The use of the White Racial Identity Model developed by Janet Helms is useful for analyzing a person’s attitudes towards race and ethnicity. In particular, this framework is helpful for explaining how an individual perceives the effects of racial injustice on the community (Cousins, 2014, p. 1104). Moreover, this model can show how people can break free of their biases and stereotypes with time passing. While working on this assignment, I have been able to interview a Caucasian male aged 25. It is important to mention that his parents came to the United States from Eastern Europe in the late eighties. Currently, they are the citizens of the United States. During the interview, I asked him to express his views about the legacies of racism in modern American society. Overall, the responses of this person show that many of his beliefs are rather conflicting. Additionally, this interview has demonstrated to me that people can display the signs of several identity statuses identified by Janet Helms.
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The interviewee displays the signs of the so-called contact status identified by Janet Helms. At this stage, a person is satisfied with the existing status quo (Peterson, 2006, p. 24). In particular, individuals believe that currently, people have equal opportunities for raising their social status, even though they may differ in terms of their race, ethnicity, or religious background (Sue, 2005, p. 117). Additionally, they lay stress on the idea that they did not contribute to racial discrimination in any way. Some of these arguments are made by the interviewee. In particular, he is convinced that he cannot be accused of racial discrimination. This person states that his parents did not approve or promote racial laws since they came to the United States only three decades ago at the time when discriminatory practices were prohibited by the state. Moreover, he notes that his family also had to struggle with considerable economic hardships at the beginning. Furthermore, they faced difficulties due to linguistic barriers. So, at a certain point, their socio-economic status was rather similar to the position of many black people. Yet, they were able to overcome these problems. This is one of the issues that can be identified.
Overall, this person does not take into account that despite the initial poverty of his parents, they were better positioned in society due to the education that they previously obtained. Therefore, they had many employment opportunities, unlike many black people. Moreover, they did not have to struggle with prejudices because they were white. In contrast, many black people had to struggle with such difficulties as insufficient funding of many public schools located in the inner cities (McWhorter, 2000, p. 119). Furthermore, many of them had to grow up in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Apart from that, they had to struggle with biased attitudes of governmental officials. This person did not pay much attention to these issues.
Nevertheless, at the same time, the interviewee displays the signs of the so-called disintegration status. At this stage, a person understands that the legacies of racism are still palpable nowadays. They want to emphasize that he does not hold any racist beliefs. In turn, this person thinks that is necessary to support black people. In particular, he says that he is a staunch advocate of affirmative action because this policy can help many young people find employment. He also adds that this opinion is not shared by many of his friends. In this way, he tries to show that his moral conviction often leads to conflicts. Such situations are rather typical of the disintegration stage at which people have to resolve some ethical dilemmas related to race and ethnicity (Jackson, 2006). For instance, in many cases, they have to disagree with racial stereotypes, even though this disagreement can result in conflicts with peers. To a great extent, these experiences are familiar to the interviewee.
Additionally, this person does not agree with the common stereotypes according to which many members of minority groups struggle with economic difficulties because they do not want to work harder. In his opinion, this assumption is rather superficial. This detail is important for showing that people do not necessarily occupy only one of the statuses identified by Janet Helms. In many cases, they display the signs of several identity stages. This is one of the key points that should not be overlooked.
Overall, this discussion shows that White Racial Identity Model can be important for analyzing people’s beliefs about the influence of racism on society. This framework can show how they examine various ethical dilemmas associated with racism. Sometimes their biases can be explained by their lack of awareness about existing problems. In particular, they want to show that they did not contribute to racial discrimination in any way. Moreover, they state that their parents also had to struggle with significant challenges that may be familiar to minority groups. Yet, at the same time, they can admit that the current situation has to be changed. Furthermore, they may choose to enter conflicts with peers at the time when they need to refute some racial stereotypes. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.
Cousins, L. (2014).Encyclopedia of Human Services and Diversity. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.
Jackson, Y. (2006). Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.
McWhorter, J. (2000). Losing the Race: Self-sabotage in Black America. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Peterson, R. (2006). White, Male, and “minority”: A Study of Racial Consciousness Development Among White Male Undergraduate Students at a Public Historically Black University. New York, NY: ProQuest.
Sue, D. (2005). Multicultural Social Work Practice. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.