Personal Cultural Identity

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There are three parts to every individual personal identity which is known as tripartite model of personal identity, this model describes the individual, group, and universal levels of personal identity. We will be focusing on the group level of personal identity, which focuses on the similarities and differences among other individuals. The society divides everyone into groups based on demographic characteristics such as race these groups shapes the way we view ourselves, others in our group, and other outside your group. With this divisions between groups some are valued more over others such as Whites over Blacks (Minorities).

Cultural identity development is mainly focused on the minority phenomenon, which means members of the minority groups struggle with the negative attitudes and treatment by the dominate culture. Although not only do the minority’s struggle through the negative attitudes and treatment so does the dominate group. According to Janet Helms she “assumes that racist attitudes are a central part of European Americans and that development of a healthy white identity requires abandonment of racist ideas and the definition of oneself as non racist” (Mio, Barker, Rodriguez pg.229). Helm’s created six delineated stages in which she rather clarify them as statues to reflect the fact that individuals can exhibit attitudes and behaviors from more than just one stage at a time. It also includes that instead of static conditions which means that a person achieves or that a category that the person is assigned but is now a dynamic process.

The first stage is contact, it is the statue that white people are uneducated about the realities of privilege, discrimination, and racism. There are only two opposing beliefs first, everything White is superior and everything minority is inferior and two, racial and cultural differences do not matter. This stage will eventually lead the dominate culture with increased exposure to other individuals with different backgrounds to move on to the next stage.

The second stage is Disintegration, this statue states that White people are in some contact with ethnic minorities that their judgement and wisdom about racism is shattered. This statue increases the experiences with people of color which leads to information that is incompatible with a persons preconceived notion about them so the contradiction causes cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a confusion a person has when they receive two contradictory beliefs or ideas and this confusion is triggered by a situation where a person’s belief clashes with new evidence from the person of color. The third stage is reintegration, this statue is when white people resolve conflict by falling back to the same comfort and acceptance of their own racial group and communities

The fourth stage is pseudo-independence, this statue is when White people begin to acknowledge the realities of racism but believe that blacks are the ones who need to change, not whites. This statues also mentions that White people may reach out to African Americans offering to help but only by imposing White standards. They may also struggle to find a new White identity because they lack positive influence to help accomplish this struggle. Although immersion/Emerson begins to form a more positive White identity. Eventually the Whites explore their own culture by learning the diversity and what it means to be White in a diverse society. They soon focus on changing Whites attitudes and learn to let go of their own racist attitudes and fight others about theirs.

Finally stage is autonomy, this statue is when White people are comfortable with their white identity, they also understand that racism is connected with other forms of oppression and will also work to address the other forms. This stage also represents the accomplishments is a positive White racial identity this explains that white people are comfortable with being white and also find other racial groups mutually enhancing. This stage expand sensitivity to include other forms of oppression to come together to combat discrimination.

Overall, cultural Identity development creates questions for all groups and the tripartite model of personal identity the second level, the group level of personal identity focuses on similarities and differences and with Janet Helms six stages including contact, disintegration, reintegration, pseudo independence, immersion/Emerson, and autonomy. These statues help a White person understand what White Identity is and to fully understand the differences between other cultures and how white people have privileges and for Whites to learn about discrimination and racism.

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Personal Cultural Identity. (2020, May 14). Retrieved April 20, 2024 , from

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