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"...Everybody jumped on him, beat the hell out of him... Everybody was hitting him or kicking him. One guy was kicking at his spine. Another guy hitting on the side of the face... He was unconscious. He was bleeding. Everybody had blood on their forearms. We ran back up the hill laughing... He should have died... He lost so much blood he turned white. He got what he deserved" (Ridgeway 167.)
The skinheads who performed this random act of racial violence in 1990, had no reason to brutally beat their victim other than the fact that he was Mexican. Racism is objectively defined as any practice of ethnic discrimination or segregation. Prejudice is an adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
There are three basic forms of racism, open racism, violent racism, and covert racism. These basic forms of racism, although different in form, all have the same purpose, to promote racism. Open racism expresses freedom of racial thought and speech. Open racists promote their views strictly through persuasionary tactics. This form of racism is allowed in our society due to the First Amendment. Open racism is currently almost nonexistent and steadily declining, because it is considered politically incorrect and socially unacceptable.
Violent racism promotes racism through violence, fear, and persuasionary tactics. This form of racism is not protected by the First Amendment because it promotes violence to express its ideas. Unfortunately many violent racial groups claim they do not promote violence, and therefore these groups are protected by the First Amendment because not enough sufficient evidence exists to prove their violent intent
Covert racism expresses ideas of racism in disguised forms; sometimes the covert racist is not even aware of the fact that he is racist. "Racism, it is asserted, is no longer blatant: people are reluctant to express openly their dislike of and contempt for minorities. Racism, it is said, is subtle: it is disguised, kept out of sight." Avoiding minorities on the street and denial of a public benefit to a minority which would be awarded to a white are examples of covert racism. "Since it is no longer politically correct to openly express one's racist views, people therefore favor disguised, indirect ways to express their bigotry" .
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In the past, our society has seen many forms of major racial discrimination. One such topic that affected North America was the use of blacks as slaves. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century and into the early stages of the twentieth century, black people were thought of as inferior to the whites. Since no laws were passed at the time, plantation owners used many blacks as slaves. Before slavery was abolished, it hurt and killed an immense number of people.
During World War II (1939-1945), Adolf Hitler persecuted Jewish people by taking them to concentration camps. At these camps they would be gassed to death after doing hard work for the Germans. Another major event in history was the killing of many Soviets during Stalin's Great Purge. During this period, any Soviet citizen who was heard questioning or opposing Stalin's ideas for the country was quickly annihilated with the use of Stalin's Secret Service. Again, millions were killed because of one person's beliefs.
What causes racial prejudice? Our textbook gives these four reasons:
1. Influence of tradition
2. Psychological need of individuals to belong to a particular, identifiable group.
3. Building up ego by cultivating a feeling of superiority.
4. Usefulness of prejudice as an economic and political weapon.
Practically since the dawn of man's existence man has undoubtedly noticed differences between races. "Racism's presence throughout the formation of our culture is quite evident". Frequently throughout history the ethnic group with the most power has assumed that its race and culture are superior to others. The same incident occurred in America with the introduction of slavery. Throughout American history, racism has been strongly prevalent. "Racism's roots lie deep within the foundation of our society." These roots undoubtedly are the source for a great many of the racist groups and covert racism ideas found throughout our society.
Extremist social and political groups, particularly those advocating right-wing policies of racial inequality, promote racism as well. These groups serve as the epitome of racial thought and speech. Such as the following: John Birch Society, Ku Klux Klan, Knights of the KKK, Invisible Empire, NAAWP, White Aryan Resistance, American Front, Nazi Skinheads, Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations, The Order, and National Alliance.
A large source of the racism present in our society stems from one's pride in his own race. Many people, especially those associated with racist groups, find it necessary to put down other ethnic groups in an attempt to strengthen their own . This mode of thought and reasoning usually results in extreme hatred of other races and an overall sense of bigotry. Reasoning in this manner equates to many associated with racist groups.
Many times, we are not aware of the fact that discrimination can hurt us until something such as the Columbine High School crisis occurs. These teenagers were constantly made fun of because of what they wore, games they played, and people they were friends with. Even though they did not do anything to anyone else before the shootings, they were still taunted. Now, the same people who made fun of the shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klieboldt, have left many families with lost children.
Now that we know the problem what should be done? The answer seems quite simple; think before you speak. The textbook offers this advice. " If you have a strong belief about someone that can't be proven walk a mile in the other persons shoes." Here are some steps that we as students and members of society can do to combat this problem:
1. Consider your attitudes to see if they reflect prejudice. If so, consider the reasons or causes for your feelings.
2. Consider whether your prejudice shows discriminatory actions. If so, evaluate the justification of your actions and make a change.
Prejudice and discrimination are negative manifestations of integrative power. Instead of bringing or holding people together, prejudice and discrimination pushes them apart.
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2. Fairchild, Halford,. Discrimination and Prejudice; An Annotated Bibliography. Second edition. San Diego:Westerfield Enterprise, 1992.
3. Levy, Peter. Let Freedom Ring: A Documentary History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement. New York:Praeger, 1992.
4. Funderburg, Lise, Black, White and Other: Biracial Americans Talk about Race and Identity, New York: William Morrow & Co. 1994
5. Tocqueville, Alexis de, Democracy in America, Garden City NY: Doubleday, Reprint 1969
6. Hunt Elgin F., Colander David C., Social Science: An Introduction to the Study of Our Society, Needham Heights Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon 1996
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