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Race and Ethnicity: Introduction to Sociology

By nickpatel23 Sep 26, 2014 1540 Words
BLS 2003 8/20/14 Prof. D. Joseph
Final Exam
Question 2
The terms stereotype, prejudice, discrimination, and racism are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation. But when discussing these terms from a sociological perspective, it is important to define them: stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about groups of people, prejudice refers to thoughts and feelings about those groups, while discrimination refers to actions toward them. Racism is a type of prejudice that involves set beliefs about a specific racial group. As stated above, stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about groups of people. Stereotypes can be based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation—almost any characteristic. They may be positive (usually about one’s own group, such as when women suggest they are less likely to complain about physical pain) but are often negative (usually toward other groups, such as when members of a dominant racial group suggest that a subordinate racial group is stupid or lazy). In either case, the stereotype is a generalization that doesn’t take individual differences into account. Where do stereotypes come from? In fact new stereotypes are rarely created; rather, they are recycled from subordinate groups that have assimilated into society and are reused to describe newly subordinate groups. For example, many stereotypes that are currently used to characterize black people were used earlier in American history to characterize Irish and Eastern European immigrants. Prejudices are fueled by stereotypes, an exaggerated or distorted belief or image about a person or group. Stereotypes assume that everyone in a group the same characteristics, leading people to falsely believe that "they" are all alike. Even when the stereotype suggests positive traits (for example, that women are nurturing), everyone is hurt because these images leave no room for individual differences.
No one is born believing stereotypes -- they are learned from media, or parents, peers and many other sources. Social scientists believe that children begin to learn prejudices and stereotypes as early as two or three years old. Even though they don't fully understand what prejudice is, young children may repeat racial slurs or act out stereotypes they see in the media. For example, a group of girls may tell a boy that he can't play house because it's a girl's game. 
As they are exposed to more stereotypes, young children tend to form attachments to their own group and develop negative attitudes about other groups. As these attitudes deepen over a person's lifetime, they are difficult to change. As they get older, people tend to see the things that support their views and disregard or ignore experiences that challenge them.  I do not think this that if we promote only positive stereotype, then it will be helpful for the society as whole to react positively all the time. However, I think positive stereotype does not necessarily stop racial discrimination, because there are some positive stereotypes that can make other people feel uncomfortable. One of the examples of positive stereotype is that Chinese people are good at mathematics. What can we assume from this perspective that except Chinese, all other groups are bad at mathematics? This positive stereotype underestimates the power of other racial groups too. Besides that, I think people should not pay heed to such generalization about any group, because if someone gets involved in these things, then it’s even harder to come out of; because that really affects your mind completely. As it is mentioned above that we are not born with having stereotypical thinking, but learn them from parents, peers, school. Then, I really think we should terminate this concept of stereotype from its roots by not teaching our children about such things. Teaching about stereotype promotes negative and positive stereotype forms. Positive teaching can lead us to the right path that includes no discrimination and other negative principles.

Question 4
Today people of color continue to be disproportionately incarcerated, policed, and sentenced to death at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. Further, racial disparities in the criminal-justice system threaten communities of color disenfranchising thousands by limiting voting rights and denying equal access to employment, housing, public benefits, and education to millions more. In light of these disparities, it is imperative that criminal-justice reform evolves as the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Racism is an ongoing force that negatively impacts the lives of Americans every day. Also, the race is determine by color skins. The racist mindset in America stems from the times of slavery, where blacks were thought to be inferior to whites. Throughout history, the ideas of race and racism has evolved and developed several different meanings. Today, we can still see the devastating effects of racism on people of color, as well as whites. “Racism, like other forms of oppression, is not only a personal ideology based on racial prejudice, but a system involving cultural messages and institutional policies and practices as well as beliefs and actions of individual” (Tatum, pg. 9). As a result of this system, it leaves the oppressed at a great disadvantage in society. This includes access to social, cultural, and economic resources and decision-making. . From the time of slavery, to the present, racism has had many destructive and negative effects on the people in our society. White people have more opportunities than black, such as in education and employment, etc. The United States has chased violent law implementation strategies to limit the use and distribution of illegal drugs. Relative to their numbers in the general population and among drug offenders, Black Americans are excessively arrested, convicted, and imprisoned on drug charges. According to reading 26 by David Cole, in Baltimore, blacks are five times more likely than white to be arrested for drug offenses. In Columbus, black males are less than 11 percent of the population, but account for 90 percent drug arrests; they are arrested at a rate eighteen times greater than white males. Similar racial gap are found in confinement rates for drug offenses. From 1986 to 1991, the number of white drug offenders jailed in state prisons increased by 110 percent, but the number of black drug offenders by 465 percent. Thus, the victims of the war on drugs have been overly black. Some argue that this is neither surprising nor problematic, but simply reflects the unfortunate fact that the drug problem itself extremely burdens the black community. If more blacks are using and selling drugs, equal enforcement of the drug law will lead to unreasonable arrest and incarceration of African Americans. As a result, the imprisonment of such a high proportion of young African American males for drug crimes will have significant adverse long term effects on the black community. A criminal record makes it much more difficult to find a legitimate job and disable thousands of young black men at the beginning of their careers. I do not agree with this because, although whites are relatively untouched by anti-drug efforts compared to blacks, supporters of the drug war may not see a problem of race discrimination. Because they do not believe the purpose of drug law enforcement is to harm blacks if anything, drug law enforcement is seen as protecting minority communities from addiction, harassment, and violence. According to Devah Pager, a criminal record has a significant negative impact on hiring outcomes, which even for applicants with otherwise appealing characteristics. Yet, a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer. Besides, the negative effect of a criminal conviction is substantially larger for blacks than for whites. The ratio of the criminal record penalty suffered by black applicants is roughly double the size of the penalty for whites with a record. This interaction between race and criminal record is large and statistically important, which indicates that the penalty of a criminal record is more restricting for black job seekers than whites. The number of crimes enhances the chances of suspicion against black people, because of racial discrimination black people have been faced many problems. Furthermore, employers hesitate to hire any black person due to the criminal history regarding blacks. Some employers might fail some black based on the criminal background that is not directly related to them, but they face consequences indirectly. The effect of race was very large, equal to or greater than the effect of a criminal record. For example, the survey audited 350 employers, 150 by white and 200 by black team (pg.232). Only 14 percent of black men without criminal record were called back, a proportion equal to or less than even than the number of whites with a criminal background. This research shows that this discrimination is based on race, every illegal and illegitimate activity intentionally or unintentionally involves blacks, because of their historical notoriety. However, people neglect the history of blacks being slaves of white, when they were ruled over by whites and were being unjust. Despite that fact, people today do not hesitate to think of blacks first when any crime is committed, because somewhere in the past, blacks had committed some crimes. Thus, the discrimination between whites and blacks is somehow lesser than before, but there are still some places where racial discrimination exists and deprives blacks of their rights being the lawful citizen if this country.

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