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Cultural Identity Development Research Paper

Pages:8 (2411 words)



Topic:Cultural Identity

Document Type:Research Paper



This paper addresses the significance of ethnic or cultural identity. It deals with the identity of socially advantaged as well as disadvantaged groups and my relation to them. Additionally, it highlights the significance of the self-identity concept. The Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI), put forward by Smith, Sellers, Shelton and colleagues (1998), has been utilized to address all of the above aspects. The paper further explains the model, applying its dimensions to various self-identity aspects. Finally, the paper delves into the way such identity-related aspects intersect with one another.


Identity is multifaceted in nature: it may be relational and circumstantial, as well as concurrently permanent, changing and dynamic. Identity development occurs via a process of socialization. It may or may not be self-established. It is, rather frequently, employed in the labeling and categorization of persons believed to possess oppositional or dual differences. Additionally, identity represents a construct applied in creating social orders of dominance and persecution, characterized by some groups being at an advantage in terms of influence and freedom and others, concurrently, being less fortunate (Babbitt, 2013). In this paper, the subject of development of cultural identity and connected issues will be discussed. Moreover, this paper will facilitate an understanding of my own cultural identity through the application of a model of cultural identity development.

Summary of GSA Self-Assessment

The foremost step to become a culturally sensitive and proficient counselor in a multicultural setting is: self-examination, which encompasses understanding of one's cultural identity, characteristics, prejudices, principles, and views (Pamela, 2008). In the society that I am a part of, my African-American cultural/racial community is regarded as a minority community. With regard to age, I am a part of the dominant age group of adults. Further, I have no disabilities. With regard to spirituality and my religious background, my community is neutral. With regard to racial/ethnic identity, I belong to a non-dominant population, namely, people of color. If one looks at my social class, one will see that I belong to the dominant population of upper middle class persons. My gender orientation is also dominant in society (I am a heterosexual person). With regard to indigenous background-related cultural identity, my own is neutral. As I was born in America, my nationality coincides with that of the society's dominant population. Furthermore, my gender expression as well as gender identity lie within society's dominant group (I am male, possessing masculine expression). Lastly, while my weight (I am more toward the higher end of the body mass index) means that with regard to body size, I belong to the non-dominant cluster, my society pertaining to birth-assigned gender is neutral.

Educational level represents one means of identifying the dominant or privileged population in my society, and I regard myself a part of this educated group. First, I am fortunate to have graduated from reputable colleges/universities. Further, the social class that I am a part of is not perceived as inferior by society. However, as I am African-American, I consider myself a part of a non-privileged racial community in several ways. Absence of influence and authority constitutes one among the non-dominant population identities I identify with. Privileged (majority/white) racial group members are able to avail themselves of numerous benefits owing to their association with the more dominant part of the nation's power system. Meanwhile, those hailing from more marginalized communities, such as me, are incapable of acquiring power easily. In addition, African-Americans exhibit greater likelihood of having low accessibility when it comes to well-paid employment and renowned educational institutions. Meanwhile, the mainstream American population (i.e., White Americans) displays greater likelihood of claiming that African-Americans mainly struggle with progressing in their educational lives and career because of their unstable households and absence of excellent role models. White and African American adults alike, who claim that their racial background interferes with the latter's ability to succeed, display equal likelihood of stating that a key reason is the low motivation to exert efforts in order to succeed.

A consideration of my personal identity and status hierarchy will lead one to realize that I consider being an American citizen tops the list (which is so I bear in mind my extant standing of great power, prestige, and opportunity, when compared to others). The above realization further helps me keep in mind others' disadvantaged and needy situation. A point to note here is that, our community boasts the most diverse and richest background among all ethnic groups in the nation (as well as surrounding nations). African Americans' roots may be traced back to several kingdoms of old, like the Asante, Mali, Songhai, Dahomey, Oyo, Kongo, Kuba, Benin, and Futa Jallon. Virtually all African groups across the globe have been victims of some or other form of American racism. While they may have had different experiences,…

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…with my professional identity occasionally takes precedence over my racial identity to become the key aspect of my self-image. In some scenarios, I need to maintain low private regard for handling different situations and merging with the majority. Similarly, gender also assumes precedence in identity, on occasion. The MMRI model permits these identity construction fluctuations, though along some distinct, quantifiable dimensions such as regard, salience, centrality, and ideology (Sellers, Smith, Shelton, et al., 1998).

The MMRI model has offered me huge insights. Multidimensionality reflects the intrinsic complexity of living in the United States. In addition, this model takes into account individuals' differences in social situation, childhood, and personality. In the role of counselor, this model can prove valuable to me when dealing with clients belonging to different backgrounds. Not every person understands racial identity's importance until he/she intentionally thinks about it, just as a large number of males are oblivious to their male privilege till they ponder over scenarios wherein their being a man allows them to access power and other rewards. A second important lesson obtained from a study of the MMRI is: every racial identity is not created in opposition. Several individuals such as I have developed a robust self-image owing to being well-aligned with being an African American and not disagreeing with the importance of structural elements which may inadvertently or consciously shape one's life choices.

Multiple elements of my personal identity, like gender, racial background, gender orientation, and social class intersect with one another to make me who I am. That is, I describe myself as heterosexual African-American man. My sexual orientation and gender put me at an advantage, from time to time. Occasionally, I face racial bias, which is unavoidable if I need to live in this society. The above components of my individual identity make me understand that I shouldn't and won't do so with others. There is a need for extensive racial and cultural acceptance.


Diversity encompasses incorporating differences in inter-group beliefs as well as in-group differences which move a society forward from rigid, narrow racial identity treatment. In the current age, several individuals continue to struggle with supposedly contradictory ethnic and national identities, a phenomenon that is particularly true in the case of the US, whose historical experiences have wrought a sort of "double consciousness", according to W.E.B. Du Bois (Wong, 2017). In conclusion, the topic of racial…

Sample Source(s) Used


Allport, G. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Babbitt, N. (2013). Identities: Markers of power and privilege. Retrieved from

Baldwin, J. A. (1984). African self-consciousness and the mental health of African-Americans. Journal of Black Studies, 15, 177-194.

Clark, K. B. (1965). Dark ghetto. New York: Harper & Row.

Cross, W. E. (1991). Shades of black: Diversity in African-American identity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Horowitz, R. (1939). Racial aspects of self-identification in nursery school children. Journal of Psychology, 7, 91-99.

Kambon, K. (I 992). The African personality in America: An Aitricancentered framework. Tallahassee, FL: Nubian Nation Publications

Kardiner, A., & Ovesey, L. (1951). The mark of oppression. New York: Norton.

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