How can we live in a Multicultural Society?


Hello and welcome to the show, Culture Chat. You’re here today with me, Marquita Byrd and Arjun Buxi, my partner, and we here talking about Cultural differences in the United States. We’re having a show in order to aid the discussion not just among ourselves, but also in the general American population because these are things that are pressing our country and way and things that could reduce our productivity. Absolutely, one of the reasons we started this show, Marquita and I, we’re both professors at the university, we both teach cultural subjects and topics, and it’s hard to live in a multi-culture society, just day-to-day, just a regular life day-to-day, when you have so many people that you meet everyday who are of different mindset than you, different background, maybe grew up in a different country. And so those kind of things, as Marquita alluded earlier, can cause problems in a workplace, productivity goes down. In regular life, in your family life, in your neighborhood, your potential as a human being can be somewhat stunted, because of the kinds of friendships you have to go through, the kind of relationships you go through, just buying coffee in the morning, and so that’s one of the reasons why we brought this up, the challenges of living in multi-culture society. Exactly! We have things going on in the United States right now, where which have always been going on, where people are moving from community to communities, communities are changing in their ethnic nature. We have racial strife in our public School systems, and of course we have it on the streets of America, and it can destroy the very fabric of our democracy. So, this is an opportunity for us to do something to help to reduce that friction of living in this multi-cultural United States. We’re in a period of great change in the United States and we want to be a positive force in that change. Absolutely, and one of the things this change that we are referring to is the growing demographic evolution of our society, many of us may have heard that by the year 2050, that many cultures and ethnicities that are considered the minority today will not be so anymore, and that can cause some alarm, but we shouldn’t have to feel that as a cause for alarm. We should see that as a cause for taking an opportunity. Exactly, and just to give you some statistic to support that, by 2050, the U.S. Status Bureau projects that the average American will be from anywhere other than Europe. European Americans in the United States will only be 49%, that African-American will be at 15%, Hispanics are projected to be at 25% and Asian and Pacific Islanders at about 8%. So, that’s a great change in the face of the country, the face of the population physically, and that frightens people. They’re going to have to do things in a new way, and we want to help prepare the road for that new America. Exactly, so well said. And so as you said earlier, this is not just a culture show,but a communication show, and so what if we want to help the two of us as professors who teach courses such as for myself, I teach Intercultural Communication and also for many years, I have done private workshops with people as far off as Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and alike, and Marquita has done a lot of similar work herself. Yes, I’ve been working in the field of communication, culture and diversity for about 30 years now, as I’ve taught at San Jose state. I also have a text book on Intra-culture communication, specifically with diversity and communication within the United States, and I teach these courses, I also do workshops and trainings for county agencies, and government agencies, and non-profits, where they’re interested in helping their multicultural workforce and clientele work together better. Exactly, and so that’s the point folks, we’re trying to bring a different kind of perspective here and more so, more than that, we’re trying to bring some communicative solutions. Say for example, understanding the idea, I love this phrase you used Marquita, maybe you can elaborate on it that humans are a variation on a theme. Yes, yes, thank you for reminding me of that, yes. We are coming from the perspective that, we understand that very often when people do cross cultural training and they do diversity training, and we use diversity lightly that sometimes we focus more onto the diversity than similarities, and we go through as human beings, we go through life making sure that who’s different, who’s in and who’s out, and the fact is, our perspective is that human beings, or groups of people, or only variations on the theme of being human. In other words, we all have very similar issues that we deal with because we’re human beings, for example, we’re all biological units and we all have basically the same needs. Abraham Maslow talks about five needs and we can talk about physiological needs. All of us have those, which means that we need certain things to survive as human beings. We need shelter, we need food, we need clean water, we need air, then all groups of people have security needs which is a need to feel safe from physical harm, it could be financial harm, it could be a social harm, but we want to stay safe. All groups of human beings need have belonging need, all human beings need to be affiliated with other human beings, and to have positive affinity in those groups. All of us then need positive self esteem. All human beings want to have positive regard for themselves and they want other people to have positive regard of them, and lastly, all groups of people are working towards self actualization. Which means to work to reach all of your potential and of course that is an ideal, none of us ever reach all of our potential, but we’re working on it. And so when I talk to you, when I talk to Arjun, he talks to me, we keep in mind that we’re working on having our needs met, and the thing is that, different groups of people may have different ways of answering those needs and that’s what we get stuck on, that we are not all doing it the same way, but we have to remember that we’re working on the same issues. Absolutely, so well said. And so just the same way as Marquita was explaining, how we have so many similarities and things that we hold in common, and equal but opposing force that pulls at it which we call in communication, a dialectic, an equal but opposing force that pulls at it is our differences and so that would be encompass in our cultural expression. Culture by the way, what is it? It is the things that we hold in common as groups of people. It includes things such as norms, values, our senses of right and wrong, traditions, things that are passed from one generation to another, and beliefs, things that we hold dearly to be true to ourselves, and finally of course, you have your cultural artifacts so your clothing, your foods, and things of that nature, culture, music, anything like that. So then, when expression and means of talking, and means of understanding are so varied in people that might for other reasons be very similar, that is what creates the root of conflict, and so this is the kind of discussion that Marquita and I hope to have. People that are similar, sameness and difference pulling at each other, and yet, we are finding ways to look around and see for a minute, who are all these strangers around me, people that I recognize as humans, similar to me and yet they’re culturally different, and I feel for a moment as if there is a stranger in front of me. Yes, yes and of course that could be very disconcerting when you are looking within your nation. We want people who are Americans for example to look ”American” and from the studies we found that, we tend to think of white people and black people as being Americans, but nobody else. And so, we got to go to these, we’re Americans, we have shared values, we’re working towards that same things. Absolutely, and so a parting thought that we could think of, an aspiration if you will is that, in the end, the metaphor that I like for this is an orchestra, we’re all musical instruments. As long as we don’t drown each other out, as long as each instrument plays its tune to its highest potential, but still with some hope of harmony and trying to work together, that sameness, that difference, that cultural expression, and yet, those common needs can all work together to a powerful social good. So folks, if you enjoyed the show today, do follow us on social media. We’re on Twitter at @culturechatshow. If you like the video, you can hit Like, the same button for it. If have something to say, talk to us in the comments, we’d love to hear from you. And maybe you can subscribe to our channel so you can catch all our upcoming videos when they’re uploaded. Well, that’s it for today, thank you for joining us and thank you Dr. Byrd.

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