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The Effects of Racial Diversity within a Modern Society: Racism Causing Racism
Racism, theorized to be a learned trait passed on from generation to generation. How is it that a society claiming to be “modern”, and void of barbarism, can unite so easily against its fellow humankind based singularly on the pigment of the outer layers of its flesh? Today’s society spreads the disease of racial diversity like maggots multiplying on a vetted corpse, while barking the political fantasies of racial indifference every day. Racism in our modern society may not be as open as lynching a black man in the town square, but the hate continues today in sometimes small, subtle ways. One of the theories describing the adaptive progression of race-hate lies within everything we see and hear in society.
The media, social environments, and even among the educated individuals preaching rehabilitation to those who directly affect the social stereotypes of public view we as a people, bombard with questionnaires, segregated groupings, and subtle hints that subconsciously divide the people we see on the streets. As a child, we are oblivious to the reasons behind diversity. A child will see a man walking his dog. His parents may see a black man walking a vicious, life threatening pit-bull. Although the assumption about the animal is sometimes colorblind, a black man with a pit-bull is rarely accepted as a friendly site to see in the park. Children may notice the difference between Black, White, Asian, or Hispanic people, but without some pre-determining knowledge of race, or how to react in a given situation that child will not react in a negative manner.
I personally tested this theory with my own daughter, Marley. We took a trip to the mall, where I introduced her to various different people of many different backgrounds. After each of the introductions, I asked Marley if she felt frightened or uncomfortable at any moment while conversing with each individual. As expected, she was comfortable with everyone she had met. Although Marley is only one child, I have raised her so far without acknowledging racial difference. I believe this has helped her be a more outgoing person and will continue to assist her in the future. Unfortunately, it is impossible to shelter her completely from other subconscious signatures of diversity such as the media.
The somewhat self-oriented, rating driven media has a way of contributing to the downward spiral decay of society as well. On almost every channel there is a news program directed at informing the public. Some may see it more as a twisted form of entertainment, similar to slowing down at an accident to watch the crimson blood flow freely like a raging delta from the severed neck of the poor victim in the passenger seat of a mangled sports car. Can we recall a moment when a black man, or woman was depicted as “successful” or awarded for good citizenship? The black community had always been portrayed as hostile in the media, but just as “sex sells”, so does violence. The Rodney King incident is a good example of the acceptance of racism toward in the media. The defense put on by the four white Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King in 1991 says it all. They claimed that they were fearful, and felt they may have been attacked, a legitimate excuse in the white American society. Their "fear" is a direct result of a deep-rooted media bias that anything black must be a bad thing. This media stereotype of “bad guys” wearing black, or that anything that is black is evil, has been festering for decades like a gangrenous wound on the right hand of society. The color association with evil or negative characters is exemplified in Western films as the “bad guy” always wore the black outfit.
Another example of media bias, illustrated in the 1994 Susan Smith case of South Carolina, deepened the stereotyping media obsession. Smith was a woman who made significant headlines when she claimed that a black male had kidnapped her two young children. Smith herself had killed them, but the grotesque use of the media frenzy when finger pointing at the black culture had, for a time, distracted from the real situation. This same runaway media train can also be guilty in the case of Charles Stuart in Boston. Charles had killed his wife, also blaming it on a black man. The media and its frivolous use of stereotypes have taken the racial stamp a step further in Hollywood. The portrayal of young black males involved in gangs and other acts of violence, has become a multi-million dollar industry. American society today has now accepted these stereotypes within the film industry. Films such as Boyz in the Hood and Menace II Society have become multi-million dollar success stories, while portraying young black males as uneducated “gangsters” with little or no future. This portrayal, over time, has birthed a false belief in white society that all black males are just as uneducated and violent. What the media refuses to acknowledge is that the vast majority of blacks hold successful careers, do attend school, and are not involved in gangs or other criminal activities. The success of the various races is rarely portrayed in the public media as the norm. Thus, society has only what they see and hear to rely on for information and social etiquette. With this type of heavy sided social acceptance, someone can easily wonder how society has progressed beyond slavery at all.
Racial segregation is not always as “in your face” either. Job applications are the best examples of one type of subconscious grouping. When asked to check the box, indicating race, this acknowledges the differences we see in ourselves. This acceptance of diversity seems harmless at first. However, looking at the vast vacuum of suggestions that flow into our subconscious by telling ourselves that it is “ok to check the box” can be a dam on the verge of catastrophic collapse if pushed in the right direction. Bursting with the force of thousands of tons of water flowing through society like a viral disease unannounced, the carriers unaware. Opening just a small door to acceptance is always the first step. In psychology, it is learned that all someone needs is a simple suggestion to coax an individual into thinking that your idea is his or her own belief. In Las Vegas, Nevada, Gerry McCambridge makes his living as “The Mentalist”. His show uses simple tricks to manipulate individuals, and the audience as a collective, into providing predetermined answers to his questions. Although his tricks are performed for entertainment, the show provides some insight into how easily a group of people can be manipulated into thinking they have their own “unique” ideas. When, in fact, the ideas and thoughts of the individual were never their own ideas in the first place.
Society as a whole needs to be more aware of the simple suggestions presented in the vast array of information thrown at each person every day. Whether the media runs away with itself, a show in Las Vegas takes control of our free will, or a simple check within a box causes us to separate ourselves from the general population, we should all take a second look at what is necessary to classify an individual, and really think before we act on first impressions. Although the days of lynching are now gone, racism is just as alive today as it was one hundred years ago.
Even in 1896, People New Racial Segregation Was Illusionistic At Best
“The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievement, in education, in wealth, and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the constitution, in the eyes of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, riling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates class among citizens….The destinies of the two races, in this country, are indissolubly linked together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law.” - Justice John Marshall Harlan, Dissenting in Plessly v. Ferguson, 1896.