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Cultural Background: Personal Journey Essay

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Updated: Mar 24th, 2021

Introduction

Understanding one’s ethnical and racial background is crucial because it helps in building the confidence needed to initiate progress within a particular community. Knowledge of the history of the black people, as an example reminds me of the accomplishments and the contributions that the Black race made long time ago. It also helps in developing a strong feeling of pride thereby giving me the necessary morale of surging ahead in terms of growth and development in different sectors.

It is through the maintenance of culture that people often find themselves going to war. As a member of the Black community, I have gone through many good experiences that have increased my pride in preserving our culture. However, there have also been emotional experiences caused by tragic historical amnesia that have threatened our welfare. This work explains my racial and ethnical background, the challenges I have gone through, effects of these challenges and the necessary measures that I have taken to improve my profession as a counselor.

My Racial and Ethnical Background

My cultural background is Black America. Both of my parents are Blacks. However, my father has some Cherokee Indian culture from his family tree. I grew up in Miami, Florida, from my childhood until when I finished my senior high school, in the late 1960s and 1970s. I attended an integrated school where there was a mixture of Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics. Lucky enough, the intercultural integration in this school was not characterized by racism and cultural divide.

This characteristic, coupled with my outgoing nature, enabled me to achieve a lot, especially in students’ governance, throughout my high school studies. During this time, there were no issues of race and equality in Miami, Florida. Miami was a melting pot and a city characterized by rapid globalization. It is therefore through the multicultural integration that I was able not to engage in racial issues.

My Challenges and How They Affect Me

I started grappling with emotional issues, specifically related to my color and race, when I joined a Historic Black college in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was in this college that the reality of my cultural background finally dawned on me. During that period, racism was still very rampant in Raleigh. When I went shopping in downtown Raleigh, the store only allowed one person to come in to shop and the store attendants followed until a person had made a purchase. When I shared this with my parents, they told me that I was not in the same environment as in Miami. I came to understand that in this region, people discriminated us on the basis of the color of our skin (Fernandez, 2007). I was therefore advised by my parents to pray for such people.

I completed my college studies and joined the Army as a lieutenant. My senior Army officers posted me to Colorado Springs, Colorado, which was my first duty station. I was the only Black officer by then. All the other officers were White males who attended high-level academies such as West Point Military Academy. One of the duties as a lieutenant is to counsel the soldiers who work under me. Most of my challenges in my profession came during this period. I discovered that I did not have excellent writing skills that were up to standard for the Army. It was also the norm for the white Army officers to state that the minority officers had poor written and communication skills.

How I Can Improve and Develop My Profession

I could to tackle my challenges by going back to school to improve my writing and communication skills. I enrolled in a local college and took English composition 101 and join the local Toastmaster chapter to improve my oral communication skills. My determination to overcome the stereotype for the minority officers also boosted my quest for improvement. Thus as a lieutenant and counselor, my writing, and oral skills improved throughout the years. I have to confess here that without these skills, a counselor becomes ineffective in the performance of his duties.

Another challenge that I had to overcome was when I permitted my emotions to dominate the situation involving my counseling profession. This had to do with the human side of me. It involves caring and loving everyone regardless of his race, creed, or religion. In fact, this is one way in which racism can be abolished (Fernandez, 2007). I have learned to separate my feeling and emotions so that I become a professional counselor. I am learning to do this by attending school and engaging in conversations. This will help me to keep the emotional aspects out of my profession and I am sure with further practice, I will improve.

Conclusion

The knowledge of the history of the Black people reminds me of our accomplishments and contributions that our ancestors made long time ago. It also helps in developing a strong feeling of pride thereby giving us the necessary morale of surging ahead in terms of growth and development in different sectors. My challenges as a Black relates closely with my place of work where the circumstances forced me to battle with stereotypes of the minority groups. I have since been able to tackle them by going back to school to correct my mistakes.

Reference

Fernandez, R. (2007). America beyond Black And White: How Immigrants and Fusions Are Helping Us Overcome the Racial Divide. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

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