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The study will focus on two minority cultures in the United States. In order to present the minority culture well the first section of this essay will thoroughly focus on the lifestyles, values, religion, education and other cultural aspects of the two groups. The second section will discuss the similarities and disparities between the two cultures. The third section will examine ways in which the information gotten from this study could be applied in a classroom setting. The two minority cultures that I have chosen for this study are the Hispanics and African American cultures.
The purpose of this study is to understand the Hispanics and African Americans way of life, such information is important because it helps one to cope well with members of the African Americans and Hispanics cultures without undermining their beliefs and culture. I will seek information on education, religion and other aspects of culture. The two groups represent a considerable part of the American population hence the information will be important since one encounters the two groups cultures on a day to day basis. The information will also be important in a class setting since it is highly desirable for promoting learning and building social relationship between students. The information will also be useful to the institution because with diverse knowledge of other cultures, the learning environment is conducive since most students are aware that the institution values the diversity of its members.
The term minority refers to the cultural group numbers and the disadvantages that they face in regard to their socio economic status. According to the US census bureau (2006) the African Americans made up 14% of the total American population, the Hispanic and Latinos were 15.4%. The social economic status of these groups is lower than that of the whites. Costas (1983) argued that most of the Hispanics have been damned to be the eternal underclass of the North American Society together with the blacks. 27 years later this is still the case though their living conditions of the Hispanics and African Americans have improved.
The Hispanics population has been growing tremendously in the United States. The Population Reference Bureau (2010) revealed that Latinos/ Hispanics make up an increasing share of the Unites States population. There have been many projections that this group might become one of the largest minority groups in the United States in the near future. Most of the Hispanics live in Florida, New York, Texas and California. The Mexicans are the largest ethnic subdivision of Hispanics in the United States followed by Puertoricans, Cubans and other Hispanics. Hispanics are a diverse population which has connections to the Spanish language or culture. The Hispanics mostly use the Spanish language for communication. Costas (1983) argued that the aggravated lives of the Hispanic are made worse by their inappropriate communication skills because they use Spanish. They have connection with Spanish speaking countries. The group name however is being changed to Latinos and this new name has gained worldwide acceptance among the Hispanics. The term Latino shows the origin of the Hispanic population in Latin America.
The Hispanics are a group which is closely knit and a very crucial social unit/ they use the term familia which is used to refer to an extended family; the term transcends the nuclear family. Among the Hispanics a family unit is used to describe not just parents and children but also the extended family. In a Hispanic household the father is the head of the family while the mother caters for the household duties. Every member of the family has a moral accountability to assist other family members in case of any problems. It is very common to find relatives of Hispanics living with them in case the relative has gone to the city to study or for a short visit like a vacation. The Hispanic families usually gather together during holidays, graduations, weddings and other social functions. The children from Hispanic families have very good manners and respect for authorities value which are instilled in them while very young. They highly value education. Longerbeam et al (2003) argued that most Latino students embrace diversity and were more likely to take a job while still in college. Most Hispanics tend to preserve the Hispanic language in their homes. Romero (2004) argued that Hispanics have not wholly acculturated the American culture.
The Hispanics have a very formal way of treating each other. A very common practice among these people is a firm handshake when greeting someone or taking leave. Women hug each other on the cheek or hug lightly as a form of greeting. The Spanish language usually has informal and formal ways of address. Informal conversations are usually fast and loud and are mostly accompanied very many gestures and body language to better articulate points. The Hispanic greatly value their looks and appearances. They wear formal attires to church, work and social gatherings. The Hispanics have a heavy foreign accent and as a result they are reserved about speaking publicly. The Hispanics are very religious and the largest percentage is Roman Catholics. The affairs of individuals and communities are influenced by religion which gives spiritual meaning to the Hispanic culture. The Hispanics value the national holidays and they celebrate them widely, the most recognized are New Year day, Christmas Eve, Easter and Christmas. When it comes to eating habits, lunch is usually the most important meal of the day, the breakfast is usually very light, lights snacks are taken in the evening and a small supper concludes the day's meal.
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African Americans usually have various skin tones which range light to dark. They also have different hair types which range from straight hair to very curled hair. Most African Americans are Protestants; the second prevalent religion is Muslim. Most of the African Americans are Baptist Christians, in many conversations with the African Americans the word of God usually come up. The people also attend the church on Sundays and Wednesdays for bible study. Most homes and communities view the church as a center focal point. Harris (1994) argued that religion among the African Americans serve as a psychological and organizational resource for individuals and collective political action.
The culture of African Americans is very complicated and most of it is derived from the African Ancestors. African Americans are usually present in most states in the United States. Most of the live in urban areas and major cities, most people bear the stereotype that they are uneducated, rude, criminals, unattractive and loud among other negative stereotypes. This is revealed in Black Magic movie by Gabbard (Reid, 2007). The family structure of this group comprises of the grandparents, aunts, children, uncles, and mothers. It is usually an extended unit and some of these families do not usually have fathers. The households are headed by the grandmother while the mother and the father cater for the children, the parents are responsible for disciplining their children and offering them advice and guidance. The mother is usually seen as the immediate care taker of the household. Most of African American women are single who have never been married but have kids. These women are very caring and nurturing, they work on more than one job a day to sustain their families. African American children are usually street smart and are very athletics (Humpries & Jagers, 2009); most famous athletes in the United States are blacks. Most African American attain college education and pursue their careers, they greatly exploit their talents. The family is a very important social unit among the people. The entertainment review on the African American Culture Series by Miller (2010) reveals the importance of the family in the African American group.
African Americans also place a very high importance on music; music is used as a form of expression (Milner, 2006). Most famous artists come from the African American group. There are awards which are held yearly to recognize the artists who are most talented.
The two groups are similar in that they are the largest minority groups in the United States. The Hispanics are more than the African Americans. Their socio economic status is also low and they do not have higher incomes and higher standard of living like the whites. The two are similar in that their family structure is extended. They two are also very religious. Both groups have also gone through many hardships to enter America; most people have been assisted by African Americans through the hardship the race has experienced, the Hispanics have also gone through the same experience.
The two groups are different in that the Hispanics speak Spanish while African Americans speak English. The skin tone of the two groups is also different; African Americans have a darker tone while the Hispanics have a lighter skin color. The father is an important member in the Hispanic family and he is the head of the family while in the African American family it is the grandmother who heads the household. The Hispanics treat each other in a formal and informal manner while the African Americans treat each other an informal manner. The Africans are more educated than the Hispanics. Although both the minority groups have low standard of living the Hispanics are well off than the African Americans. Their incomes are higher than those of the African Americans as revealed by the census bureau 2006.
SECTION 3: The information obtained on Hispanics and African Americans would be very useful in a classroom setting. It would be important since the students are able to understand the diverse needs of all cultures. There is an increase in cultural diversity of the American school and thus such information is important because understanding the diverse cultures would enable the students to deal well with students from the minorities groups. It would also enable student to have an increased attentiveness in acknowledging and addressing the issues of diversity; this would help in overcoming the challenges posed by the diverse composition of students in a classroom. Students from minority groups may be isolated and their opportunities for interacting with other children may be limited, incorporating such information in the curriculum would ensure that the modern education classroom set up is highly desirable for promoting learning as well as building social relationship between students.
Using such information instructors can enable teachers to build on students' strength regardless of their ethnic or racial groups; this can have a positive result in empowering students from minority groups as well as other students. Students can also make use learning materials whose content mirrors the family arrangements and cultures of the minority groups. This information would also help in ameliorating racism by providing equity of opportunity to learn about other groups' cultures. Every student usually has the need to belong and the feeling of lack of community may lead to bad grades and bad schooling experience leading to school dropouts. This can be reorganized and improved by incorporating cultural information in the classroom setting. Finally this information would help the learning institutions to achieve its goals by ensuring a learning environment that supports and values the diversity of its members.