The Color Of America Essay, Research Paper
The Color of America
Americans have the tendency to make judgments based on appearances. A man dressed in dirty, torn rags walking down the street would be considered poor and homeless. Women that dress in tight clothes or short skirts are almost instantly categorized as being promiscuous. Unfortunately, stereotypes negatively affect the ability to understand members of a different group or ethnicity, and people are usually resistant to change because of them. Various groups of people are stereotyped for many reasons, but none like different ethnic groups in this country. America is one big melting pot of culture, religion, and ethnicities. Because of this, many different ideas and beliefs conflict and racial discrimination is created. The most common stereotypes are those which are aimed at different ethnic or racial groups.
African-American stereotypes are the most obvious. People have often stereotyped young black men as gang members solely because of the kind of clothes they wear. The media constantly blasts images of black men involved in crime and gang-banging across the six o clock news, but hardly ever the White or Asian doing the same. If one black man is a criminal, so are the rest of them. This acquisition places all black males together in a group. Whatever happened to individuality? What is the point of classifying races together? Just because one black man robbed a liquor store doesn t mean that every other one will too. To think this is ignorant and stupid. Every human born in this country has the same rights and freedoms as another. Each person has a chance to make their life into whatever they want it to be, regardless if they are black, white, purple, or green. People have also stereotyped African-Americans as the largest ethnic group on public assistance, which is not true at all. It just seems that way because people are ignorant to the fact that whites make up most of the welfare system. They are also stereotyped as superior to other races concerning sports. They can jump higher, run faster, and have better balance because of their extra muscles. It may seem this way when we watch sports on television, nonetheless though it is a stereotype.
White people in America often think of themselves as the true form of Americans. In Growing up in America, Bonnie Kae Grover states that whites treat America as if they founded it, abusing the fact that American Indians were here long before they were (377). Maybe this is where racial discrimination originates. The mere fact that one race thinks that it has supremacy over another is enough to start a civil war all over again. Grover argues that too much of white culture is built on stamping out culture that isn t white, or culture that isn t white enough, or even culture that just doesn’t happen to be the correct brand or shade of white (377). Ostracizing people because they re not white is a common thing in America. It happens everyday, regardless of affirmative action laws.
It is truly amazing that one man can have so much anger towards another, simply because of his skin color, that he would think to harm him. Everyday in America, people are killed just because they are different. It is equally ridiculous that someone should be scared of another just because he is black . In Cool Like Me , Donnell Alexander explains the behavior of his white neighbor. During the day, she sees a black man; at night what she sees in the shadow gliding across her patio is a nigga (367). Alexander s neighbor is clearly afraid of him because he is a black man. She thinks that because she is white, and he is black, he poses a threat. Maybe she thinks that he will rob her. Maybe she even thinks that he will kill her. Whatever the reason, she is discriminating against him because he is not white. Alexander says, Black cool is banished to music videos, sports channels, and UPN so whites can visit us whenever they want without having us live right next door in the media mix. Most of the time, white folks really don t want to be part of black cool. They just like to see the boys do a jig every once in a while (370). In the recent case involving the trial of O.J. Simpson, many Americans sat in front of the television watching to see if the alleged murderer would be acquitted. Needless to say, many Americans found themsleves taking sides with either the Simpson or Kidman family based on their own race. Larry Fisher captured this moment in his picture The Acquittal of O.J. Simpson (373). The picture depicts a large group of diverse adults eagerly watching the results of the trial together in a small room. Fisher captured their reactions at the moment the decision was read in court. The African-Americans in the picture explode with happiness, while the white people look disappointed and confused. This picture clearly demonstrates how in situations like this, racial siding is almost guaranteed and people will continue to stick with their own kind.
So if there is so much hostility between races, then why do many young white kids look to the black culture for insight on how to be cool? Young children in today s society are constantly looking for some role-model or fashion to copy. African-American culture has a sharp edge to it. Kids of all races are influenced by black fashion, music, and sports. Alexander argues: Cool is all about trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents. It s about living on the periphery, diving for scraps. Essential to cool is being outside looking in (368). There is a certain smoothness to the black culture that has always existed and always will. Americans must learn how to appreciate this lifestyle just as that of Chinese, Spanish, and Indian.
Stereotypes are products of our own individual inadequacies. They make us feel better about ourselves because we can point the finger at a person, and label not only him or her, but an entire group. Stereotypes seem harmless at first, but overtime they can cause serious damage to our society and lead to further racial discrimination. Because of them, we have become narrow minded and less receptive to people different from us. Stereotyping a person, or a group of people, is easier than it is to know them. Stereotypes are just another product of our society, which puts more value on what an individual possesses rather than who a person is. Sadly though, racial discrimination, along with stereotypes, will remain as long as different races coexist in America.