Living In A Multicultural Society

Everyone tells you that you grow when you get to college – that it’s a life changing experience you’ll never forget. So far, I definitely have to agree.

Over the past few months, I have developed a stronger sense of what it means to live in a multicultural society. I have always viewed different ethnic and racial groups equally, but I have never given it much thought as to what it meant to be from a culture other than my own. As much as I hate to admit it, I have been living with a much more narrow mind than I had ever anticipated. And apparently, so have many of our peers.

Now, you may be reading this and thinking “Uh, this girl is crazy, Cal Poly is not very diverse – where is she having these eye opening experiences?” But, even though our student body may be lacking with the whole ‘representing different cultures’ thing, there are many courses that bring current and historical culture issues into their discussions.

Actually, the focus of many of my classes this quarter is to bring more attention to the cultural biases we all have, and also, the mistreatment of others that results from it. My professors have brought up many instances where our society has belittled, or acted cruelly, towards a minority group in our country. The argument of many tends to be that “it is all in the past” – but is it truly not happening today? If everything has only happened in our society’s history, why are these topics coming up in conversations and debates about current issues?

I have recently taken a few of the Harvard Implicit Tests (take your own here) and learned a lot about my personal unconscious biases and preferences towards different groups of people. The tests rely on a person’s unconscious reflexes to respond to a series of pictures to reveal a result that can be surprising. The test can be very beneficial; it can serve as way to point out where a person may be having an underlying reason for mistreating others.

However, even if we can admit to having these cultural preferences or biases, this does not give us the right to act upon them in negative ways. During my first few months at Cal Poly, I have heard countless racial slurs that I would have expected high school freshmen to say – not educated college students. Some of these insulting statements are even being “up-voted” on the popular app Yik Yak, which only seems to prove that cultural prejudices are very much alive in our town. Our generation is always quick to say that we support equality and living in a world without racism, yet we continue to feed into the epidemic by posting cruel comments to make ourselves seem “cool.” This is just one instance of one type of prejudice:

Whether we are conscious of our biases or not, we need to be aware of the comments we are making and who they may be affecting. Basically, the “funny” racial and ethnic jokes need to stop.

As the “Best in the West” University, shouldn’t we be boosting each other up instead of making degrading comments towards one another? We live in a society made up by many cultures, and it’s time to act like it.