ETH/125 Cultural Diversity
January 01, 2013
I was born in and grew up in the Bronx, New York which, at the time was already considered racially diverse as was most of New York City. Growing up in the Bronx most of the people in the community, during my childhood, did look like me, mostly white Italians. There were some African Americans and Hispanics in the surrounding areas of the neighborhood and in the schools I attended, but very few. When I would walk down the streets with my parents I would see that most of the stores and restaurants in the area were owned by Italians or catered to the Italian culture. When I started going to school I attended a local Roman Catholic private school that had mostly white students and I was always told to stay away from the Hispanic and African American children. As I look back I do realize that even though there were many different types of people in the Bronx there were a lot of racial issues that kept neighborhoods segregated. The area I lived in was mostly Italian, several blocks away is where the Hispanics lived and most of the African Americans lived on the other side of the train tracks. As I got older I remember my parents telling me not to go into the Hispanic and African American areas surrounding our community because we would get beat up and I am sure parents of Hispanic and African American children told them not to go into the white area for just the same reason. My father would come home from work and would start yelling if we had a television show on that had African Americans in it, shows such as Good Times or The Jeffersons were not allowed to be watched, but it was okay for him to watch a show called Sanford and Son. This never made sense to me when I was younger but I now understand why, shows such as Good Times and The Jeffersons would often deal with and discuss racial issues plaguing the African Americans at that time, while the show Sanford and Son often poked fun at a lot of the stereotypical stigma’s attached to African Americans, in my father’s eyes that’s the way it should be.
As I got older and transferred from a private Catholic school to a public high school, I started interfacing with a lot of different people from many different races and it did not take long to find out that there are good and bad people in all races. In school there were a few Whites that hated Hispanics and African Americans and would get into fights or cause trouble for the most stupid reasons. This also applied to some of the people from other races who disliked Whites. During the 1970’s and 1980’s this was pretty much accepted behavior and being white was definitely an advantage whenever the police came around since, at that time, the police officers were mainly white men.
The modern day Bronx has gone through significant changes since the 1970’s, most people in the community do not look like me. There are many Hispanics and African Americans living in all areas of the borough and it seems that the segregated neighborhoods have all but gone away. As of the 2000 U.S. Census the White population was at 441,048 or 33.1% of the total population in the Bronx. African Americans make up the largest population at 510,321 or 38.3%, the population of Puerto Rican Hispanics is 319,240 or 24% and Mexican population is at 34,377 or 2.6% (U.S. Census 2000).
As the diversity of the population changed in the Bronx over the past 30 to 40 years so has the amount of discrimination among different racial groups, which I feel has significantly dropped over the years for various reasons. Education plays a big role in minimizing discrimination. As minorities become more educated the opportunity for higher paying jobs improves their lifestyles, some of these minorities may now seek public office in the community to further improve the civil rights of minority groups. In 2002 Adolfo Carrion Jr. was elected as the Bronx Borough President and served for