Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5

The disparity of power and privilege in the United States between dominate and ethnic minority groups

Submitted by: Liliana C Duran

Intercultural Communication 2150-002 Dr. Marlin R. Clark February 12th, 2104

The disparity of power and privilege in the United States between dominate and ethnic minority groups

The United States of America is seen for many (especially for those living outside of it) as a Dreamed Land because of its values and the many opportunities the so called American Dream represents. But when we take a closer look at these values and beliefs, is equality itself part of the list of the American values? To answer this question is important to first, determine the concept of a cultural value; in her book Negotiating Globally, Jeanne M. Brett determines a cultural value is a judgment of what is important in social interactiona judgment shared by a group and she recognizes a particular cultural value debate present in the American Culture: Hierarchy versus Egalitarianism. As proved in his Hierarchy in America: Natural versus Artificial essay, for Prof. Kevin G. Lorentz II (Professor of Political Science) hierarchy represents a fundamental part of Americas society. He states that this hierarchical value is evident even in every single aspect of our lives: we are constantly constrained within the limits of an established hierarchical structure, be it professional, societal, or even personal, then he goes on, describing the reasons for defending this statement, using contemporary examples of it.

Based on this statement we can now start to define which cultural groups form part of this hierarchy. Generally speaking, there are two levels of group-related power: the primary dimensions (age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, race and sexual orientation) and the secondary dimensions (educational background, geographic location, marital status and socioeconomic status). Both dimensions play an important role when it comes to define which group has more power and privileges, it also depends on the lenses we use and the context we take into consideration. Culturally speaking and as the simplest way to generally divide cultural American society, we can say the United States is divided in two main cultural groups: majority (dominate) and ethnic minority groups.

Lets understand ethnicity as the factor or state of belonging to a particular social group that has a common national or cultural tradition. If its true the United States has a very diverse population, and after years of many cultural changes that have taken place in history, its major and dominant group are still the White Americans. American History has shown that being born in the United States of America does not necessary implies all benefits will apply, and even when those days of racial and ethnic discrimination have been left behind (in theory) we can still talk about the white privileges. Some of these privileges may go from really simple things, like receiving better treatment than an African American at a restaurant, to really notorious preferences in determinant life situations, like giving the companys presidency to the White American applicant instead of the Asian applicant, even if he is better prepared than the rest of the applicants. Peggy McIntosh investigated and listed some of the everyday life activities in which racial discrimination is implied, things like going to the supermarket, watching TV or going to school seem to be affected for this problem. One of the reasons of a dominant cultural group having access to some privileges or being seeing in a different way than others dont, is the power that this particular group has here in the United States. But, who has the power of the United States? According to G. William Domhoff: those who have the money. In his book Who Rules America? Domhoff explains how the White American land-owners and business-owning class has now the power in this country; the simple reason of it is that there is no other power network that has grown from USA history but the economic one. However the fact that those who have the money have the power, means the social upper class has the power that controls the United States, not the White American Ethnic majority, so that makes us think, why do they have privileges over ethnic minorities than, if not all of them belong to this Social Upper Class? In his book, Domhoff states: Domination by the few does not mean complete control, but rather the ability to set the terms under which other groups and classes must operate.

From that statement, we understand then that those who have the power, even though they are a minority, set terms and conditions under which other social classes and different ethnic groups coexist. So from a cultural and ethnic point of view, if the majority of the Social Upper Class are White Americans, that specific set of rules on which we all now live are set to privilege the ethnic White American group, and by doing so, guaranty and reinforce their power in this country. How minorities are affected by this rules, and as mentioned before, can be almost countless and in many different ways, coming from the simplest things to more complex situations, and we would need to take the experiences from each individual that takes part of a minority ethnic group to list them all. We should not forget that within those minorities, there are not only ethnic differences but also different sub-groups determined by our gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, etc; each of them affected not only by prejudice but also discrimination in so many other direct or indirect ways too. We are far from talking about EQUALITY as one of the American values. But the future looks brighter, history shows that even when it takes time, America has been able to overcome racism and many other cultural problems. The fact that the cultural diversity in the United States has increased within the last few years, because of this diversity change, newer generations are more open to it and for that, less judgmental and racist. Changes like legalizing same-sex marriages in seventeen states (by January 2014) help people to become more accepting, tolerant and open-minded toward others. The need of making global business has also make big improvements in multicultural communication by preparing people to face multicultural challenges. All this point to the idea that one day, there will be no such thing as white, men, or any other kind of particular privileges, and everyone will benefit from the same exact rights. And when it comes to power, as Thomas K Nakayama and Judith N. Martin point in their book Intercultural Communication in Contexts, we must remember it is not a one-way preposition, power is dynamic and can be maintained or resisted by several means, there will always more than one way to negotiate power.

G. William Domhoff: Who Rules America? Jeanne M. Brett: Negotiating Globally. Thomas K. Nakayama and Judith N Martin: Intercultural Communication in Contexts. Kevin G. Lorentz II essay: Hierarchy in America: Natural versus Artificial. Peggy McIntosh essay: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack.

Internet sources:
United States Census Bureau