Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo
College Success

9.4 Inclusivity and Civility: What Role Can I Play?

College Success9.4 Inclusivity and Civility: What Role Can I Play?

Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Exploring College
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 Why College?
    3. 1.2 The First Year of College Will Be an Experience
    4. 1.3 College Culture and Expectations
    5. 1.4 How Can This Book And This Course Help?
    6. Summary
    7. Rethinking
    8. Where do you go from here?
  3. 2 Knowing Yourself as a Learner
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 The Power to Learn
    3. 2.2 The Motivated Learner
    4. 2.3 It's All in the Mindset
    5. 2.4 Learning Styles
    6. 2.5 Personality Types and Learning
    7. 2.6 Applying What You Know about Learning
    8. 2.7 The Hidden Curriculum
    9. Summary
    10. Career Connection
    11. Rethinking
    12. Where do you go from here?
  4. 3 Managing Your Time and Priorities
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 The Benefits of Time Management
    3. 3.2 Time Management in College
    4. 3.3 Procrastination: The Enemy Within
    5. 3.4 How to Manage Time
    6. 3.5 Prioritization: Self-Management of What You Do and When You Do It
    7. 3.6 Goal Setting and Motivation
    8. 3.7 Enhanced Strategies for Time and Task Management
    9. Summary
    10. Career Connection
    11. Rethinking
    12. Where do you go from here?
  5. 4 Planning Your Academic Pathways
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Defining Values and Setting Goals
    3. 4.2 Planning Your Degree Path
    4. 4.3 Making a Plan
    5. 4.4 Managing Change and the Unexpected
    6. Summary
    7. Career Connection
    8. Rethinking
    9. Where do you go from here?
  6. 5 Reading and Notetaking
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 The Nature and Types of Reading
    3. 5.2 Effective Reading Strategies
    4. 5.3 Taking Notes
    5. Summary
    6. Career Connection
    7. Rethinking
    8. Where do you go from here?
  7. 6 Studying, Memory, and Test Taking
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 Memory
    3. 6.2 Studying
    4. 6.3 Test Taking
    5. Summary
    6. Career Connection
    7. Rethinking
    8. Where do you go from here?
  8. 7 Thinking
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 What Thinking Means
    3. 7.2 Creative Thinking
    4. 7.3 Analytical Thinking
    5. 7.4 Critical Thinking
    6. 7.5 Problem-Solving
    7. 7.6 Metacognition
    8. 7.7 Information Literacy
    9. Career Connection
    10. Rethinking
    11. Where do you go from here?
  9. 8 Communicating
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 An Overview of Communication
    3. 8.2 Purpose of Communication
    4. 8.3 Communication and Technology
    5. 8.4 The Context of Communication
    6. 8.5 Barriers to Effective Communication
    7. Summary
    8. Career Connection
    9. Rethinking
    10. Where do you go from here?
  10. 9 Understanding Civility and Cultural Competence
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 What Is Diversity, and Why Is Everybody Talking About It?
    3. 9.2 Categories of Diversity
    4. 9.3 Navigating the Diversity Landscape
    5. 9.4 Inclusivity and Civility: What Role Can I Play?
    6. Summary
    7. Career Connection
    8. Rethinking
    9. Where do you go from here?
  11. 10 Understanding Financial Literacy
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Personal Financial Planning
    3. 10.2 Savings, Expenses, and Budgeting
    4. 10.3 Banking and Emergency Funds
    5. 10.4 Credit Cards and Other Debt
    6. 10.5 Education Debt: Paying for College
    7. 10.6 Defending against Attack: Securing Your Identity and Accounts
    8. Summary
    9. Career Connection
    10. Rethinking
    11. Where do you go from here?
  12. 11 Engaging in a Healthy Lifestyle
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 Taking Care of Your Physical Health
    3. 11.2 Sleep
    4. 11.3 Taking Care of Your Emotional Health
    5. 11.4 Taking Care of Your Mental Health
    6. 11.5 Maintaining Healthy Relationships
    7. 11.6 Your Safety
    8. Summary
    9. Career Connection
    10. Rethinking
    11. Where do you go from here?
  13. 12 Planning for Your Future
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 Why Worry about a Career While I'm in College?
    3. 12.2 Your Map to Success: The Career Planning Cycle
    4. 12.3 Where Can You Go from Here?
  14. A | Conducting and Presenting Research
  15. B | Recommended Readings
  16. C | Activities and Artifacts From the Book
  17. Index
Estimated completion time: 10 minutes.

Questions to consider:

  • Is it my fault that I have privilege?
  • How long will diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts continue?
  • What is to be gained by cultural competency?

Privilege Is Not Just for White People

Privilege is a right or exemption from liability or duty granted as a special benefit or advantage. Oppression is the result of the “use of institutional privilege and power, wherein one person or group benefits at the expense of another,”9 according to the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak Peck School of Social Work.

Just as everyone has implicit bias, everyone has a certain amount of privilege, too. For example, consider the privilege brought by being a certain height. If someone's height is close to the average height, they likely have a privilege of convenience when it comes to many day-to-day activities. A person of average height does not need assistance reaching items on high store shelves and does not need adjustments to their car to reach the brake pedal. There’s nothing wrong with having this privilege, but recognizing it, especially when considering others who do not share it, can be eye-opening and empowering.

Wealthy people have privilege of not having to struggle economically. The wealthy can build retirement savings, can afford to live in the safest of neighborhoods, and can afford to pay out of pocket for their children’s private education. People with a college education and advanced degrees are privileged because a college degree allows for a better choice of employment and earning potential. Their privilege doesn’t erase the hard work and sacrifice necessary to earn those degrees, but the degrees often lead to advantages. And, yes, White people are privileged over racial minorities. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s explanation of how he was treated when people assumed he was White as opposed to how people treated him when they assumed he was Black?

It is no one’s fault that they may have privilege in any given situation. In pursuit of civility, diversity, equity, and inclusion, the goal is to not exploit privilege but to share it. What does that mean? It means that when given an opportunity to hire a new employee or even pick someone for your study group, you make an effort to be inclusive and not dismiss someone who has not had the same academic advantages as you. Perhaps you could mentor a student who might otherwise feel isolated. Sharing your privilege could also mean recognizing when diversity is absent, speaking out on issues others feel intimidated about supporting, and making donations to causes you find worthy.

In pursuit of civility, diversity, equity, and inclusion, the goal is to not exploit privilege but to share it.

When you are culturally competent, you become aware of how your privilege may put others at a disadvantage. With some effort, you can level the playing field without making yourself vulnerable to falling behind.


Think about a regular activity such as going to a class. In what ways are you privileged in that situation? How can you share your privilege with others?

“Eternal vigilance is the price of civility.”

The original statement reads, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” History sometimes credits that statement to Thomas Jefferson and sometimes to Wendell Holmes. Ironically, no one was paying enough attention to document it accurately. Still, the meaning is clear—if we relax our standards, we may lose everything.

Civility is like liberty; it requires constant attention. We have to adjust diversity awareness, policies, and laws to accommodate the ever-changing needs of society. Without the vigilance of civil rights workers, society could have lapsed back into the Jim Crow era. Without activists such as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Flo Kennedy remaining vigilant, women might not have made the gains they did in the 1970s. Constant attention is still needed because in the case of women’s earning power, they only make about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Constant vigilance requires passion and persistence. The activism chronologies of Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, students, labor, and other groups is full of stops and starts, twists and turns that represent adjustments to their movements based on the shifting needs of younger generations. As long as there are new generations of these groups, we will need to pursue diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Your Future and Cultural Competency

Where will you be in five years? Will you own your own business? Will you be a stay-at-home parent? Will you be making your way up the corporate ladder of your dream job? Will you be pursuing an advanced degree? Maybe you will have settled into an entry-level job with good benefits and be willing to stay there for a while. Wherever life leads you in the future, you will need to be culturally competent. Your competency will be a valuable skill not only because of the increasing diversity and awareness in America, but also because we live in a world with increasing global connections.

If you do not speak a second language, try to learn one. If you can travel, do so, even if it’s to another state or region of the United States. See how others live in order to understand their experience and yours. To quote Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” The more we expose ourselves to different cultures and experiences, the more understanding and tolerance we tend to have.

The United States is not perfect in its practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Still, compared to much of the world, Americans are privileged on a number of fronts. Not everyone can pursue their dreams as freely as Americans do. Our democratic elections and representative government give us a role in our future.

Understanding diversity and being culturally competent will make for a better future for everyone.


  • 9Golbach, Jeremy. “A Guide to Discussion Identity, Power, and Priveledge.”
Do you know how you learn best?
Kinetic by OpenStax offers access to innovative study tools designed to help you maximize your learning potential.
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Jan 27, 2022 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.