Social Ethics - Cultural Diversity

PERSPECTIVES on RACIAL RELATIONS in LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Racial Relations in Society:

In contemporary American culture, race relations represent some of the most important dynamics that shape society. In that regard, the character of different communities vary tremendously, at least partly as a function of the degree to which minority cultures are represented in their community's media, administration, and public services (Henslin, 2002).

As a middle age Caucasian male, I am part of the most dominant racial and cultural demographic that is best represented in Las Vegas. Consequently, the primary way race relates to my life is indirectly, as a function of my experiences interacting with other individuals. The issue of my race in relation to its proportional representation in media and public administration and obviously does not impact my perception of belonging to society.

Conversely, members of racial minorities are likely much more conscious of the degree to which the predominant social culture embraces cultural diversity, both in its formal policies as well as prevailing informal attitudes. This is an issue that affects me more because, to a certain extent, the perceptions among minority cultures about their relationship to society shape their expectations of individual members of the predominant majority in social situations. Likewise, it may very well play a role in the outward attitude of many members of racial minorities expressed to me in personal interactions, although it is sometimes difficult to know the underlying source of substantial variations that likely mean more than many aspects of outward behavior.

Unique Cultural Elements of Las Vegas:

Las Vegas is popularly referred to as the "entertainment capital of the world" but it is also known as the "capital of second chances," an obvious reference to its very high rate of incoming permanent residences who leave other states to start a new life in Las Vegas. Demographically, Caucasian represent more than two-thirds of the population, with Hispanics and African-Americans representing most of the remaining segment, in which Hispanics outnumber African-Americans approximately three-to-one (LV.gov, 2007). Las Vegas is a center of tourism and, until the collapse of the mortgage security industry, a booming housing market since the turn of the 21st century. Partly because of its proximity to California and its warm climate, it has also attracted a substantial transient community.

The local government is lead by Mayor Oscar Goodman who presides over the City Council (LV.gov, 2007). The City Council consists of the Mayor and six council members, of whom all are Caucasian except for Councilman Rikki Barlow who is African-American. On the other hand, according to its of official public website, Las Vegas,

We are building a world class city by providing business development, career opportunities, supplier diversity and cultural awareness. Diversity is one of three major initiatives that will become part of our business DNA" (Selby, 2007). and, with respect to hiring in connection with cultural diversity, "We actively search for a diverse pool of qualified candidates to provide us with the depth of talent, skill and potential to meet our goals. We provide mentoring, career development, on-site education and tuition reimbursement programs to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to build the best career possible" (Selby, 2007.

The Las Vegas public website also references receipt of the 2006 Southern Nevada Human Resources Association's Diversity Award for promotion of diversity in the workplace and also the 2007 City Cultural Diversity Award from the National League of Cities (Selby, 2007). The local media has also embraced racial and cultural diversity to the extent that virtually every local news telecast includes on-camera personnel in equal or greater proportion to respective racial representation in the community.

Personal Experiences and Observations:

In my personal experience, the degree to which human interactions in my community have been racialized depends much more on other types of differences than race. Specifically, where factors like income and social class are responsible for perceptions of being socially disenfranchised or economically deprived, at least some of the negative sentiments resulting in disadvantaged minorities seems to include a component of racism toward the racial majority. Therefore, there are definitely particular neighborhoods in the local community where it would be somewhat inadvisable for me to walk the streets alone, especially after dark, and mainly because I would be immediately perceived as an outsider purely by virtue of my race. From…