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This interdisciplinary guide is intended to serve as a portal to library and online resources related to diversity and cultural competency.
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ACC: Faces of Our Mission

Dr. Susan Warner Thomason, Director, Instructional Development Services, produced this video for an Austin Community College faculty workshop.  We are including it here because it celebrates not only the diversity of the students at ACC, but also of the diversity of courses and programs the College offers to match interest, talent, and potential with achievement.

Diversity and Austin Community College

What Is Diversity?

Diversity, simply stated, is difference--the characteristics and experiences that make us uniquely who we are.  We promote the understanding of diversity as a celebration of differences and identification of similarities.  Fred Rogers (1928–2003), children's television producer and star of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," is quoted often on this topic:

"As different as we are from one another, as unique as each one of us is, we are much more the same than we are different. That may be the most essential message of all...." (Fred Rogers Company)

“What's been important in my understanding of myself and others is the fact that each one of us is so much more than any one thing. A sick child is much more than his or her sickness. …. A pediatrician is more than a medical doctor. You're MUCH more than your job description or your age or your income or your output.” (Quotes, Goodreads)

"Diversity refers to the variety of differences and similarities/dimensions among people, such as gender, race/ethnicity, tribal/indigenous origins,
age, culture, generation, religion, class/caste, language, education, geography, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, work style, work
experience, job role and function, thinking style, and personality type." - Julie O’Mara and Alan Richter, Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World



    “The ideology of including people of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds in an organization's workforce, faculty, student body, or customer base.  ‘Multiculturalism as an ideal has been regarded both as the entitlement of cultural groups and as a form of civil rights grounded in human dignity and the equality of cultures. It is seen as a move toward interculturalism, the beneficial exchange where cultures learn about each other (Anderson & Collins, 2007). Cultural diversity is an essential component of multiculturalism, leading to a broader representation of perspectives, worldviews, lifestyles, language, and communication skills. Acknowledging diversity suggests that subordinate groups are not necessarily required to give up their identity or assimilate to dominate norms (Lum, 2004; Weaver, 2005). For dominant groups, this may mean that new ways of relating to those of different cultures need to be acquired.’” 

    (2008). Multiculturalism. In Terry Mizrahi & Larry E. Davis (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social work. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 Feb. 2014, from

    As a descriptive term, multiculturalism refers to the coexistence of people with many cultural identities in a common state, society, or community. As a prescriptive term, it is associated with the belief that racial, ethnic, and other groups should maintain their distinctive cultures within society yet live together with mutual tolerance and respect. Advocates of multiculturalism often propose going beyond traditional liberal principles of tolerance for members of other groups toward acknowledgment of their positive value.

    The development of multiculturalism as an intellectual theme and social movement has been most prominent in the United States—although it has spread rapidly to other countries. Debates over the content of education in the 1970s and 1980s were pivotal in this process. These centered primarily around multiculturalist arguments for expanding the curricula to include the history and work of marginalized groups (e.g., African Americans, Native Americans, women, immigrants—and later Hispanics, Asians, gays, lesbians, and other minorities). They also urged enlarging the canon of “great works” to include texts originating outside the Western tradition.  (2002).” 

    (2002). Multiculturalism. In Craig Calhoun (Ed.), Dictionary of the social sciences. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2014, from



    "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction."  -- Audre Lorde

    Our Dead Behind Us Quotes.  Good Reads.  Lorde, A. (1994).  Our Dead Behind Us: Poems.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company.


    What is Cultural Competence/Competency?

    "Cultural competence refers to the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each."

    (2007).  Indicators for the achievement of the NASW standards for cultural competence in social work practice. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers Press.   p. 12-13.

    Cultural competency is "the capacity to function effectively in cultural settings other than one's own.  This will usually involve a recognition of the diversity both between and within cultures, a capacity for cultural self-assessment, and a willingness to adapt personal behaviors and practices."

    VandenBos, G.R. (Ed.). (2007). APA Dictionary of psychology. 1st ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. REF BF31 .A63 2007 

    Cultural competency goes beyond diversity, enabling us to communicate our appreciation and respect for our differences in order to teach, assist, care for, and work with one another.



    “Even-handed treatment. Equity requires that relevantly similar cases be treated in similar ways. For example, two persons doing the same job in the same way with similar results for the same employer would expect the same pay. Again, it would be inequitable if two individuals committed the same crime in similar circumstances, but received quite different sentences. Equity is therefore closely connected to equality, and to the rule of law. Controversy arises from the delineation of relevant similarity: the notions of equity and precedent both raise this problem.”  

    Reeve, A. (2009). Equity. In Iain McLean & Alistair McMillan (Eds.),The Concise oxford dictionary of politics. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2014 from



    "Inclusion refers to how diversity is leveraged to create a fair, equitable, healthy, and high-performing organization or community where all individuals are respected, feel engaged and motivated, and their contributions toward meeting organizational and societal goals are valued." - Julie O’Mara and Alan Richter, Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World

    “Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.” - Andres T. Tapia, The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity, 2d. ed.


    Vega, T. (2014, March 21). Students see many slights as racial ‘microaggressions’. New York Times

    The term "microaggressions" (first used by Dr. Chester M. Pierce, a professor of education and psychiatry at Harvard University, in the 1970s) describes "the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture."

    The Microaggressions Project, founded in 2010, and its blog "seeks to provide a visual representation of the everyday of 'microaggressions.'" Events, observations and experiences have been posted by people from around the world and, according to the New York Times article "the site has had 2.5 million page views from 40 countries."


      Stereotype Threat

      Two pychologists, Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson of Stanford University, coined the term "stereotype threat" in 1995. 

      Stereotype threat has been described as the mere existence of cultural stereotypes that assert the intellectual inferiority of members of  diverse groups.  It creates a threatening intellectual environment for stigmatized individuals--a climate where anything they say or do is interpreted through the lens of low expectations. "Young white athletes fear that they will not perform as well as their black peers, for example, and women in advanced math classes worry that they will earn lower grades than the men." 

      It has also been described as a fear of failure that reinforces negative stereotypes of an individual's social group.  "Even subtle reminders of prejudice against one's sex, race or religion can hinder performance in school, work and athletics."  Neil de Grasse Tyson, African American astrophysicist and science communicator, has said "In the perception of society my academic failures are expected and my academic successes are attributed to others. To spend most of my life fighting these attitudes levies an emotional tax that is a form of intellectual emasculation. It is a tax that I would not wish upon my enemies." [Yong, E. (2013). Armor against prejudice. Scientific American, 308(6), 76-80.]

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