Cultural Competence: Which generation has no majority race?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Cultural Competence

From Dr. Wayne Baker: This summer, I have chosen guest writers to share some important viewpoints in OurValues. We begin this week with Joe Grimm, who wrote a series last year about bullying. Joe is a journalism professor at Michigan State University and editor of a new series of guides to cultural competence. Here’s a story about the start of this new MSU project. Here’s the first book in the MSU series. And—here’s Joe Grimm …

Which American Age Group Has no Majority Race?

CULTURAL COMPETENCE is rapidly becoming a valuable skill in business, education and public service. Michigan State University's School of Journalism is publishing a series of guidebooks on various ethnic and cultural groups. This is the first volume. Click the cover to learn more about the book.

CULTURAL COMPETENCE is rapidly becoming a valuable skill in business, education and public service. Michigan State University’s School of Journalism is publishing a series of guidebooks on various ethnic and cultural groups. This is the first volume. Click the cover to learn more about the book.

For years, we have known that one day the United States will no longer have a majority race.

That day is arriving for one age group. Do you know which one?

The U.S. Census Bureau reported this month that, in 2012, the proportion of minority children under the age of 5 had reached 49.9 percent. Given birth rates, it is likely that 2013 is the tipping point for that number to cross the halfway mark.

In many communities, if you want to get a look at the future, you will not see it at the grocery story or on main street—but in the schoolyard.

On Friday, OurValues showed a map that depicts how racially diverse our country has become. That map showed the largest minority groups by state. As our under-5-year-olds grow up, new maps will identify states in which minority groups make up the majority of the population overall. According to ThinkProgress, four states are already there: California, Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii.

Diversity is much more than race, of course. With that in mind, the Journalism School at Michigan State University and Read the Spirit have started a series of guides to cultural competence that will help us learn about our increasingly diverse nation.

This week, OurValues is encouraging a wide-ranging, civil conversation on these issues. I’ll return, each day, with four more columns in this series—each time sharing news and raising questions that may surprise you.
Today, please leave a comment below about …

Will today’s 5-year-olds build a more tolerant world?

Numerically, “minority” is increasingly inaccurate. What is a better term?

How can the nation get ready to leverage diversity as a strength?

Cultural Competence: Is your name a barrier … or a bridge?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Cultural Competence

From Dr. Wayne Baker: Please welcome Joe Grimm, a journalism professor at Michigan State University and editor of a new series of guides to cultural competence. Here’s the first book in the MSU series.
And—here’s Joe Grimm …

Middle-school journalism students in Unis Middle School in Dearborn Michigan. Photo by Joe Grimm, used by permission.

Middle-school journalism students at Unis Middle School in Dearborn, Michigan. Photo by Joe Grimm, used by permission.

Names can be barriers.

Until you know a person’s name and how to say it, you might hold them at the verbal equivalent of arm’s length.

It happens with people whose name you can’t remember. It happens if the name is unfamiliar. The barrier can be rooted in culture, language or religion.

When Living Textbook partner Emilia Askari and I began working with middle-school journalism students in Unis Middle School in Dearborn, Mich., we met a room full of people with names with which I had little familiarity. Most of the students there are Arab-American Muslims.

In my family, most people are named after relatives, saints or for qualities expressed in the names. Instead of Steven and Terry and Kyle, this class had Ali, Fatima and Khalil.

As an ice-breaker, I told the students my name and how I got it. I asked to hear the story of their names.

“My name is Khalil, and there are multiple reasons on why I have my name. First, my name means friend of God. Second, my uncle’s name is Khalil.”

“My name is Fatima. I was named that because it is the name of the prophet’s daughter. My name means the one kept away from evil and bad character.”

“My name is Ahmad. That name means praiseworthy. My dad named me that because his brother that died was named Ahmad, too. My name is also one of the many names of the prophet Mohammed.”

One student, named Mohammed, said that there are so many boys at that school with his name that when someone calls it, “half the school turns around.” Having grown up with a lot of people named after Saint Joseph, I understood immediately.

Names can be barriers, but they should be bridges.

sm MSU cultural competence guide cover 100 questions and answers about Indian Americans

Click the cover to learn more about the book.

Care to learn more about this? In “100 Questions About Indian Americans,” first in a series of guides by Read The Spirit and the Michigan State University School of Journalism, one of the issues that comes up is names.

Whose name presents a barrier to you?

Can you get closer to them by learning its story or pronunciation?

What names seem funny or odd to you? Do you know where they come from?

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Cultural Competence: Is Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Tonto offensive?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Cultural Competence
Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Photo courtesy of Disney.

From Dr. Wayne Baker: Our guest writer this week is Joe Grimm, a journalism professor at Michigan State University and editor of a new series of guides to cultural competence. Here’s Joe Grimm …

Tonto is upstaging the leading man in “The Lone Ranger.” The movie opens July 3.

Tonto is played by Johnny Depp, who some accuse of misappropriating Native culture.

Johnny Depp’s Tonto is less subservient than the old one, played on TV by Canadian Mohawk First Nations actor Jay Silverheels. For Disney, Tonto has been Depp-ified into a shirtless Indian who wears face paint and a black bird on his head. He still speaks broken English. But Depp’s Indian ancestry is slight and unclear.

Disney tried to get the cultural parts right, hiring a Comanche advisor and working with tribes. That is no guarantee of success, of course. Native people are divided. Some embrace Depp’s characterization. Some don’t.

Natanya Ann Pulley is in the Ph.D. fiction-writing program at the University of Utah and is half Navajo. She wrote “An Open Letter to Johnny Depp’s Tonto,” published in McSweeney’s. Pulley wrote, “My NDN friends love to smile. Love to laugh. And swear. And ham it up. …. I hope there’s more to you than the starkness of your white and black striped face. I hope you get an itch to step off that big screen and take a space in the world that doesn’t knock us back into shirtless whooping half-animal extras.”

Depp told Entertainment Weekly: “I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way to—” and Depp hesitated before adding, “Eliminate isn’t possible—but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout the history of cinema, and turn it on its head.”

In the end, however, the movie may be raising more old stereotypes than it demolishes. Gossip sites are saying the movie “has prompted Disney to offer a peace-pipe to Indian groups upset by the movie. Apparently nothing soothes the savage soul quite like money.” Others reference Indians being “on the warpath.” An upcoming guide in the Read the Spirit/Michigan State Journalism School series on cultural competence warns against such references.

When you see The Lone Ranger, how will you judge Depp’s portrayal?
Can actors portray other cultures competently? Should they?
Do people get to own the way their culture is portrayed?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW:

YOU CAN HELP (a note from Joe Grimm): I’m especially interested in responses to this third column in this week’s series, because our MSU team is working on publishing a volume in our guidebook series about Native Americans. Please, take a moment and share your thoughts on today’s questions. You’re shaping an important discussion here …

Cultural Competence: Do you see yourself in biracial Cheerios family?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Cultural Competence

From Dr. Wayne Baker: Our guest writer this week is Joe Grimm, a journalism professor at Michigan State University and editor of a new series of guides to cultural competence. Here’s Joe Grimm …

How about a little controversy in your bowl of Cheerios? A commercial depicting a mixed-race family in which the daughter, off camera, pours Cheerios on her sleeping father set off a wave of protests that seemed to have been drowned out by the backlash, according to AdWeek.

The website Racialicious reports that negative comments prompted a closing of the comments on the video, although people rushed to support mixed races eating breakfast.

Comedians posted a YouTube parody.

Cheerios stood by its depiction of families eating oat loops.

Support for that portrayal reflects Americans’ growing acceptance of biracial families. That seems to tie into the upcoming book by Wayne Baker on core American values, which he started to raise the curtain on in his June 21 column.

According to a Pew analysis of U.S. Census data, about 15 percent of all new marriages in 2010 were between people of different races or ethnicities. In 1980, the figure was less than half of that. Of course, that means more of us live in more diverse families. Every marriage changes families for dozens. Pew reported that more than a third of Americans say that an immediate or close relative is married to someone of a different race.

The Pew study found that almost two thirds of Americans say it’s fine with them if someone in the family marries outside their racial or ethnic group. When we want to learn more about cultures—however we choose to define that—we don’t have to look as far. Sometimes, the answers are just across the breakfast table.

The Read the Spirit/Michigan State Journalism School series on cultural competence is meant to help with groups who are not at the breakfast table.

Is your family becoming more diverse? In what ways?

How does having more diversity in the family increase cultural competence?

Do you talk about your similarities formally or informally?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW

Cultural Competence: Can a Buddhist monk be an anti-Muslim Bin Laden?

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Cultural Competence
TIME magazine cover Buddhist Terror cover July 1

Click the cover to learn more about the story.

TIME features “the Burmese bin Laden” this week. TIME is reporting on U Wirathu, a monk in a peaceful religion who advocates violence against Muslims—the same tool Osama bin Laden used on behalf of Muslims. (No, the TIME cover at right isn’t what you received at home this week in the U.S. edition; this is TIME’s Asian edition.)

Islam is the world’s second largest religion, after Christianity. Buddhism is fourth. (See our December story about the world’s religious populations.) In Myanmar, formerly know as Burma, Muslims are in the minority and Wirathu says they threaten Burmese nationality. Muslims and Buddhists have been attacking each other there.

Before the magazine was on newsstands, Buddhists criticized it, posting on Facebook mock versions of the Asian cover—with the word “Boycott” added in protest.

The Washington Post quoted political analyst Yan Myo Thein as saying, “Some people misunderstood the title … seeing it as an insult to religion. They believe it’s equating Buddhism with terrorism.”

Wirathu, shown in red robes in the TIME article, responded to it by saying, “A genuine ruby will shine, even if you try to sink it in mud.”

Some say images of country and religion are being confused and condemned.

The TIME article said, “Every religion can be twisted into a destructive force poisoned by ideas that are antithetical to its foundations. Now it’s Buddhism’s turn.”

The problem in gaining cultural competence is that there is no singularly authentic cultural experience. Everyone is a mix of ethnicity, religion, politics, race, family and more. Learning from one person is just the barest beginning. The Read the Spirit/Michigan State University guides to cultural competence use a 100-question format to open that door. But they are just the start.

Can one separate culture, religion or nationality from the others?

Is religion violent, or does politics make it seem that way?

Does the image of Islam change when it becomes the target of violence?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW: