Ethnically, I belong to the Arab Muslim ethnic group from Southeast Asia. My group immigrated to the USA a long time ago and became a part of society. There is a large Muslim community in the country which supports newcomers and old generations of immigrants. Despite great democratic changes in the USA, Muslim people are faced with prejudice, segregation, and racism. The discrimination is based on cultural and religious differences between Americans and Muslims and is heated by the 9/11 terror attacks and negative images of Muslim countries.
The prejudices are a part of the negative image of the Arab Muslim ethnic group associated with terrorist attacks and the jihad movement. Although behavior cannot always be predicted based on whether it is culturally shaped or socially learned, it is probable that employer recognition considerably encourages acceptance of diversity. Overt behavior is likely when there is a willingness to accept the Arab Muslim ethnic group as a part of the staff. Some companies act out their anti-diversity attitudes no matter how negatively management reacts to them (Schuman et al 2003).
Segregation and racism are interlinked and become apparent in all social spheres of life. My ethnic group experiences segregation in education (schools and universities), healthcare, and law enforcement. These negative attitudes are learned mainly from mass media and negative publicity. The American society learns most of the attitudes from TV news and the press. As ego-deflating, as it may be to accept, it is a fact that a few political leaders invent attitudes for most people. An attitude about racial diversity, for instance, is a complex perceptual invention, and society is not perceptually creative. The superiority of native citizens or inferiority of Arab-Muslim groups (as contrasted to that of an individual) is not obvious; not many casual observers can perceive significant group differences. Also, there are more differences within racial or ethnic groups than between them. Unfortunately, most companies bring Arab-Muslims to work with the–bags packed by other people Schuman et al 2003).
Arab-Muslims from Southeast Asia is one of the groups faced with the dual labor market, double jeopardy, institutional discrimination, reverse discrimination, glass ceiling, etc. All of these problems are caused by prejudices and segregation against Arab Muslims. The most dangerous prejudices are negative attitudes directed toward Arab Muslims. These problems take the form of assumptions or generalizations about all or most members of the Arab Muslims group. In some cases, I hear such comments as “You know how those people are!”. This kind of in-group versus out-group antagonism disrupts work interactions and subverts organization efficiency. The behaviors, customs, and values of Arab Muslims are labeled strange or weird. Employee attitudes of acceptance of culturally different employees are learned in much the same manner denial is inculcated. In many cases, other cultural groups lived in America most often learn as children to reject culturally different people.
Arab-Muslims from Southeast Asia often experiences institutional discrimination, reverse discrimination, and a glass ceiling as they are perceived as low skilled workforce with poor knowledge and professional expertise. Thus, many of Arab-Muslims have a perfect education and excellent knowledge in their sphere of business. When employees who hold anti-diversity attitudes are confronted by managers with logic or with new facts, they usually do not change their values. Instead, these employees tend to hide their true beliefs and pretend to have been converted, particularly if their managers are monitoring the organizational culture.
Dual labor market and double jeopardy are problems caused by illegal immigration and denial to employ of Arab-Muslims by private companies. In many situations, Arab-Muslims look for other sources to support their beliefs, such as biblical passages or anti-diversity research findings. Methods and approaches such as an exceedingly emotional appeal or cautiously crafted experiential exercises focusing on cultural diversity often are more successful than highly structured scientific lectures. What is true and what is personally attractive are not always the same. Most attitudes towards Arab-Muslims such as those supporting racism, sexism, and ageism are seldom originally formed by logic; nor are they frequently altered by logic Schuman et al 2003).
Despite the problems mentioned above, I identify myself with the American mainstream culture and feel like a part of it. I value and follow my cultural traditions, but they do not contradict the American culture. In reality, the amount of attitude change depends on people’s initial position regarding cultural differences, their attention to the message and the interaction, their understanding of the message, and their acceptance of the other ethnic group. Depending on the motivational bases for new attitudes, acceptance of cultural values will be positively affected by diversity activities that provide tangible pay-offs. For most Arab Muslims, the experience of digestion and redefinition of self is a result of negative images created by mass media and the press. In the best-case scenario, educated and culturally competent American citizens learn to accept themselves and peoples of other cultures as co-workers and friends of equal human worth.
Schuman, H., Steeh, C., Bobo, L., Krysan, M. (2003). Racial attitudes in America: Trends and interpretations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.