How Race and Culture Affects

How Race and Culture Affects Lives

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How Race and Culture Affects Lives

Ethnicity is the national background that a person identifies with. Race, ethnicity, and culture often influence people’s decisions and the way they behave in various situations. Race and culture also influence people’s attitudes and the beliefs they have about themselves and others. American society is one of the most culturally diverse societies in the world. America produces about seven races: African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, American Indian Native, White, Asian, and at least two other races. This text discusses how race and culture affect people’s lives, including violence, lack of identity and how language limits people’s perception.


To begin with, it goes without saying that conflicts to do with race and culture often ignite violence among people in a community set up. The main issue here is that one group often perceives themselves as superior and excludes people of other races. For a long time, there has been white supremacy in the United States. White people who have been at the centre of this controversy often look down upon their black counterparts and view them as less important. This emanates from the fact that people of color are seen as outsiders because they are not originally from the United States. The ancestors of people of color came to America as slaves, and for a long time, they were only viewed as objects to provide free labor. However, things changed after the constitutional amendment that gave all people equal rights and demanded the equal treatment of people of color. Although great improvements have taken place, even in today’s society, hate continues to exist between white and black counterparts. Today, we see gun violence, police brutality and preferential treatment of white counterparts by the justice system. Worth noting, in his speech, Baldwin notes that racial conflict exists not only in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida but also in other states. When asked, she said that as long as there is a Negro population, conflicts pertaining to race are likely to erupt. He says that Negroes for a long time have been in terrible situations and the vehemence and depth of danger they go through continues to surprise their white counterparts. Baldwin further adds that racial violence still exists because the American Republic has denied the fact that Negroes used to work as a cheap source of labor. Dealing with underlying issues of oppression of Negroes is critical in putting an end to racial violence.

Lack of Identity

Race and culture also affect a person’s sense of identity. Baldwin says that being an American is a complex fate in his essay on what it means to be an American. Baldwin notes that America’s history informs his identity and position in the world. His dream was to become a writer in the future. He ended up leaving America for Paris because he doubted his ability to overcome the problem of color there. Without a doubt, America tends to keep people divided instead of connecting them. People are segregated along the lines of race. As a black person, one is often disadvantaged because people see their race first before everything else. Racism makes a person lose their identity because they already have perception and bias about people of color (Baldwin, 1959). People of color are less educated and, by extension, work in low-income sectors compared to their white counterparts. This takes a toll on all other aspects of their life, including the neighborhood they live in, the schools their children attend, the kind of friends they hang around and even the kind of job they can hold. According to Baldwin, identity has everything to do with Baldwin being the son of a slave, and white people are sons of free men. Baldwin said that moving to Europe gave him something that America could not; a sense of identity.

Language and Limited Perception

Race and culture also influence people’s lives by limiting their perception. Language is an aspect of culture that brings closer the people of the same identity and alienates outsiders (Tongue, 2003). In her essay, Amy Tan notes that language shapes how we see things, express things, and make sense of the world around us. Without a doubt, language limits perception because it limits interaction between people. Taking the example of the broken language Tan’s mother speaks, Tan understood her mother very well, but this was not the case with other people. Tan tried as much as possible to speak good English when giving speeches but a time came when she started being conscious when using English around her mother. Her mother was well educated, and she could express herself well and read Wall Street and Forbes magazines. Despite this, some people said they could barely understand 50% of what she said, and some said it was as if she was speaking in pure Chinese. Initially, Tan used to be embarrassed by her mother’s English because she believed it reflected the quality of what she wanted to say. The way she expressed herself made her seem imperfect.


In closing, race and culture are demonstrated in how we look and relate with the people around us. Race has to do with the geographical location with which we identify with. Race and culture affect our lives in various ways. Race and culture cause racial oppression which translates to violence. Race also causes issues of identity and limits other people’s perceptions of us. Both Tan and Baldwin show how race impacted their lives. Baldwin moved to Europe as he felt that he could have an identity there and his career as a writer would blossom there. Tan also experienced first-hand through his mother how language influences how other people perceive us. Although strides have been made in the right direction to eliminate racial segregation in society, there is a need for all actors to join hands in furtherance of the agenda.


Baldwin, J. (1959). The discovery of what it means to be an American. Collected Essays, 142.

Tongue, M. (2003). Amy Tan. The world is a Text: Writing, Reading, and Thinking about Culture and Its Contexts, 291.