Given that these issues are ever present in our lives, it is helpful to have a general understanding of the psychological impact of these issues. When we are a member of the dominant culture/group, whatever that dominant culture/group is, we might experience a plethora of thoughts and emotions: pride, fear, powerful, guilty, shameful, complacency, indifference, etc. These reactions impact how we view ourselves, as well as our actions. What do we do with these thoughts and emotions? How can we become aware of how they may impact us on a personal level as well as how they may impact how we interact with others? And how can we become more aware of power and privilege on a larger, systemic level? When we are a part of the dominant group, it may be easier to find and make friends with people who are similar to us, to succeed in many of our ventures, and to generally feel good about ourselves. Conversely, we may feel guilty and engage in behaviors to overcompensate for that guilt.
A variety of reactions occur associated with being a member of the non-dominant culture/group: fear, anger, sadness, pride, helplessness, excitement, rejected, blaming, challenged, respectful, empowered, etc. These reactions can also impact how we view ourselves and how we engage with others. We may become more isolated, we may experience difficulties in finding success, and these could lead to anxiety and depression. When we experience these challenges, it can be helpful to look for others to connect with and to share our experiences. Conversely, as a member of the non-dominant culture/group, we may feel motivated to engage with others and affect change, thus helping to improve the conditions for our community.
Regardless of which culture/group we belong to, it is incumbent on us to reach out to others, be it mentors, friends, family, teachers, counselors, or even to a stranger. It is helpful to share our unique perspective with others and to learn about other unique perspectives. This can be done by taking a class focused on a culture different than ours, engaging with student groups on campus that encourage intercultural interactions, and engaging in activities through Intercultural Programs.
We at the Counseling Center value self-exploration and gaining a deeper understanding of how our identities within dominant and non-dominant cultures/groups play a role in our lives. This self-exploration can enrich our lived experience, helping us to live more authentically and purposefully. As this process can be confusing as well as exciting, the Counseling Center provides a open, safe, and confidential space in which you can explore these issues.