Don’t be Racist: Observations of Racism within Southern California
In the textbook Sociology A Down-to-Earth Approach, James M. Henslin repeats a phrase coined in 1903 by Sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois ‘The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line—the relation of the darker to the lighter races.’ This is phrase that all American should take into deep consideration in regards to how humans treat one another because of the various skin colors there are in today’s society. In fact, most Americans are 99.9% similar to the people whom they believe to be the most different from, and the.1% difference that all humans have to one another is the most obvious to the naked eye, which is skin color, was said to my Sociology 1 class by Sociologist Frances Vu. Henslin states that the word race means the outer physical characteristics a group gains through its ancestors, which makes them different from other groups; he also defines racism as “ prejudice and discrimination on the basis of race” (314& 319). Therefore, racism has always been seen throughout American society, and can even be observed nowadays within Southern California.
Racism is still present in America, and people with African and Hispanic appearances are usually discriminated against by American society because of their skin color. Henslin defines discrimination as “an act of unfair treatment directed against an individual or group” (319). In the essay Just Walk on by: Black Men and Public Space, by Brent Staples he writes on how he was individually discriminated against by other people in the magazine company he was working for. Individual discrimination is defined by Henslin as “person-to-person or face-to-face discrimination; the negative treatment of people by other individuals” (321). When Brent was a journalist for a magazine company he wrote for, the magazine company office manager confused him for a burglar. Therefore, the office manager called security on Staples, so then the security guard’s started chasing Staples throughout the magazine company. The situation Staples went through shows individual discrimination by the office manager and the security guard’s, for the comparisons between him as a black male and a burglar caused confusion that led security to chase Staples within the magazine company. Another similar scenario occurred to Judith Ortiz Cofer in her essay, The Myth of the Latin Women: I Just Met a Girl Named María Ortiz Cofer experiences individual discrimination by a white man, who starts shouting Spanish names and phrases directly to her. As Judith was walking to her room with her new colleague, at a classy metropolitan hotel a middle age white man in a tuxedo stepped right in front of her way. He then rose his champagne glass directly to her and shouted “Evita!” (95). The well-dressed white man then began to shout again “don’t cry for me Argentina” and started singing the tune of “La Bamba” (95). The middle aged white man’s actions show individual discrimination against Judith because he is showing her unfair treatment directly to her face based of her Hispanic appearance. The biological physical characteristics attributed to Staples and Ortiz Cofer since birth has caused others to discriminate against them, which shows that racism is very much alive in American society.
Racism has always been a key factor in how the dominant group shows prejudice against minority groups in American society. Henslin defines dominant group as “the group with the most power, greatest privileges, and highest social status” (318). Henslin also defines the word prejudice as “an attitude or prejudging, usually in a negative way” and once again defines minority group as “people who are singled out for unequal treatment and who regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination” (317-319). Because Staples skin color was black, a white woman assumed he was a mugger, rapist, or robber. For instance, Staples starts his essay by saying...
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