Cultural Diversity

A rich mixture of cultures has influenced California’ s cultural development. Different periods such as the Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and California period color its history; with each period tied to a different cultural group that makes up the fabric of California. When it became a State, a great influx of immigrants from all over the world entered California. Each culture has left its mark on the fabric, richness, and development of California’s culture in the form of cultural celebrations, food, architecture, religions, languages, and festivals.

Although it was not always so, today citizens of California celebrate the cultural diversity that exists. As they celebrate their own culture, they appreciate the cultures of others in the spirit of tolerance and acceptance. César E. Chávez worked to promote the acceptance of cultural diversity as he led a movement for social change and justice. He encouraged and appreciated the involvement of people from many religions, races, economic backgrounds, and cultures. Many people recognized that he worked to promote tolerance, justice, and humanity. Millions of people supported him in the spirit of acceptance and change.

Focus Questions:

What is culture?

What is cultural diversity and how did it come to be in California?

What is your cultural background and how do you celebrate your cultural diversity?

Expected Learning Outcomes:

You will define culture, national culture, and cultural diversity

You will identify the influx of different cultures that have contributed to California’s cultural diversity.

You will attempt to identify elements in your own life that could be a reflection of ethnic culture.

Assessment:

Students will compare national culture to their interviewee’s culture using a Venn diagram.

Students will examine the definition of culture, by writing an account of cultural heritage using the information that they gathered in the interview. They will include the ethnic foods, customs, and traditions that may still exist. Students will also document any family stories that relate to immigrant lives, work, and possible struggles, and attempt to glean a few words from the original language along with the translation.

The students will celebrate the ethnic diversity that exists in their classroom in a spirit of acceptance and tolerance.

 Vocabulary:

tolerance: To accept and let be even though it may not be like you or not what you believe

acceptance: To receive something with gladness

philosophy: Beliefs and moral self-discipline

celebration: To observe an event with ceremonies of respect or rejoicing

ethnic: A group of people who share a distinctive cultural and racial heritage

wages: Payment for work

decent: Meeting acceptable standards

appreciate: To recognize the quality and importance of

political system: The way a government is run

ancestors: A person from whom one is descended

traditions: The passing down of elements of a culture

customs: A practice followed by a people of a particular group or region

heritage: A way of life, a custom, or belief that has come from the past and continues today

justice: Fairness

civil rights: The rights of citizens to equal treatment

coalition: A group of people that come together for a purpose

Motivation:

Define culture and national culture, explain that all Americans celebrate a national culture, but some Americans also celebrate a family culture that is specific to their immigrant ancestry. Explain that California is very rich in ethnic diversity and has a mixture of cultures as well as national culture.

Define Culture:

Culture has to do with the way people live and what they believe in. Culture is learned from one’s family. Food, music, religion, language, celebrations, traditions, and beliefs are all a part of culture.

Define National Culture:

In the United States of America every American citizen shares a national culture in which they share the freedoms that the constitution provides, the English language, and celebrate national holidays such as the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Presidents Day, and Memorial Day.

Define Cultural Diversity:

Cultural diversity is the celebration of many different cultures in the appreciation and acceptance of their food, festivals, language, architecture, religion, and customs.

Making Connections:

Students will review the various cultures that have been a part of California’s history and analyze their cultural contributions.

In the previous lesson, students interviewed family members, school staff members, or neighbors in order to collect data on immigrant history. They identified the country or countries from which they can trace immigrant heritage and looked at the contributions of César E. Chávez, a descendent of an immigrant family.

In this lesson, students will learn about culture and cultural diversity and how it adds to the richness of California and their lives.

A History of California’s Cultural Diversity:

People from many different cultures have contributed to the growth of the State of California and each group left their mark on the diverse culture of California. In the early history of the State, Native Americans had lived on the land for thousands of years. In 1769, the Spanish built the first mission in an attempt to colonize California and transplant the Spanish culture in California. The Mexican period began in 1821 and lasted until 1848. In 1849, the Gold Rush began and 100,000 "forty-niners" came to California from all over the world. Many Chinese immigrants arrived during the gold rush and faced discrimination. In the 1800s, Japanese immigrants arrived and became successful farmers. California had become a state and by 1852, the population of California had grown to 250,000 people. Many immigrants from Europe found their way to California between the 1870s and the 1910s. Immigrants came to find a better life and worked to grow food, build towns, and create businesses that would help California become an economic leader.

In 1900, California’s population was 1,500,000 and included people from many different backgrounds and immigrants from other countries. There were 11,000 African Americans in California at this time that found they faced discrimination and poverty, although they had come to California to find a better life. Between 1942 and 1965, millions of Mexican workers came to work in the fields during the Bracero Program. The Braceros were promised fair wages and decent working and living conditions; however, they found low paying jobs and poor living conditions. In 1960s, many people immigrated from Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Immigrants brought rich cultures that included their religion, language, food, music, celebrations, and ideas. New immigrants often suffered discrimination and banded together in the same neighborhoods in order to take care of each other and to feel at home. Their neighborhoods reflected their cultures with celebrations, food, traditions, and even architecture.

Today, the population of California is over 32 million. Although citizens celebrate the national culture of the United States, they also celebrate the cultural diversity that exists in the State. California is rich with a variety of ethnic foods, celebrations, architecture, music, and art. The ethnic communities like China Town and Olivera Street add to California’s cultural diversity, and each year California holds events that celebrate cultural diversity.

Events that Celebrate Cultural Diversity in California

Chinese New Year in San Francisco

Swallows Return in Capistrano

Cherry Blossoms Festival in San Francisco

High Desert Arts Festival in Ridgecrest

Dixieland Jubilee in Sacramento

Shakespeare Festivals

Mozart Festival in San Luis Obispo

Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Monterey

Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara

Danish Days in Solvang

Monterey Jazz Festival

Long Beach Blues Festival

Octoberfest in Big Bear

Native American Art shows and PowWows at CSUSM

Mexican Independence Day Celebrations

Italian Festival in San Francisco

Swedish Festival in Kingsburg

Obon Festivals in Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo and Vista

We truly do have a diversified culture. Using a Venn diagram on the board and compare the student's culture to the national culture.

National Culture:

Fourth of July, Labor Day, Freedom, Thanksgiving, Presidents Day, American food

Interviewee’s Immigrant Culture:

Chinese Food, Japanese Food, Mexican Food, Italian Food, Ethnic Holidays

Lead the students to see that multicultural food and many multicultural holidays are part of the national culture that exists in California.

César E. Chávez Celebrated Cultural Diversity:

The State of California honors the life and philosophy of César E. Chávez with a State holiday. He is recognized as one of the State’s great leaders who fought injustice. He is also recognized for his philosophy of service to others, sacrifice, tolerance, nonviolence, dedication to justice, and determination.

For 30 years, César E. Chávez dedicated his life to the service of others. He led a movement for social justice that worked to bring fair wages, safe working conditions, and better living conditions to farm workers. Under his leadership many religious groups, students, minorities, consumers, and people from different ethnic groups came together to work for social justice. He once said, "I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice." He dedicated his life to work for the betterment of others and succeeded in organizing the farm workers of California and improving their lives.

César celebrated the tolerance of cultural diversity; he respected all races and religions. He encouraged people of all backgrounds to help the United Farm Workers. The UFW was made up mostly of Latino and Filipino people. When the Delano Grape strike was beginning, he said, "Its beautiful to work with other groups, other ideas, and other customs. Today we have a very good cross section of Americans here. Some of the kids have pretty wealthy parents and a lot are middle class, of course. And there are farm workers (Mexican and Filipino). We have the labor people and the church people, Protestants like Jim Drake and Chris Hartmire and practicing Catholics who come from religious orders, Jewish kids and agnostics. It’ s amazing they all work together. That’s the miracle of it all."

César welcomed the help of all religions, he felt that religion of any type was very special and he honored all religions. He once said, "To me religion is a most beautiful thing. And over the years I have come to realize that all religions are beautiful. Your religion just happens to depend a lot on your upbringing and your culture." César also believed that it was important to preserve cultural diversity. "We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community and this nation," he said. Many people from different religions and races saw the justice and truth in César’s efforts and joined him in the spirit of sacrifice, determination, and nonviolence. César believed in tolerance and respect of all races and religions.

César believed nonviolence could bring about social change, as did Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. César wanted fair treatment for the farm workers. He knew that in the past, powerful growers and big corporations had sometimes used violence against farm workers who tried to organize and demand higher wages, safe working conditions, and better living conditions. César instructed all of the people that worked to support the UFW to use nonviolence and he organized nonviolent pickets, boycotts, and marches. The growers did use violence against the peaceful picketing farm workers who wanted a better life and to be treated fairly. The American public saw the injustice that existed and supported the farm workers. Nonviolence was not easy, but it was powerful. César once said, "We can turn the world around if we do it nonviolently."

César believed in justice and worked to help all farm workers of all races. Although he began organizing Latino farm workers, he convinced his union to join the Filipino workers that started the Delano Grape Strike. In order to convince the UFW union to join the Filipino workers, he said, "We Mexicans here in the United States, as well as all other farm laborers, are engaged in another struggle for the freedom and dignity which poverty denies us. But it must not be a violent struggle even if violence is used against us…the strike was begun by the Filipinos but it is not exclusively for them. Tonight we must decide if we are to join our fellow workers in this great labor struggle."

The vote was unanimous to join the Filipino workers and, with the support of 17 million of Americans, they won. César had faith in the goodness of humanity and believed that people wanted justice. He commented, "Our opponents in the agricultural industry are very powerful and farm workers are still weak in money and influence. But we have another kind of power that comes from the justice of our cause. So long as we are willing to sacrifice for that cause, so long as we persist in nonviolence and work to spread the message of our struggle, then millions of people around the world will respond from their heart, will support our efforts… and in the end we will overcome."

César also led a movement that demanded civil rights for farm workers. César was concerned that people of all races or social standing be treated fairly. Martin Luther King, Jr. once sent César a note that read, "Our separate struggles are really one. A struggle for freedom, for dignity and humanity." When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, César made this statement, "King challenged us to work for a greater humanity, I hope that we are worthy of his challenge."

César’s philosophy of acceptance, appreciation, nonviolence, dedication to justice, and his belief in humanity continues to inspire those that remember him and celebrate his life.

List the elements of César E. Chávez’s philosophy on the board. Have the students decide if the current appreciation of cultural diversity aligns to his philosophy. Discuss evidence in today’s society that demonstrates any of César’s philosophy.

Elements of Philosophy

Service and dedication to others

Tolerance of Cultural Diversity

Nonviolence

Belief in Justice

Importance of Civil rights

Get out your interview notes. You will write a paper that celebrates the discovery of traces of your family’ s culture. Some may not have any trace of ethnic culture; they should write about what kinds of food they eat and what celebrations and customs are important to their families.  Bring in a photo of your family. Talk about the following items:

Definition of culture:

Identify the foods eaten by interviewees that may come from immigrant ancestors.

Identify any traditions or customs that the interviewee practices that may come from their ancestors.

Identify the religion of immigrants and decide if it is still practiced.

Share a few nice words from the original language and provide a translation

Service Learning:

Identify the Problem - The student body may not be aware of the cultural diversity that exists on campus, or may not have developed an appreciation for the fact that cultural diversity may exist.

Develop a Plan - A cultural diversity appreciation day can be celebrated in a spirit of acceptance, learning, and appreciation.

Initiate Action - A survey can be taken of classes that want to participate in a cultural diversity appreciation day. Parts of the survey can be questions regarding the existence of cultural diversity in the school, city, or State. Classes can then decide what cultures may exist in various classrooms, the city, or the State of California. Students may work in groups to present a booth and performance that demonstrates food, poetry, location, language, music crafts, costumes, photos, or folktales from the culture. At the event, students can take turns running the booths that they have prepared and present dances, songs, or poetry.

Reflection - The same survey can be given to the entire school. Results can be compared between classes that participated and those that did not participate or between before and after results of classes that did participate. Results can be scrutinized to determine if an insight of cultural diversity has evolved in the classrooms that attended the cultural diversity day. Results can be graphed. To express how they felt doing the cultural day, the students may write a poem or some other expression.