What We Talk When We Talk About Prejudgement

2 February 2017

Heading up the workshops on tolerance within the community, especially in the wake of increasing crime in the city, I had begun to see some improvement between the African-Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasians that made up the local population—the school year began badly when one (African-American) boy apparently stole his (Mexican) friend’s girl (Caucasian) and began fighting one another, yelling racial slurs at each other, and threatening each other until it escalated to a level involving the other students, administration, and local community members.This balance was delicate and, as I would soon find out, that change was not to last. Since I was up and wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, I opened my e-mail only to find an urgent message from the local police department—where I’d been volunteering as a Crisis Support Team member for about four years. They needed me to assist in the relocation of a family after they suffered a home invasion—two surviving children needed to be placed in foster care after their whole family was butchered following a robbery in the middle of the day.Both boys had been hiding in the attic after they heard someone break down the door; the boys were found in a catatonic state. Of all ten members—grandparents, parents, and six siblings—only the two boys were left alive.

No small consolation that they survived only because the intruders didn’t realize the boys were even missing. In the years I’d been volunteering as a CST, I’d never seen a situation as gruesome as what happened to those two boys. It was for people like Damien and Troy—the two boys who survived the home invasion—that I decided to teach for a living.I wanted to be able to work with children and reach them before they were lost to the world, even in the wake of recent racial violence—I was a teacher at the school where the whole problem began. I needed to fall into my routine so that I could freshen up and be ready for work—middle school students were always packed with energy and no self-control. I would need all my reserves just to make it through the day, especially since social studies didn’t seem to hold their attention for very long.But today was Teacher Appreciation Day and students and administrators had planned activities—including staff lunch and prizes.

What We Talk When We Talk About Prejudgement Essay Example

I drove to school thinking about how to manage work while still worried about how I was going to arrange foster care for the two children who’d recently lost their entire family. After morning announcements, students read a poem they’d collaborated on—Glee Club and Journalism Club joined efforts in writing a poem that the Glee Club set to music and sang. It was a refreshing beginning for me.After announcements, I shuffled to class along with the students in the hallways. “Hey, Mr. Agamemnon! I need more time! ” carped one of my students as he begged for an extension on his research paper. I always found this nickname quite humorous—I know I looked nothing like a ruler.

My physical appearance was meager in many ways—I stood only 5’4” inches tall and weighed no more than 140 pounds—and was more diminutive than most of my middle school students. “You can have one more day to finish your paper, but no more I’d already given you too many chances”.Class resumed with no further delay and before long it was lunchtime. I joined my co-workers in the staff lounge, free of lunch duty and grading, so that I could enjoy Teacher Appreciation lunch. “I can’t believe that idiot killed his kids! What kind of man does that? ” Phoebe Black, white from head to toe and naive about most things in life, commented on the recent domestic violence incident she’d heard on the morning news. “How is it that a father can kill his own children? Only cold-blooded criminals could commit such an atrocity! Where did this man grow up? Her face red with anger and her blue eyes full of hate, Phoebe made careless comments on the effects of growing up ethnic—such as living in certain ‘areas’ of town that were riddled with high crime and violence and how people were ignorant and caused more problems for society. “How can those people be so low? ” asked Phoebe.

To this, Mike Perry—a former NFL linebacker towering 6. 6 feet tall and over 300 intimidating pounds—turned towards her and asked, “What do you mean by ‘those’ people? ” Shrugging her shoulders, Phoebe quickly responded, “You know…the people in that neighborhood.They are so low-class. ” “How can you link a person’s actions to their ethnicities? ” Mike asked indignantly. “Well, it’s so obvious because it always happens to those people. The crime rate is always high in those neighborhoods and all they do is drink and listen to music full-blast. ” All of Phoebe’s exposed skin glistened with beads of sweat as she explained what angered her so much.

“I mean, they are all on assistance and all they do is have kids and then leave them on the streets so they can then end up causing more problems. ” Nobody noticed when I entered the lounge.I was a fly on the wall about a topic I dealt with on a daily basis. I happened to live in the very neighborhood that made the morning news so I let them continue the discussion without calling attention towards me—I figured this information could shed some light on understanding what others felt about the crime those people committed on an apparent continuous basis. I silently shoveled food onto my plate hoping the conversation would not end badly. I couldn’t bear to be a volunteer CST person at work, too. “You cannot generalize people.

” Mike said almost on the brink of being upset at her comments. You can’t just put everybody in the same boat. ” “It’s just my observation. ” Phoebe hurled that response at Mike as though vomiting something her stomach could not digest. Zaynab, an Egyptian national and a World History teacher, had been enjoying her food. The perks of ‘special days’ included cuisine we would otherwise not enjoy. Our PTO sponsored our lunch and the most renowned Mediterranean restaurant catered our Teachers’ Appreciation event.

Zaynab, looking as though she’d not eaten in a month, sat at the table focused on nothing but the food before her.The minute she caught on to the discussion between Mike and Phoebe, she began choking. At first, I thought she ate something too spicy for her, but I realized it was shock that caused her to start coughing violently. “Dear heart, you have to be careful when you make judgments. People as a whole cannot be judged by actions of individuals. That’s called stereotyping and, if you’re not careful, THAT can label you AS prejudiced. ” Zaynab hoped the message would strike a chord with Phoebe, especially since she was the only white person in a room filled with minorities.

Well maybe I’m not a native Texan, but having been born in Georgia and brought up in California, I did learn a thing or two about the patterns people live by, which are very similar no matter where I have traveled. It’s always those people—living in poorer areas—who make others’ lives miserable. ” Phoebe was not giving an inch. Mike got up from his chair and went to get a cup of coffee in what seemed to me an effort to contain his nerves. All 300 pounds of him looked as though he were a volcano ready to erupt—his muscles tightened, his breath quickened, his face muscles twitched, and his overall semblance of peace left him.I myself was surprised at her ridiculous comments. How could this minute Georgia implant begin to understand what it was like to be of those people? Who was she to pass judgment on a group she not only didn’t belong to, but had no connection with? “Look Phoebe, I have to wonder what kind of life you’ve led if all you can judge is the actions of a few stereotypes.

” Mike looked as though he was trying to calm himself as he spoke to a frustrated Phoebe. “I am a black man who grew up in a white world.I’ve had to deal with my own sets of issues simply because I seemed to have been born with skin color that comes fixed with certain ‘expectations’ I refused to mold myself to. ” Phoebe looked on as she tried not to seem peeved by his response. “It wasn’t too long ago that I came to be a teacher because I was not fit to be in the corporate world, but not for the reasons people tend to assume. ” Mike let out a sigh that showed pain. “I worked at my parents’ corporation after I received my MBA and found that I had a knack for business.

I worked there for two years and became an executive within no time at all.It was not my parents’ wishes, for they wanted me to work higher up, but they let me make my way. It wasn’t long before people started talking about me and my parents. They said I didn’t really earn my way up, but rather rode my parents’ coattails to the level I’d achieved. Several made ‘observations’ that my being black was a guaranteed scholarship through any sport—which I received as a football player—and that my intelligence was irrelevant. As long as I could throw, block, and make plays, I was sure to ‘finish’ school with flying colors, just like all other jocks did. ” Mike became more impassive as he told more of his story.

Zaynab tried to steer the conversation to the food on the table and asked Phoebe to get her food—she tried to distract Phoebe from the topic. “No, I’m already over on my calories for today, so I won’t be eating any of this rich food. ” Phoebe explained. “I’ve struggled all my life with my weight. No matter how little I eat and how much I exercise, I am always remained fat and unhealthy. ” Part of me felt sorry for her because not only did she not have a good perspective on multicultural issues, but she was also struggling with her weight. It’s no wonder I would always see her eating very little.

Phoebe it is okay to cheat on your diet ever so often. ” Deflated, Zaynab tried to salvage the conversation. “No, I’m full. ”Phoebe didn’t like the idea, and she returned to the topic by illustrating it with the incident she heard about in the news. “I cannot forget about those poor children! Killed by their own father! ” Phoebe said with anger and building frustration because it seemed that nobody was on her side. “If somebody had just done something in time, those kids would not be alone and in this situation. ” Phoebe looked as though she was about to cry.

“Crime could happen to anyone without discrimination.Killing is a crime that does not discriminate against ethnic, racial, or class boundaries—it can be lethal to all. ” Mike tried to explain to her. ”It wasn’t just those people that suffered crime. ” Zaynab added. “Wait a minute, Phoebe, let me give you the right picture of those people you speak of. What do you think about me? ” I addressed Phoebe directly hoping she would calm down.

“What do you mean, Anastasio? You are a well-mannered, professional, and caring individual. ” Phoebe answered, confused at the question. “Why do you ask, Anastasio? ” “I appreciate your honesty, but there’s something you don’t know about me. I broke my silence and decided that I would try to intervene, even though I didn’t want to. “Let me introduce you to a part of me you have never met and never will. ” I started to tell Phoebe what it was like to grow up an orphan on the streets of New York. Alone, without a family to look after me, I often went hungry and turned to stealing just to keep my belly from aching.

Winters were hard to survive. “Without a family, without love and affection, and without someone to look after me, growing up in those parts of town was far from easy on any person, particularly a child.

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