Humanity has been enduring an ongoing battle for centuries: the strained relations among the races. Despite efforts to put the past behind, signs remain at nearly every juncture that there still exists a strong sense of racial dissension. While many Caucasians do not see the problem being as severe as it is represented, African-Americans angrily reply that the lighter skinned race has not had to endure such prejudice and, therefore, cannot begin to identify with the situation. Frank Newport, vice president of the Gallup Poll Organization, says Caucasian Americans do not interpret racism as a big problem, therefore, they do not see a need for "government intervention" (Anonymous, 1997; 04A). Similarly, Asians, Hispanics and other United States minorities believe they often receive unfair treatment because of their race. However, President Clinton and several organizations -- including the National Multicultural Institute, whose main focus is to "sort out the jumble of expectations and fears that swirl around the initiative's struggle to reconcile ethnicity and difference with the notion of one American nation" (Green, 1998; PG) -- are pushing hard to mend racial tension with a comprehensive program that is designed to bring all races together. Will it work? Or will minorities look upon the effort as nothing more than a Band-Aid covering a much larger issue? To some extent, concepts such as affirmative action have their place in society, yet they will do nothing to alter an individual's perception of one race or another.
In the past, children’s racial viewpoints have routinely been shaped by their parents' perceptions. This is precisely how racial prejudice is passed down from generation to generation. However, today's teens appear to be breaking free of the antiquated procession by voicing their own opinions about race relations. While racial hate crimes continue to run rampant, the newer generation tends to believe there is less interracial tension than do their parents (Farley, 1997).
What has instigated this considerably lax attitude among the younger generation is not quite clear; yet a TIME/CNN poll has discovered that the adolescent population is far more forgiving of racial prejudices than their adult counterparts. Of twelve hundred, eighty-two adults and six hundred one teenagers aged twelve to seventeen; the younger sect demonstrated a considerable amount of racial tolerance toward one another when compared with the older respondents (Farley, 1997). If given the opportunity, children and young adults will not adopt negative views of other races if they are not placed in such an environment that encourages such thought. However, with the deep-seated hatred that has been bred into so many generations, it has become difficult for some of those prejudice intentions not to trickle down the family line. Yet the TIME/CNN poll was instrumental in establishing that a good number of adolescence of all races have successfully "moved beyond their parents' views of race" (Farley, 1997; 88+). To the kids with such an open mind, race is no more important to them in either a social or personal level; yet it is not to be overlooked that these same respondents were still able to recognize the fact that racism was one of America's biggest problems today. Even so, over one-third said the problem -- though it exists -- is insignificant (Farley, 1997; 88+). As it relates to their own lives, eighty-nine percent of the African-American adolescents who responded said the problem was small or did not exist at all. Amazingly, the Caucasian respondents – both young and old -- considered racism a more "dominant issue" (Farley, 1997; 88+) than did the African-American adolescent respondents.
What does that say about the varying impressions of race relations? Depending upon which race is viewing the issue, it appears the seriousness of the problem could be considerably damaging or an insignificant obstacle. Still, optimism is high that...
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