file their papers and demand their rights (Americans with Disability Act, 2009).
The legal rights are strictly enforced regarding the disabled. When disabled people are registered they get specific attention from legal enforcers as the police response to the disabled is on a relatively higher priority than others. Similarly, they are entitled to parking spots located nearer to entrances and exits which make distances shorter for them to cover. Yet aside from all the benefits received from a legal standpoint, disabled leave a full life in America. They can participate equally in any event such as sporting events and any ceremonies.
There are separate sporting events for the disabled which are held at a grand scale similar to the Olympics. Also disabled people are not barred from gaining equal educational and occupational opportunities if they can qualify similar to those who aren’t disabled. American’s perception of the Disabled Disabled people have tendencies to be defensive regarding their situation. They are well aware of their difference from others so they are often perceived as being more sensitive and perceptive to their condition (Chin, 2004).
Disabled in society, even after getting equal opportunities often are deemed to get special previliges due to their conditions. The common man often taunts the disabled due to his condition and overlooks their misery as not being able to do the simplest tasks. Initially disabled people were offered solutions for each of their afflictions rather than uniting disabled people under one common category. People with polio were offered braces and people who were blind were offered seeing dogs and every problem was meant to be cured or lessened.
A problem with this approach was that it created distinctions between disabled people and they were apprehensive towards each other, when instead they should have rallied together to support and encourage each other (Switzer, 2003). This ideology of difference alienated disabled people and made them feel fewer than they originally were. Recently however, amendments have been made which give disabled people equal rights no matter what their disability. Be it a psychological disability or physical one disabled people are entitled to the same benefits and privileges available to any other.
Initially whenever disability was discussed the picture which came to everyone’s mind was of a physically handicapped individual. Yet the amendments made to the ADA have included chronic diseases and mental disorders as disabilities too. This revision has entitled people who develop diseases during the course of their life and which they weren’t born with since birth to avail the benefits entitled to other disabled people. Disability and Culture Having a disability is bad enough on its own, but if assistance and moral support is given then the disability can be overlooked.
If a person has difficulty driving anywhere, or in doing the simplest task, if he has a helping hand in the form of a relative or loved one then the disability would be overlooked (Angel, 1999). If a society’s culture provides disabled people with rights then naturally the disabled people can lead better lives. In barbaric societies when people became disabled and would become a burden on the society they would be executed. The belief that the disabled person is a burden on society is a belief which dates back to those days.
Even today there are people who perceive that disabled people are leading miserable lives and can never equal someone who aren’t physically handicapped. In the United States however, culture dictates that disabled people should be considered when any project is undertaken. For every development project such as architectural constructs and events invitations, provisions are made to accommodate the disabled of society. Building ramps for publicly accessible places is a specific conditionality which makes the admittance of disabled people evident.
Similarly there are numerous other measures which are legally enforced and show the cultural tolerance towards the disabled of our society. Prospects of Disabled in America Having a disability has never been an excuse in stopping people from progressing in the United States. Christopher Reeves, Stephen Hawking, and other key personalities have made their name even after being disabled. With the expansion of the ADA to incorporate recent afflictions such as Asthma, and other diseases has made it easier for disabled people to scrape a living in today’s society.
Disability advocates provide legal support to the disabled as they can now contest injustices done onto them due to their handicaps. Legal representation provides them with rights, which in turn means that they can stand on their own feet to accomplish their goals. Legal representation also acts as a barrier to others for discriminating against them. If they are faced with the risk of legal prosecution, naturally people become defensive against commiting injustices against disabled. Disabled people were initially discriminated against in occupational venues.
They had to try harder to get jobs as their handicaps worked as factors against them. Employers were wary of hiring people with disabilities as they were believed to provide less output as compared to other individuals. However, in the light of the ADA in 1992, employers had to face the music as they could no longer discriminate against such a minority. Similarly in the field of education, insurance and social administration disabled people faced a hard time. They could not get admissions easily or take out insurance policies at lower rates. They had to pay higher premiums and could barely make ends meet.
The ADA provided a safeguard for the minority and since it is constantly being revised to accommodate developing trends and values of the society. The United States outlook towards Multicultural Diversity and Disability The United States has the largest population of diverse cultures. It cannot afford to discriminate against any one social group over the other since to maintain peace and solidarity within its boundaries it must treat everyone equally. The politics of the state follow such a guideline and aim to create peace amongst the groups which could be hostile towards each other.
The policy adopted by the state is to promote Multiculturalism and diminish Cultural diversity. The purpose is that Cultural diversity aims at making people realize that they are different from others whereas Multiculturalism aims at removing differences. By providing a standardized syllabus in school and providing counseling to youngsters to be lenient towards different cultures, the United States has been able to not only benefit from all the different cultures by having diversified opinions and practices, but has also created an image of a welcoming state.
Immigrants who come to America know that they will be provided sanctuary no matter what their ideologies or beliefs. Disabled people, who are also a minority in the United States are provided with rights unparalleled by any other country. Even though they may be physically deficient as compared to others, they receive equal opportunities when hiring is taking place, admissions are being given out or invitations are passed around. Having a disability is no longer a barrier to career growth or any other such development process.
The United States has always provided its citizens with the image of a country which would not stop their growth and it is still maintaining such an image, even though the number of immigrants and disabled are greatly increasing. Any other country would have begun restricting the benefits dished out to these minorities but the United States has gone the exact opposite way and further helped out the cultural minorities. Conclusion America is a country which has people of differing races, but it is also a country which holds opportunity for every one of its citizens.
The United States has a multicultural perspective which promotes the rights of any citizen no matter what his background. This kind of perspective make the U. S. a melting pot of cultures and it is an example for all other countries which have difficulty in keeping peace between its inhabitants due to cultural differences. Not only is America a country which safeguards the rights of its cultural minorities but it also protects the rights of people who are disabled and cannot function similar to a fully healthy person.
Disabled people in America get privileges which regular people aren’t entitled to so that they do not have to face financial or economical problems. Not only are they given securities but they can also participate in activities which regular people take part in, such as gaining admissions into universities, attending sporting meets, and other social gatherings. Americans are living in a society which is multicultural and encourages the promotion of local minorities to lead active lifestyles. This paper displays the respect American society gives to people no matter what their heritage or physical condition may be.
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