Racism is something something we've all witnessed. Many people fail to believe that race isn’t a biological category, but an artificial classification of people with no scientifically variable facts. In other words, the distinction we make between races has nothing to do with genetic characteristics. Race was created socially, primarily by how people perceive ideas and faces we are not quite used to. The definition of race all depends on where and when the word is being used. In U.S. history, the meaning of the label “white” has changed over time, eventually adding groups like the Italians, Irish and Jews. Other groups, mainly African, Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and Asian descendants, have found the path for worldwide social acceptance much more difficult. The irregular border of ethnicities touch educational and economic opportunity, political representation, as well as income, health and social mobility of people of color.
So where did this type of behavior begin? There are many ideas thrown around as to how racism began, though the truth lies in the history of mankind. Before people were able to travel and experience difference groups of people, we predominantly stayed in the same kind of area with the same kind of people. We feared things that were different, and were lacked the power to face those kinds of things. All this changed once we did, in fact, obtain this level of human advancement, but the fear never drifted. The truth is, racism began as soon as people faced those of different races. We’ve always the fear of change, not to mention the unknown.
It seems that is racism has been around so long we would have been able to overcome it as our species developed, but contact with those of whom we are afraid of often lead to disputes, which, in time, is what caused racism to transform from people simply disliking each other, to the permanent and indestructible foundation of common racism and prejudice.
Contemporary racism is said to have been derived from many places, one of the most common ideas being upbringing. As a child, you are reliant on your parents to help you become who you are. Part of that involves their own, distinct opinions, that of which children don’t have the maturity to form on their own. They need the help of their parents, and this is often where the problem starts.
If you were told that all Asians were sneaky or all Whites are evil or all Blacks are criminals, you can bet that you are going to feel this way about them. “Upbringing is the largest cause of racism”-Anonymous. Even if we allow yourself to get to know some of them, this will always be in the back of your mind.
Another suggestion as to how racism makes it’s way into our heads is through the almighty media. As we grow up, media becomes a factor of our lives whether or not we want it to be, and is also a major source of how racism keeps itself active. Since the 70’s the media has been giving us racial labels, one of the largest supplies coming from crime shows like “Law and Order”, and “CSI”. When dealing with crime, people of color are reflected in the demarcation of “them” and “us”. Whites are often represented as the “good guy”, or the strong, law obeying citizens. They often target people of color, sometimes without any sort of evidence. Directors and writers use racial stereotypes to make a more complex story with more suspects.
In the novel, “The Power of One,” by Bryce Courtney, a young, white, African boy named Peekay lives in a world where the government, the country, and the world revolves around racism. World War II is coming to an end, and in South Africa, the whites seem to hate the blacks just as much as the blacks hate the whites. Peekay was raised by a compassionate and loving black woman he refers to as “Nanny”, due to the unsafe conditions at home with his bad, mentally ill mother. He grew up with Nanny and his best friend, who was also black. To Peekay, racism didn’t exist.
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