Cultural Value and Diversity Awareness in
Chesay Colson, B.A., M.B.A
Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion
Define and explore personal values and cultural/racial
Identify and discuss some personal barriers to effective
intercultural communicating and learning.
Discuss why personal values, cultural and race identity
matters in the higher education.
“Culture is learned, shared, and transmitted
values, beliefs, norms, and a way of living or being a part of an
group, which are generally transmitted inter-generationally and
influence one’s thinking and action (Leininger, 1998).”
Culture is made up of meaning systems, such as beliefs, values and
ways of thinking and viewing the world:
Is learned through social interactions with family and the
It is largely invisible, unrecognized and not discussed. “Seldom
do most people acknowledge how our day-to-day behaviors
are shaped by our learned cultural norms and values or how the
culture we experience is reinforced by our families, peers, and
social institutions. How one defines „family‟, identifies desirable
life goals, views problems, and even says hello are all influenced
by the culture in which one functions(Leininger, 1998) .”
Defining Personal Values
An individual‟s values are things each person believes
are important in the way the individual lives and works.
Values determine our priorities
Values exists whether we acknowledge them or not
Culture, Race and our Personal
Personal identity deals with the virtue of our being people
and the questions, which arise from our personal identities
who am I; when did I begin; what does my identity mean to
Personal identity is what makes one the person one is
(culture, language, ethnicity/race, customs, religion etc.).
Parts of our cultural identities are learned and later we select
for ourselves those parts of our culture which matter most
(keeping some identities, while rejecting others).
Culture and race shapes the way we see ourselves and
others. In the context of culture it is contingent upon our
associated networks, values and convictions. In regards to
race it is largely based upon physical attributes (Stanford
Understanding Cultural and
Cultural and Racial identity is often misunderstood and
contested amongst scholars with the meanings being
derived from biological dimensions and others from its
social dimensions (Spickard, 1992).
Racial identity as a Biological Category derives race from
an individual‟s physical features and character qualities.
Cultural and Racial identity as a Social Construct, refers
to a sense of a group or collective identity based on
one‟s perception that (s)he shares a common heritage
with a particular racial/cultural group (Helms, 1993).
12 Aspects of Culture
History, time period and
conditions under, which a group
arrives in a country or has their
Healing beliefs and practices:
attitudes and beliefs about
Social status factors: education,
Religion: spiritual beliefs and
Social group interaction
patterns: Intra-group (within
group relations) and Inter-group
Art and expressive forms: art,
music, stories, dance, etc.
Value orientation : standards by
which members of a culture
judge their personal actions and
those of others.
Language and communication:
verbal and nonverbal.
Family life processes: gender
roles, family dynamics.
10. Diet/foods: preferred food
eaten by groups.
11. Recreation: activities, sports for
12. Clothing: types, styles, and
extent of body coverings.
Culture and Race is Multi-layered
Everyone goes through a process of cultural and racial
identity development. It exists at the individual, group
and societal level:
Individual assumptions, values, beliefs shaped by family
and social groups.
Group membership based on ethnicity, gender, age,
class, race, religion, sexual orientation, region, country,
Societal institutions that shape our world, schools,
workplaces, media and the government.
Cultural and Racial Identity
Cultural and racial identity development is not linear.
People move back and forth from stage to stage, but
when revisiting an earlier stage, it will look different
because of new experiences.
The concept of recycling through the stages can be
seen as a spiral staircase.
5 Stages of Cultural/Racial
Development – Persons of Color (Dr.
Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD)
Pre-encounter: Seeks to assimilate into the dominant culture.
Encounter: Individual is forced to acknowledge his/her
differences through an event or series of events.
Immersion/Emersion: Strong desire to surround oneself with
visible symbols of one‟s racial/cultural identity.
Internalization: Individual is secure in their racial/cultural identity
and seeks to establish meaningful relationships of one‟s
Internalization-Commitment: The individual discovers ways to
communicate their commitment to the concerns/needs of their
own racial/cultural group.
6 Stages of Racial/Cultural
Development – Whites (Dr. Beverly
Contact: A lack of awareness cultural and institutional racism, one‟s own
racial/cultural White privilege (limited knowledge/awareness of racial issues and
interactions with People of Color).
Disintegration: Increased interactions with People of Color may lead to a new
understanding of racial/cultural issues.
Reintegration: Desire to be accepted by one‟s own race/culture may lead an
individual to accept covert/overt racism and racial/cultural superiority. (A
negative encounter or a need to survive in one‟s circumstance can heighten the
need for reintegration)
Pseudo-Independent: Information seeking about People of color, abandoning
cultural (White) superiority beliefs, may still unintentionally perpetuate institutional
systems of racism.
Immersion/Emersion: Feelings of uncomfortableness with his/hers Whiteness, but
understands their Whiteness is a part of their personal identity/culture (Searches for
Whites with similar experiences and seeks to resist racism in their environment).
Autonomy: Acquires positive feelings about oneself as White, may form alliances
outside with races/cultures more easily. Positive feeling and encounters may lead
the individual confront racism and oppression in their daily life.
Assumptions and What We Don‟t
“Sometimes the assumptions we make about others
come not from what we have been told or what we
have seen on TV, read in books, but rather from what we
have not been told (Tatum, 1997).”
The distortion of historical information about People of
Color leads young people (and older people too) to
make assumptions that may go unchallenged for a
Cultural and Racial Identity in the in
Higher Education…What‟s Missing?
Racial and cultural identity is commonly left out of
educational text and curriculum, therefore is not seen as
salient in the classroom for white students and students of
color alike (Tatum, 1997).
Consequence of this omission is that educators most of
whom are White, teaching in racially mixed classrooms
who are observing identity development in the classrooms
are lacking an important interpretative framework to help
them understand what is happening in their interactions
with students and their cross-racial interactions with
colleagues (Tatum, 1997).
Intercultural Learning: A Complex
“Intercultural learning is derived from the increased awareness of
subjective cultural context (world view), including one‟s own,
and developing greater ability to engage sensitively and
competently across cultural contexts. This competence is both an
immediate and long-term effect of intentional cultural exchange
(Intercultural Development Research Institute, 2013).”
“Intercultural learning is never linear or orderly. It is a process that
occurs in complex ways with increasing levels of cultural
knowledge with new encounters and experiences (Nakanishi
and Ritter, 1992).”
This process looks different for People of Color and White People.
Bank‟s (2001) 5 Dimensions of
Building Cultural and Race
Awareness in Higher Education
Empowering school culture
Customs/conflicting personal values/beliefs
Subject matter anxiety (fear of saying or doing the wrong
Preconceptions, stereotypes and discrimination
Language/Communication (verbal and nonverbal)
“Differences do not separate us, but refusing to
acknowledge them and the role they take in shaping our
relationships and institutions keeps us apart. We need to
rethink difference---use it as a place to reconstruct our world
A post-secondary education does not always speak for
itself, especially when it comes to cultural competence;
there must be a commitment to intercultural learning. If we
remain convinced that whatever emerges automatically
from cross-cultural contact is intercultural learning; it
becomes very difficult to make the case for intentional
preparation beyond the logistics of passive contact.
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