Prejudice and Racism Have Shaped American History, as Evidenced in American Literature


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During English class this year, we studied and explored through literature and film, how racism and prejudice have affected and shaped our past, present and near future. Through books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, American Born Chinese, House on Mango Street and movies like White/Black, my perspective on the topic of racism opened up and changed. Before this study, I had not realized how so much of American history has been shaped by racism and prejudice and how it continues to impact present times. By reading House on Mango Street, and To Kill a Mocking Bird I was exposed to how racism impacted the lives of the characters and by reading and watching American Born Chinese, and White/Black I was made aware of how racism still occurs today. I found it shocking how serious and complex the problem of racism continues to be, and how many people are affected by it daily. An example of the media that really altered my perspective was when our class watched the documentary called White/Black. In this documentary, they found a white family and a black family willing to have makeup artists change their looks so that the white family looked like a black family and the black family, a white one. One of the requirements was that each family had to live with the other for the duration of the documentary. When the white family came into the shared house, the mother said that they should make sure they protect their personal belongings, because she feared the black family might steal them. By doing so, she revealed deep prejudices and a racist misconception that being black is associated with being a criminal. Another example was when the father of the black family, who looked “white” went into a golf store to buy shoes and play golf. Afterward he said that he was treated so differently because he appeared “white”. Both these scenes shocked me because I had never realized how large of a problem racism continues to be today and how it affects almost everyone.

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"Prejudice and Racism Have Shaped American History, as Evidenced in American Literature." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Dec 2017
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When the white family instinctively protected their belongings, they showed how they had responded to cultural stereotypes towards blacks. It was the same when the black father was given a different quality of service just because he appeared white. These experiences opened up to me how complicated and challenging the issue of racism is in the world today and how hidden prejudices are revealed in everyday life.


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