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    Diversity Awareness Essay (1160 words)

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    Diversity AwarenessBilly J. Dycus, Jr. Debra MooreSW 322September 29, 1999Differences in our society are many, including age, religion, physical andmental abilities, gender, sexual orientation, income, family or social status, andphysical appearance. Anyplace where differences are found leaves room forstereotypes. Stereotypes are generalizations about people usually based on inaccurateinformation or assumptions rather than facts.

    (Wei, 1996) Stereotypes do not takeinto account the great diversity of people within a group of people. Nor dostereotypes consider the present circumstances of the individual. Even worse,stereotypes can lead to prejudicial or discriminatory behavior. Most of the observations I made concerning my stereotypypical behaviorcircled around rich people, foreigners, and the elderly.

    All the reasons I havedeveloped generalizations for these groups are because of my limited contact withmembers of these groups. The first group that I have noticed I stereotype more than others are what Iconsider rich people. Ole Miss and Oxford has an over abundance of these peoplewhich has led me to distance myself even farther from them. I believe that all richpeople are arrogant and that they always look for ways to down people of a lowersocioeconomic status. I think most of these generalizations that I have concerningthis group evolve from my personal experiences with students at Ole Miss. I am from a family that struggles to make it week to week and cannot affordto help out with my college expenses.

    Ole Miss, from what I have observed, catersto the rich and provides no support for those not fortunate enough to labelthemselves as rich. I find it hard to relate to students that are fortunate enough tohave their parents pay for their living and schooling expenses. My generalizationsof this group come from the rich at Ole Miss because the majority of students thatcome from money are almost always in Greek life, drive cars nicer than those ofmyself or my family, wear nice clothes, and hang out in clich?s. My hometown isnothing like the Oxford community; almost everyone in my hometown works intrade industries which never allow one to live a lavish life.

    For every arrogant rich person there is a caring philanthropist that helpspeople like me and does not flaunt their money. Although the generalizations Ihave formed about rich people will be hard to disown, I think that they shoulddisappear with more contact with members of this group. (Husain, 1996) I alsobelieve that once I graduate from college and become acquainted with rich peopleoutside of Oxford, I will form new opinions of them. The second group that I often stereotype are the Asian students at Ole Miss. It seems that wherever you go around campus you never see them with people ofdifferent ethnic backgrounds.

    I often see them as antisocial individuals that spendall their time in the library. I have not been around many Asians and how Iperceive them is through the few that attend Ole Miss. I believe that culture has a lot to do with why I formed the generalizationsof Asians. The media often notes that Asians are academically superior toAmericans.

    Members of the Anglo and African American ethnic groups oftenagree that Asians are less than we are to try to gain stature upon one group. I alsonoted that whenever I went to work, went out, or went to church that there werenever any Asians to be found. However, whenever you enter the Ole Miss campusor the library you can find them everywhere. Being that I am a college student, thecollege can be viewed as part of my culture. There are many Asians that enjoy life outside of academia and carry ownsocial lives with people outside their ethnicity.

    (Cort?s, 1979) The limitedpopulation of Asians at Ole Miss only leads to broad generalizations of this groupbecause there is no chance of interaction in my hometown. There are also Asiansthat struggle through college much like there are Americans that struggle throughcollege. The third group that I notice I generalize is elderly people. I have hadlimited contact with members of this group due to the way America looks at itselderly.

    My generalizations of this group include a lot of generalizations that mayother Americans hold. I look at elderly as being old and not capable of performingin a constructive manner. I generalize them all to be living off the Social Securitythat I have paid in. I also think that they all just ramble about insignificantthoughts.

    Many elderly are very capable of performing in many aspects of life. Thereare many elderly that work, travel, and engage in serious talk. Many elderly alsohave valuable knowledge that they have acquired throughout their life. The mediaagain plays a part in the generalizations that I hold about elderly. Generalizations are often times based upon ignorance about a certain groupof people based on limited exposure, heresy, media, and various other sources.

    Ithink that as long as there are people of different backgrounds, there will bestereotypes and generalizations. By evaluating the reasons an individual holdsthese beliefs about others, researchers can find ways to teach people about variousgroups. I think that if I were to work in a field such as social work, I would have themost trouble working with individuals with the AIDS virus. I do not feel that Iharbor any negative generalizations towards AIDS patients as a whole; however,the terminality of a life with AIDS does scare me. Researching the topic of AIDShas prompted me to believe that AIDS will touch the professional lives of almostall social workers before they retire.

    (Shernoff, 1990)The number of cumulative AIDS cases in the United States alone by the endof 1989 was estimated to exceed 100,000, and, by the end of 1991, between300,000 to 400,000. It is estimated that there are more than 1. 5 million people inthe United States infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (Heyward &Curran, 1989), and this number is still growing. Whole families of intravenousdrug users are becoming infected and dying (Leery, 1989; Williams, 1989);orphaned children with AIDS languish in inner-city hospitals; gay men die; elderlyparents grieve for sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters; and agencystaffs are immobilized by the illness of a social work colleague repeatedlyhospitalized for one opportunistic infection after another.

    No setting in any regionof the United States will be spared by the pandemic of AIDS that will continueinto the next century, according to all the best estimates. I think the best way to tackle the issues of working with an AIDS patientinvolves resolving my own conflicts. The fact that AIDS is a terminal disease isprobably the biggest reason I would have a problem working with theseindividuals. Death in itself is a topic that I do not like to ponder and I must cometo terms with this if I want to work in any field that involves social counseling. Ialso believe the risk of getting AIDS is a chance I would not like to take no matterhow small the chances are.

    I do not think literature would help me overcome thisconflict. I believe that if I come to terms with the aspects of death and dying then Iwould be able to better work with this group.Sociology Essays

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