September 25, 2007
Racial and Cultural Identities
Interview Reflective Essay #1
My most significant values and beliefs all come from my parents, relatives, and my church; while some of these values were further emphasized by my teachers and other adults that I came in contact with over the course of my life my parents, the church, and close relatives were the ones who really imparted their wisdom and beliefs unto me. From an early age I was taught the value of a good education, hard work, and honesty. I was taught that helping others was a noble thing to do, and that I should treat others the way I wished to be treated.
I learned these values through close observation of my parents. They were always calm and courteous to others, even if the people they were dealing with weren’t always polite to them. Both of them emphasized my education by working with me on homework, helping me study for tests, and even grounding me when I was older for getting a grade lower than a B- on a report card. Things that I wanted weren’t just given to me most of the time. I would have to do chores around the house or baby sit to buy the things that I wanted.
My mother is a teacher so I grew up watching her try to come up with new ways to help her students understand concepts and processes. Some days she would come home late because she would have to stay after school to help some students who didn’t fully understand what she was going over in class. For these reasons, and my love of learning I have chosen to become a teacher so that I can hopefully try and instill some of the values that she and my dad have taught me.
I am personally affiliated with a white, upper middle class, Catholic cultural group. I associate myself with these groups because of my skin color, socioeconomic background, and religious beliefs. While there are other groups that I could include myself with, these are the ones that I feel are most prevalent in my life. My heritage and where my family comes from has never played a major role in my life other than certain personality traits that I have considered Irish.
For me, being associated with these cultural groups means that I am part of the dominant society. Because of the color of my skin I am not looked at a followed when I go into a store to shop. People do not single me out as prone to violence or a bad attitude. There are definitely not as many stereotypes about white people as there are about African Americans, Asian Americans, or Hispanics. When a member of a minority group is being taught to act “proper” they are told to act “white.” My skin color alone ensures that people do not judge me harshly upon sight and the large majority of society does not discriminate against me.
My middle class background has ensured that I have always lived in a safe neighborhood with a good school system. I have been given more opportunities to see and experience life in places other than my own state because my parents’ jobs allow us the money and leisure time to take family vacations. As a result of their hard work I do not have to worry about paying for college like many of my classmates do because my parents are paying my undergraduate tuition. Being middle class has given me many opportunities.
Being Catholic has instilled values in me that I believe some of my friends do not have. My religion means that almost anywhere I choose to go will have a church and people with similar beliefs and values to my own. To me, being a Catholic means that I will always have a connection to God and my fellow man.
In the first section of the interview I discussed where I was from and what my values were. I realized that I have lived a very sheltered life so far. While I have lived in some diverse areas, for the most part the people and backgrounds I have been exposed to are very similar to my own. White, upper middle class, educated people have for the most part dominated my schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces; living in Boston has really given me my first taste of diversity.