They really are rather important.
There’s a TV show called Grimm—it’s rather enjoyable, check Hulu—that I’ve seen a few episodes of, but have let fall by the wayside.
One scene keeps sticking in my head—it’s a one-episode character looking at the protagonist and asking him to imagine what it’s like to have your culture totally suppressed by an alien majority. By the music, the lighting, the focus and the main character’s response, this is supposed to be a really, hugely sympathetic moment that questions the hero’s whole world-view and motivation in trying to do what he’s doing.
They’re talking about kidnapping those outside of the questioner’s group, torturing and then ritually murdering them in a rigged ‘hunt’ as a rite of passage. There’s implications that cannibalism (?) may be involved, too, although it’s rather indirect.
It really rang false with me, and makes me wonder—how much do you have to idolize the notion of minority culture for not ritually murdering outsiders to be something that causes a conflict?
On reflection, the character that asks it fits the stereotype of “acting white”— if you saw a screenshot, you’d peg him as an office drone in a second. Lawyer, I think, since the protagonist gets him to help stop the murder by pointing out how much legal trouble the murders would get into. ‘Cus you need law school to figure that out, right? *headdesk*