Prejudice has been apart of human beings since the beginning of time. Peoplehold disparaging views towards other groups because of sex, race, color andreligious beliefs. If our society hopes to move forward and continue to beproductive, prejudice must stop.
In a time when the world is advanced as it everhas been, prejudice still remains a major problem. Discovering the roots ofprejudice, and being able to understand prejudice views, we as a society will beable to find solutions to stop it. To understand prejudice, we must firstconsider all the factors that contribute towards it, and then find a way tocounter these factors one by one. Prejudice 3 The Roots of Prejudice There is nosimple one-word answer to the question of what causes people to be prejudice.
The result of prejudice stems from many complex mixtures of environmentalfactors, upbringing, media, economic status, and finally experiences. With thisbeing stated, what is the main factor for prejudice, and what can we as asociety do to overcome prejudice views? When prejudice is mentioned, one tendsto think of white and black conflict, but prejudice views can also be held aboutwomen, age, religion, and other ethnic people. To begin to understand the rootsof prejudice, it must first be defined. Prejudice is an attitude held toward themember of some group, based solely on their membership in that group.
How peopledevelop their attitudes and stereotypes of other people is where the root ofprejudice begins. By learning how and why prejudice views take root, societywill learn to change these negative opinions. Groups of people who holdprejudice outlooks about other groups of people tend to process informationabout these groups differently from the way they process information about othergroups. The individual traits and behaviors do not affect how they are viewed,unless their behavior reinforces the prejudice opinion already held. There is abelief in our society today that things are much better racially now then ahundred years ago. The media portrays this idea daily.
This statement can beclassified as being somewhat true, but we as a society still have a long way togo to achieve racial harmony. Development of Prejudice There is still anenormous public display and denial of prejudice in our society. According toEarl Hutchinson: The most dangerous example of public racial denial is themilitia and patriot movements. Prejudice 4 They depict themselves asanti-government activists fighting to preserve American freedoms. Theyexorcised derogatory references to blacks, Jews, Asians, Gays, and Feministsfrom their public statements and writings. The media and some civil rights andliberties groups back them up and print their writings.
These groups may differin tactics from the old Klan, Nazi Party, and John Birch Society, but they stillunite three points: White Christians must rule America, the federal governmentis the enemy, and violence is the only accepted means to gain control. (1996,p.87) When the media covers these groups, they give them free publicity and achance to be heard.
Opinions are not only formed from the news, but also fromtelevision, magazines, and radio. For a long time, there were very few programsthat portrayed blacks, Asian, Gays and other ethnic people in a positive manneron television. Even today, there can be an argument that very few televisionshows are geared towards minority races. For example, look at the popular showsFriends, Frazier, and The X-Files, none of which have a mainminority character. By not having a positively portrayed minority on theseshows, the media is helping prejudice. Media, television and radio are allcontributing factors towards prejudice views, but not the only factors. TheTradition of Prejudice People learn from a young age to form opinions, values,beliefs, and stereotypes from their parents.
Because parents and environmentplay such a major role in childrens upbringing, it should be pointed out thatthis is one of the main contributing factors towards forming prejudice views.When children hear their parents saying something prejudice, or observe themacting a certain way towards a group, the child begins to form the sameopinions. By forming the same Prejudice 5 beliefs as their parents, they areinheriting prejudice behavior. Their environment plays just as an important rolein forming prejudice views. Children who come from a poor isolated area havefewer experiences to draw their own differing opinions from their parents. Whena child comes from a more educated, less isolated environment, they have moreexperiences to draw their own opinions from. This can help explain why in thesouthern part of the United States people had, and still have a hard timechanging prejudice views.
David Goldfield pointed out, white childrenlearned, and were taught at an early age that whites were supreme, and thereforecertain relationships with blacks were not acceptable (1990, p. 12).Goldfield goes on to explain how the southern view of blacks and minorities waspassed on to generation after generation by stating: Southern white childrenlearned these lessons in school and recalled them with parents and relatives,the past becoming more romantic and less challenged by contrary opinions witheach passing generation.
This was a society that passed down its heritageorally. Southerners lived or visited among extended kinship groups, where atleast one member could recall either directly or through a close relative theEden of the Old South, the sacrifice and suffering of the war, and the socialand racial givens that emanated from this history. Southerners worshipped theirpast; it became their present, and it colored their vision of the future. (1990,p. 17) By showing how the south passed on prejudice towards blacks and otherminorities as a tradition after the civil war, one can now learn how and why theroots of prejudice become learned traits. Learning how prejudice is passed onfrom parent to child, we can look for ways to stop the tradition of prejudice.Today, the south does not continue to have such a strong tradition of Prejudice6 prejudice, but the roots can still be found.
For example, just recently inTexas, three white men dragged a black man behind their car, killing him. Inwhat became a national media event because of the gruesome and raciallymotivated murder, one can see the seeds of prejudice were planted in the threewhite males at an early age. They all belonged to white supremacist group andadmitted to killing the black man so they could move up to a higher positionwithin the group. Even in our society today, discrimination and prejudice canlead to violence, especially when race is involved.
Racial prejudice is not theonly issue facing our society today. There are many forms of gender prejudiceand discrimination as well. Prejudice Towards Women According to Baron andByrne, More than half of the worlds population is female. Yet despite thisfact, in many cultures females have been treated like a minority group (2000p.239). In our society, many strides have taken place to further women rightsand equality, yet we still have predominate prejudice towards women.
Laws havebeen passed world wide to help make prejudice against women illegal, like thelaws to help stop racial prejudice, nonetheless society has turned to a moresubtle prejudice. Examples can be found throughout our society and the world toprove this statement. How many American Presidents have been women? Look at thereaction to women officials in the NBA.
How many women are CEOs, professionalcoaches, racecar drivers, military leaders, the list goes on and on. With halfthe worlds population being comprised of women, you would think they wouldhold at least a majority of these positions. Covert prejudice is instead how oursociety has learned to be prejudice towards women. Once again, we have certainlymade strides from the past where women were suppose to be bare foot andpregnant, however we still have a long way to go.
A prime example ofprejudice towards Prejudice 7 women in our society can be found from our formerVice President Dan Quayl when he publicly scrutinized the show MurphyBrown for depicting a single working mom having a child out of wedlock. Thesecond most powerful man in the world was being prejudice towards women forworking and not staying at home with their children. He was blasted by some ofthe media, yet he still found quite a few followers from our society. Societyhas come along way with beliefs of the roles of women, but we certainly have alot further to travel.
Another example I would like to present is one that Iexperienced in a military Equal Opportunity Training class I participated in.The instructor began the class by stating she would give an example of genderprejudice if we would listen to her story and then write down the answer. Iconsidered myself to be a very unbiased gender person and looked forward totaking the test. She stated, a man and his son were traveling and slid on theice. The father was instantly killed and the son was taken to the emergency roomin critical condition.
Upon arrival, the doctor came out stated they could notoperate on this patience for he was their son. The instructor asked us toexplain how this could be. My mind raced to come up with the answer. Maybe theboy had a step father, or the boys dad was gay and the doctor was hispartner.I was sure I had came up with the right answer, after all I believedI did not hold any bias.
The simple answer that the doctor was his mother neveroccurred to me. Even I have a long way to go with my own gender prejudice, justlike our society. Women have always fought an uphill battle in our society infighting gender prejudice.
To better understand the history of women fightinggender prejudice in our society, I quote Veraware.com: American women havehistorically been victimized by discrimination in suffrage (which was notsecured until a 1920 constitutional amendment), employment, and other civilrights (for Prejudice 8 many years, for example, women were denied the right toserve on juries). In the late 1960s the women’s movement experienced a rebirth,and the demand for legal equality with men was pressed not only againstdiscriminatory practices but also against outmoded attitudes toward the role ofwomen in society. Some gains against discrimination in employment were made as aresult of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 1972 Congress passed the Equal RightsAmendment (ERA) to the Constitution and submitted it to the states forratification.
With only 35 of the 38 state legislatures ratifying the amendment,however, the necessary approval was not secured by the 1982 deadline. Byunderstanding the historic battle to overcome gender prejudice, society is ableto better learn the steps needed to stop the spread of prejudice and come upwith solutions. Solutions to Prejudice The roots of prejudice in our society areprevalent in many combinations of factors such as, upbringing, environment,media, and finally experiences. Understanding the roots of prejudice are thekeys to solving the spread of it. First of all, I believe society must keeppassing laws against prejudice and fight it through government policy as statedby Holly Sklar: We need vigorous debate over how to reshape policy in the publicinterest – not the pseudo debate of false campaign promises, negative politicalads and talk radio hate-mongering.
Rights and “entitlements” familiartoday – among them the eight-hour day, minimum wage, Social Security and theright of workers to organize and bargain collectively – were obtained in theface of strong opposition. Many of these achievements are being eroded.Demagoguery is threatening democracy. To realize community over chaos we mustnot only protect old Prejudice 9 gains, but forge new social, political andeconomic rights for the 21st century.
(1995, South End Press) Continuing to passlaws to stop prejudice is a good start, but not the only solution. Society mustlearn to educate our children throughout their lives on how to deal withprejudice and give them the skills to overcome discrimination. Brian Aullstates: Even our federal government is at a loss in dealing with a problem thatis rapidly evolving into a full-blown national crisis. The problem persistsbecause we have avoided addressing it for what it really is – a social disease,virulent and infectious, woven into the moral and spiritual fabric of society,passed from parents to children, from one generation to another, for over threecenturies. The civil rights laws failed to thwart the growth of the cancer ofracism, because they only dealt with two of the disease’s symptoms – segregationand discrimination – but not with the disease itself.
(AAR, Internet) I believethat education and the continuous passing of laws will help stop prejudice atits roots. Finally, I note that the media plays a big role in how society formsprejudice views, especially towards blacks. Authors Kurt K. and Jason T.surveyed the media for a report and stated: One of the most influential and mostprominate forms of media is the television. Many young Americans watch musicvideos, which depict blacks as gangsters, drug dealers, and murderers. Manymovies also seem to show this portrayal of blacks, such as Boyz in the Hood, ablack film about life in the Los Angels community.
Newspapers and news showsreport the crimes of blacks because it is more interesting but this form of newsis dangerously influencing young Americans to perceive blacks in a negativemanner. (1997, Internet) Prejudice 10 Changing the medias portrayal ofprejudice in our society will help people overcome their stereotypes anddiscrimination of other groups. All three of these solutions are a good firststep in overcoming prejudice, but no one solution will be the only answer tosolving the problem in our society.
Applying all three solutions, education,reformed media, and continuous passage of new laws will help squash prejudice atits roots. Conclusion There are many contributing factors to the roots ofprejudice in our society, no one factor greater than the other does. Certainly,upbringing and environment seems to be an inherit factor that leads totraditional views of prejudice. While media, experiences and economic factorscontribute to the on-going problem of prejudice in our society. The solution toovercoming prejudice in our society seems to lie in the ability to educate andtrain our children from a young age. This will help give children the tools andskills necessary for stopping the spread of prejudice in our society.
Also,reform of the medias portrayal of gender stereotypes and racial stereotypesneed to be addressed. In order to fulfill a society with gender equality, wemust allow women to hold higher jobs and positions of authority throughout oursociety. After all, women make up over half of the worlds population. No onesolution will be the only contributing factor in changing societiestraditionally held prejudice, but a combination of all three will help stopprejudice at its roots. Finally, we as society must want to change as whole inorder to stop prejudice. Our society has taken a lot of steps in the past 400years in overcoming prejudice as whole, but we still are a long ways away fromachieving complete gender, racial, religious and ethnic harmony. As quoted byMaya Angelou, We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry,and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal inPrejudice 11 value no matter what their color.
Or as Gavin Bush says,Racism is a product of fear and ignorance. The world is richer for themixture of different types of peoplelive and let life remove fear.BibliographyHutchinson, E.
(1996). Beyond O.J.
race, sex, and class lessons for america.Middle Passage Press Goldfield, D. (1990). Black and white and southern racerelations and southern culture 1940 to present. Louisiana State University PressBaron, R. & Byrne, D.
(2000). Social psychology ninth edition. A PearsonEducation Company Versaware Inc, (1999). Internet, www.funkandwagnalls.com Aull,B. (1999).
Internet, www.artstistsagainstracism.com/educate. Sklar, H.
(1995,South End Press) Internet, www.southend.press. Angelou, M. & Gavin, B.(1999) Internet, www.artstistsagainstracism.com/educate.Religion