Experiences with racism and prejudice
Within this essay I will talk about my personal experiences with racial discrimination, as well as prejudice. Prejudice is an attitude that Judges due to ones social ties with a specific group (pg. 176). Every day life for my family, my husband and two children, can change at the grasp of a pocketbook or the grimace of a face. You may wonder, why?
Well my family is interracial. My husband is Black, Irish, and Puerto Rican and I am Cuban and Irish. This has caused multiple types of prejudices. Until recently I would have never guessed that the cause of these beliefs could be explained sociologically. Being brought up by parents whom lives parallel that of Tony and Maria, the two main characters of West Side Story. (see LM 4 video) The idea of racism was never instilled in me. An Irish man and a Cuban woman in the 1950’s stirred up Just as much controversy and hatred, as my husband and I do today.
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In my family we lived as if we were colorblind, we were oblivious to any color and treated everyone as quals. This belief in equality shielded me from the racial prejudice that I experienced during my adolescence. I feel a bit silly now to think of how naive I was to the fact that these issues still burned on today. As a New Yorker, we generally live in a culturally diverse society (pg. 34). Race has not been seen as a component of our socialization (pg. 49). That is our parents do not tend to spend a lot of time discussing the matter.
Racism when I grew up was not part of our culture (pg. 30). I assumed, incorrectly, that racism and discrimination were traits limited to the southern states (pg. 176). My first experience with prejudice happened while shopping in Target. My husband and I often frequented this Target, however, this day would be very different. We were accosted by an elderly white woman who berated us with questions like, “Do you know what you are doing to this country? Do you know what they are doing to our people? ” And, “He’ll be in Jail or dead. You will be divorced. He is a deadbeat and a drug attic. How could someone pre-Judge another human being before they have even heard him or her speak? She was stereotyping my husband. (pg. 178) Eventually the disrespect hit a nerve. I told her that she would have a tough time living in this world because we (interracial couples) are growing in number and soon it will no longer be “our” people, but the world’s people. (see figure 8. 4 pg. 191) She was not too fond of that. It seemed that in her eyes I had stepped down in status, by failing to adhere to the conformity of the social norms of her group (pg. 30 & pg. 81-82).
Thinking back on the matter now, I believe, that she had fallen victim to the ideas of group hate. She Justified ner hate by using the idea that we were to blame tor the economy, a scapegoat of sorts (pg. 177). Coming out of that interaction allowed me to see life without my “rose colored glasses”. What if I were to follow Charles Cooleys looking-glass theory, and Judge myself based on her reaction to us? (Pg. 52) Would I then have to change my life style? Obviously, this woman was raised in a house where it was the norm to discriminate due to physical markers.
Her socialization must have included these behaviors, leading her to then practice them until they became her social and cultural identity (pg. 49). I wish I could say that was the one and only incident where we have encountered discrimination, but it is not (pg. 76). Five years and one child later, my husband and I had brought our son to the park. When we arrived there was a group of children playing in the sand and naturally my son went over to play with them. Immediately two moms came over and grabbed their children. NO, NO, NO, we don’t play with kids like that”. Kids like that? How could you be so cruel to a child? Her children were then segregated from my son to the other side of the playground.
Needless to say I was utterly floored that someone could treat my child this way. To avoid lowering myself to her perception of s, I expressed my disgust in her behavior by telling her that because our children were present this would not turn out to be the fght it should be. How in 2011 have we not assimilated into one group? (pg. 83) Globalization has now affected almost everyone in our nation by giving immediate access to the knowledge necessary to put out the flames of hate (pg. 154-155). This was the single most eye opening experience of my life. I finally understood how racism is still prevalent in todays society. It is an ignorant idea that is taught and continues in a vicious circle. (See figure 8. 1 pg. 178) “Racial distinctions are social onstructs, not biological givens”. (See Power Point LM 4- Slide 5) If this is true then why are we still employing our children to see race as a biological characteristic?
In the two aforementioned instances both parties decided that I was white enough to constitute one race and my husband was black enough to constitute another, not seeing the truth, that we were both not of one pure race. I was asked a question; do I think that the two groups (Black & White Americans) will ever get over the idea of social stratification? No not we if we instill the idea in our children from birth to hate omeone due to color, sexual preference, religion or social status?
Our police still stereotype and perform institutional racism, for example the profiling of young black Americans. You can see the stratification in every aspect of society. In the Jails, schools, mass media and certainly our government. How can we break the cycle of ignorance if our children bear witness to the daily onslaught of bigotry? The ideas of multiculturalism allow opportunities for our children to embrace all walks of life. With that being said I am hopeful that we will one day get to a point that there will no onger be violent outbursts.