In a society that is rapidly growing in variety of its people, it is becoming more important to accommodate our society to accept and embrace diversity, if not for the sake of the individuals, but for the sake of ensuring a society that will persevere through the passing of time. A society that does not change with time will not last; bearing this in mind, it is easy to see why, with a changing society and ever-growing diversity, our style of communication with others, and even ourselves, must evolve. Though the change may be difficult to some, altering and adapting our style of communication to include the variety of individuals in our society is an absolute necessity that will ensure a more accepting, colorful, and ever flourishing society.
Communication without Change
As American society first began to develop, many races and ethnicities were introduced and greeted with varying degrees of hostility from the majorly Caucasian population that assumed superiority because many of these races did not bear the same appearance or use the same language as them. Though variances in individuals existed before in religion, country of origin, and political views, the introduction of people who were not pale, English-speaking, or composed of Euro-centric features were a culture-shock to the American people. In the face of dissimilarity, society became hostile. Instead of embracing the differences between themselves and their new neighbors, the Caucasian majority used the differences to develop slurs, stereotypes, and prejudices that continue to exist today, even amongst the different ethnicities. Though they may not exist in such a radical degree, racist sentiments continue to permeate our society and effect our decisions in a subconscious level, a byproduct of the time in which we are raised and the people who we surround ourselves with. One of my personal experiences as a Hispanic woman from a small town, and the most memorable, occurred when I was around ten years old.
My mother, two youngers sisters, and I had gone to Walmart to do some shopping. At the time, we had been short on money, so my mother began couponing to help make our money last longer. I recall that she usually would not go couponing at Walmart; she said it was a lot harder to manage there, but we were in need to certain toiletries, and the prices were incredibly low at the time. We had gathered what we needed and proceeded to checkout. However, this was before the advent of self-checkout, so everyone had to wait in line. It didn’t occur often, but, in this case, there was an issue with some of the coupons that resulted in the checkout process taking longer than usual. There was an elderly, Caucasian couple behind us that began to loudly grumble and complain about the issue. They began to voice racist sentiments towards my mother as she waited for the coupons to clear through, revealing their racist prejudice against us that was instigated by a mere hold up at the checkout line.
Consequences of Unchanging Communication
I know that my experience is not a solitary one in my family’s life or in anyone else’s, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. The implications of prejudices and stereotypes result in communication that is not other-oriented, ethical, or mindful of others. According to the experiences of my classmates, these prejudices truly are universal in our society despite the amazing strides we have taken in accepting others in the face of adversity. Though gay marriage was nationally legalized in 2015, signs advocating the existence of an LGBTQ+ support group are torn down in a high school a mere three years later. Though the Jim Crow laws were abolished in 1964, more than fifty years ago, racism and prejudice continue to exist against the black community with an alarming presence. Our laws and legal system may have shifted to accommodate its growing diversity, but the communication style of America in general leaves much to be desired regarding its acceptance of others and its ability to adapt to the passing of time. If our communication style remains stagnant, the effects will polarize society into different levels of “us versus them” that will permeate into different factions.
Differences will appear more drastic between cultures, communication will become more difficult, and the relations between different sub-cultures will turn into mimicries of the Montague-Capulet feud. As the hostilities between different groups intensify, the advancement of society will not be completely halted, but it will certainly be hindered. As the relations between groups become the focus of societal efforts, advancements in other important aspects of life will no longer take precedence.