The world consists of strong and weak both. And, naturally, the strong ones can use their authority however they like; often at the expense of the weak ones. Trauma is caused by undergoing a severe experience, which can totally shake up an individual. Different people respond to trauma in different ways; some get locked up in their silence, some get revengeful and defensive, while some wish to talk about it so that other people can know what they have been through. However individuals choose to deal with their trauma, it is bound to leave emotional scars that they often carry for very long; this can hinder their psychological, spiritual, and emotional development.
Diller (2014) states that trauma is an exceptional psychological experience that overwhelms the ordinary functioning of a human. Trauma does not just affect an individual alone; it also affects the people around him, because, trauma influences the way an individual deals and socializes with others. Sometimes, tribes, races, and nations as a whole undergo such traumatic experiences that it scars their whole community; and that does not end there. The scars and the trauma are transferred on to their generations. Examples of such traumatic experiences are the Jewish Holocaust and the Apartheid.
The German Nazis carried out mass execution of the Jews, which greatly traumatized and scarred the survivors. The Apartheid was a segregation of the black Africans from the white ones in South Africa; the blacks were considered filth, and treated as such. That explains the aggressive behavior of the blacks; the traumatic experience of their forefathers have made the blacks aggressive and defensive, which leads them to act violently, even without reason. They feel that they have been treated unfairly and unjustly, which gives rise to such aggression and violence, that, now, ironically, it is the whites who fear the blacks, rather than the other way round.
The trauma of their forefathers sometimes greatly confuses the present generations as they do not know how to deal with it. They are clueless as to whether they should move on and socialize with the generations of their forefathers’ oppressors, or take revenge. In some cases, the present generations blame their forefathers for letting themselves be oppressed and persecuted, and not taking a stand for themselves and their families. In addition to the oppressed, the oppressors also, in some cases, were traumatized by their own actions. It is argued that the oppressors were only following orders (Diller, 2014) to save their own, and they were also traumatized by the experience.
The generations of the oppressors also feel confused as to how to deal with the past of their ancestors. In some cases, they feel guilty for the unfair actions of their ancestors, and empathize with the oppressed generations; while, in others, they feel that they should not be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors. Although it is true that following generations should not be held responsible for the actions of the preceding generations, it is only natural for the following generations to feel the effects of their ancestors’ actions.
In the Apartheid, the blacks were not allowed to go to the same places as the whites. After the end of the Apartheid, things changed and both races started enjoying equal rights. So, the blacks could go to the same places as the whites; although it felt good to be treated justly, it also was a bit stressful to be in the company of the whites. Some whites who were against the Apartheid were happy that it was lifted, and that there was no unjust discrimination anymore; on the other hand, there were some prejudiced people who still looked at the blacks as though they were filth, and felt that the blacks had no right to intrude into the public spaces that were previously reserved for the whites. Such instances naturally affected the victims, and not in a good way. Native American men routinely suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder due to their treatment by the Whites (Diller, 2014).
European-Americans are future oriented, and they put a lot of effort into planning and controlling. They believe that they will not be able to achieve their goals if they do not plan it right. All they are concerned with is the future, and how to make it bright. On the other hand, Asian and Latino cultures are past present oriented; their history is considered a living entity, which continuously affects their present. They feel that their ancestors and their experiences influence the present reality. Then there are the Native Americans and African-Americans who are present oriented; they do not concern themselves with how they got where they are, or where they will reach if they act in a certain way. They focus on the here and now. These different approaches of various cultures can often cause conflict in the workplace.
European-Americans are obsessed with punctuality, being on time, and meeting with deadlines; other cultures such as Asian, Latino, Native American, and African-American find it hard to comprehend this White obsession. When non-Whites work in European-American institutions, they often show up late for work, or are unable to meet with deadlines; while it is just how the people of those culture are oriented, the Whites consider it as a sign of being lazy, indifferent, or irresponsible.
Another factor to consider while working with the populations of Native Americans and Asian-Americans is their family-oriented attitude. These cultures revolve around family life, and tend to have large families. Large families are a sign of strength, power, and pride. Large and extended families means that Native Americans and Asian-Americans have much more engagements as compared to the individualistic people of European and the American pop culture. More children means more basketball games, science fairs, sports days, debates, competitions, and other such activities. Being there for their families requires that the populations of these cultures take more time off work. While the Americans consider socializing and family engagements a waste of time and energy, it is an important aspect of life for Native and Asian-Americans.
According to Diller (2014), the Native and Asian-Americans feel that humans should live in harmony with nature, whereas the European-Americans believe that they are superior, and the environment and its resources have been created for the use of man. This attitude leads the European-Americans feel a need to control everything in their surroundings; on the other hand, Native and Asian-Americans tend to go with the flow.
Another factor that Diller (2014) pointed out is the cooperative attitude of the Native and Asian-Americans. European-Americans are taught to compete against each other and strive for great accomplishments, whereas the Native and Asian-Americans believe in cooperating with each, and working together to achieve goals. The European-Americans have an individualistic approach towards everything, whereas the Native and Asian-Americans have a collectivist approach, and strive to help each other. There are numerous differences in these cultures, and while a handshake in one culture signifies respect, it may signify a show of power and authority in another (Diller, 2014).
Asians are brought up to keep a control on their emotions; they are not very comfortable with public displays of emotions (Diller, 2014). With Asians, a slight nod is worth a thousand words. So, it is important to get familiar with the culture of the Asian-Americans before working with them. Respecting others and being respected by others is very important to Asians; a gesture which is considered humorous among European-Americans might be offensive to Asian-Americans.
With the most number of billionaires than any other country in the world, America boasts to be the land of abundance, and only a small percent of its population believes that poverty is a problem. Although it is the wealthiest country in the world, it is also home to millions of people who do not have sufficient food, decent living, access to medical care, good education, and other such necessities. There are more children living in poverty now than there were two to three decades ago; and, the number is rising (Mohan et al., 2007). The problem with poverty is that it breeds poverty; those who grow up in a poor family become poor adults, which is generational poverty. Generational poverty exists when a family has been in poverty for two generations or more (Mohan et al., 2007)
The problem is that poor people believe that they and their generations will always be poor, so, they do not strive to achieve a better living. The situation that an individual is born into affects his future; so, it is much more difficult for an individual of a poor family to achieve a better living as compared to an individual of a middle class family. If an individual belonging to a poor family is unable to get a proper and quality education, the chances of him achieving a better living are very low. To overcome poverty, an individual needs certain resources to help him out of that situation. But, when those resources are not available, breaking free from the shackles of poverty becomes quite difficult. Such families continue to live in poverty.
A woman’s looks are her greatest asset, and ageing can be a worrisome experience for her. A woman’s beauty lies in her youth, whereas a man’s grace lies in his grey hair and beard. Women are more likely to be conscious of their looks, and use cosmetics to cover up their signs of ageing than men. Looking ‘old’ is viewed more harshly for women across diverse cultures (Hatch, 2005). Women are valued for how they look, and men are valued for what they do. Despite all the hard and unpaid (bearing and rearing children, looking after the house and family) work that women do, they are not given the necessary acknowledgment.
Medicare is primarily aimed at dealing with acute illnesses. Women are prone to chronic illnesses, whereas men are more prone to acute illnesses. Hence, Medicare serves the needs of men more than it does the needs of women. Women tend to live longer than men that is why more women than men end up in nursing homes. Medicare fails to cover the long-term cost of caring for its female patients (Hatch, 2005). Entering a nursing home bankrupts the individuals with its high costs. These are the different challenges that women have to face.
Thanks to medical advancement, people are able to live longer now. However, it causes certain challenges to the elderly. Not everyone can manage to make investments while young so as to be self-sufficient in old age. In such cases, the elderly need a job so as to be able to care for themselves. There are certain factors to be considered when looking for a job. Because the elderly are of the previous generation, they are not as computer literate as the generation of the modern world. Their illiteracy with technology can cause a problem for them. On the other hand, the elderly are also more prone to falling ill, which can prevent them from getting employment. And, so long as they do not have the necessary funds, they cannot get medical treatment. Such are the challenges that the elderly have to face while trying to get employment.
No, I have always been sensitive to those who belong to the special populations. I do now have a greater understanding of historical trauma, complex factors that are involved in generational poverty, challenges women face through life stages, and factors working with Native Americans and Asian-Americans.
Diller, J. (2014). Cultural Diversity: A Primer for the Human Services. India: Cengage Learning.
Hatch, L.R. (2005). Gender and Ageism. Generations, 29, 19-24.
Mohan, T.N., Sartorio, J., Goldman, B., & Garcia, C.B. (2007) Poverty in America: born with a wooden spoon; welcome to poverty USA [Video tape]. (Available from Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences)
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