Most Americans can trace their ancestry back to some country across the oceans or the Mexican-American or Canadian-American borders. Each ethnic group has enriched our culture with its own particular types of music, food, customs, and dress. It usually takes two or more generations for the members of a new immigrant group to become sufficiently absorbed into the life of a community that they lose their separate identity. Some ethnic groups--mainly those of dark skin colors--never achieve total assimilation.
People concerned about and committed to improving intergroup relations must guard against such clichés as "I'm not prejudiced" and "I treat all people the same." Even the most "liberal" individuals do not treat all people the same. And, as shall be discussed in detail, they should not. All people are prejudiced for or against other people. However, it is behaviors, not attitudes, which comprise the major intergroup problems confronting managers and supervisors. There are many laws against discriminatory behaviors, but there are none against prejudicial attitudes. The ethnic prejudices found in neighborhoods, schools, and jobs come from two main sources: (1) the values and beliefs individuals learn from others, and (2) the tensions and frustrations all people experience while competing with other people, especially those who are culturally different. Race and racism, outgrowths of prejudice, disrupt organization behaviors ( Shepherd & Penna, 1991).
Although outmoded geography books, using color as a criterion, once divided people neatly into five races--white, yellow, brown, black, and