Contemp Lit, Per. 6
Malay Camp Essay
12 Jan 2009
Camping in Malay
People’s perceptions often cloud their judgments. As one lives his life, he notices the character of people and naturally tends to associate their character with a generalized group that they belong to. For example, one may have noticed that a tall man is good at basketball because he sees tall men play on professional basketball teams. He then assumes that tall men are naturally good at basketball and therefore tall men must play basketball. This generalization is untrue however because there are many tall men who are not skilled at basketball and therefore would prove his generalization incorrect. The misperceptions that we naturally have need to be analyzed thoroughly because it is nearly impossible to accurately generalize a whole group of people.
Generalizations are made about black and white people in the short story Episode in Malay Camp by Peter Abrahams, by the main character Xuma. “This is like the white people’s place” (5), said Xuma when he was referring to a place that was nice to live in. Dr. Mini quickly corrected him, “No, Xuma, not like the white people’s place. Just a comfortable place. You are not copying the white man when you live in a place like this. This is the sort of place a man should live in because it is good for him. Whether he is white or black does not matter. A place like this is good for him” (5). Xuma had lived his life with prejudices of what white people and black people are like, how they are different and what kind of living each one of them deserves. Dr. Mini corrected Xuma’s misperceptions by explaining that just because you belong to a certain culture or group does not make you a certain way.
Similarly to Xuma, I, too, am guilty of prejudging people based on their appearance. The most recent case in which I had incorrect perceptions of someone is when I met Ms. Rivera. Normally, seeing someone with dyed red hair and a lot of tattoos...