Race and culture are not synonymous, although they each can be very emotional and sometimes scary concepts to talk about for different reasons. Instead of avoiding talking about race and culture in the environment and thereby engaging in hurtful practices unintentionally, it is more useful to analyze the organization’s philosophy about race and culture in the workplace.
Discussions about race and culture continue to be difficult, even in the face of our growing knowledge about the need to address such issues.
The Linguistics of Diversity
While the terms “race” and “culture” are often implied when one is speaking about issues relating to diversity or inclusion, it is important to separate these terms from the broader definitions in order to provide a meaningful context from which the issues presented in this briefing can best be understood.
- Race … the category to which others assign individuals on the basis of physical characteristics and the generalizations and stereotypes made as a result.
- Culture … the belief systems and value orientations that influence customs, norms, practices, and social institutions, including psychological processes and organizations.
- Ethnicity … the acceptance of the group mores and practices of one's culture of origin and the concomitant sense of belonging.
Race & Diversity courses develop a sophisticated understanding of race and racism as dynamic concepts, pointing to the ways in which race intersects with other group identifications such as gender, class, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation or disability.
Race & Diversity courses are intended to teach students how to:
Recognize the ways in which race intersects with other group identifications or ascriptions: gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age;
Understand the relationships among diversity, justice and power;
Explore what it means for individuals and institutions to exist in a multi-racial, multicultural world;
Investigate the various forms race and racism has taken in different places and times; and
Discuss race matters with diverse others in relation to personal experience.