Prejudice Prejudice has been apart of human beings since the beginning of time. People hold disparaging views towards other groups because of sex, race, color and religious beliefs. If our society hopes to move forward and continue to be productive, prejudice must stop. In a time when the world is advanced as it ever has been, prejudice still remains a major problem. Discovering the roots of prejudice, and being able to understand prejudice views, we as a society will be able to find solutions to stop it. To understand prejudice, we must first consider all the factors that contribute towards it, and then find a way to counter these factors one by one. Prejudice 3 The Roots of Prejudice There is no simple one-word answer to the question of what causes people to be prejudice.
The result of prejudice stems from many complex mixtures of environmental factors, upbringing, media, economic status, and finally experiences. With this being stated, what is the main factor for prejudice, and what can we as a society do to overcome prejudice views? When prejudice is mentioned, one tends to think of white and black conflict, but prejudice views can also be held about women, age, religion, and other ethnic people. To begin to understand the roots of prejudice, it must first be defined. Prejudice is an attitude held toward the member of some group, based solely on their membership in that group. How people develop their attitudes and stereotypes of other people is where the root of prejudice begins. By learning how and why prejudice views take root, society will learn to change these negative opinions.
Groups of people who hold prejudice outlooks about other groups of people tend to process information about these groups differently from the way they process information about other groups. The individual traits and behaviors do not affect how they are viewed, unless their behavior reinforces the prejudice opinion already held. There is a belief in our society today that things are much better racially now then a hundred years ago. The media portrays this idea daily. This statement can be classified as being somewhat true, but we as a society still have a long way to go to achieve racial harmony.
Development of Prejudice There is still an enormous public display and denial of prejudice in our society. According to Earl Hutchinson: The most dangerous example of public racial denial is the militia and patriot movements. Prejudice 4 They depict themselves as”anti-government activists” fighting to preserve American freedoms. They exorcised derogatory references to blacks, Jews, Asians, Gays, and Feminists from their public statements and writings. The media and some civil rights and liberties groups back them up and print their writings.
These groups may differ in tactics from the old Klan, Nazi Party, and John Birch Society, but they still unite three points: White Christians must rule America, the federal government is 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 a chance to be heard. Opinions are not only formed from the news, but also from television, magazines, and radio. For a long time, there were very few programs that portrayed blacks, Asian, Gays and other ethnic people in a positive manner on television. Even today, there can be an argument that very few television shows are geared towards minority races.
For example, look at the popular shows “Friends”, “Frazier”, and “The X-Files”, none of which have a main minority character. By not having a positively portrayed minority on these shows, the media is helping prejudice. Media, television and radio are all contributing factors towards prejudice views, but not the only factors. The Tradition of Prejudice People learn from a young age to form opinions, values, beliefs, and stereotypes from their parents. Because parents and environment play such a major role in childrens upbringing, it should be pointed out that this is one of the main contributing factors towards forming prejudice views.
When children hear their parents saying something prejudice, or observe them acting a certain way towards a group, the child begins to form the same opinions. By forming the same Prejudice 5 beliefs as their parents, they are inheriting prejudice behavior. Their environment plays just as an important role in forming prejudice views. Children who come from a poor isolated area have fewer experiences to draw their own differing opinions from their parents. When a child comes from a more educated, less isolated environment, they have more experiences to draw their own opinions from.
This can help explain why in the southern part of the United States people had, and still have a hard time changing prejudice views. David Goldfield pointed out, “white children learned, and were taught at an early age that whites were supreme, and therefore certain relationships with blacks were not acceptable” (1990, p. 12). Goldfield goes on to explain how the southern view of blacks and minorities was passed on to generation after generation by stating: Southern white children learned these lessons in school and recalled them with parents and relatives, the past becoming more romantic and less challenged by contrary opinions with each passing generation. This was a society that passed down its heritage orally.
Southerners lived or visited among extended kinship groups, where at least one member could recall either directly or through a close relative the Eden of the Old South, the sacrifice and suffering of the war, and the social and racial givens that emanated from this history. Southerners worshipped their past; 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 other minorities as a tradition after the civil war, one can now learn how and why the roots of prejudice become learned traits. Learning how prejudice is passed on from 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 Prejudice 6 prejudice, but the roots can still be found. For example, just recently in Texas, three white men dragged a black man behind their car, killing him. In what became a national media event because of the gruesome and racially motivated murder, one can see the seeds of prejudice were planted in the three white males at an early age. They all belonged to white supremacist group and admitted to killing the black man so they could move up to a higher position within the group. Even in our society today, discrimination and prejudice can lead to violence, especially when race is involved. Racial prejudice is not the only issue facing our society today.
There are many forms of gender prejudice and discrimination as well. Prejudice Towards Women According to Baron and Byrne, “More than half of the worlds population is female. Yet despite this fact, in many cultures females have been treated like a minority group” (2000 p.239). In our society, many strides have taken place to further women rights and equality, yet we still have predominate prejudice towards women. Laws have been passed world wide to help make prejudice against women illegal, like the laws to help stop racial prejudice, nonetheless society has turned to a more subtle prejudice. Examples can be found throughout our society and the world to prove this statement. How many American Presidents have been women? Look at the reaction to women officials in the NBA.
How many women are CEOs, professional coaches, racecar drivers, military leaders, the list goes on and on. With half the worlds population being comprised of women, you would think they would hold at least a majority of these positions. Covert prejudice is instead how our society has learned to be prejudice towards women. Once again, we have certainly made strides from the past where women were suppose to be “bare foot and pregnant”, however we still have a long way to go. A prime example of prejudice towards Prejudice 7 women in our society can be found from our former Vice President Dan Quayl when he publicly scrutini …