Assessing The Discrimination In Society Cultural Studies Essay

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In this paper I will talk about discrimination in society and will use two novels Black like me by John Griffin and The color of the water by James Mc Bride. I choose these novels because in both stories I could find examples of discrimination in different ways.

In summary, the first novel is about a man called John, who undergoes a series of treatments to change his skin color temporally to black. He is a white man and wants to be black men because he wants to know the truth about Negro community. During this time he finds prejudice, oppression and racism because when he was on the street, he experiences difficulties and insults and always heard the word "nigger" from every street corner.

The second novel talks about James McBride´s mother called Ruth McBride. Ruth came to America when she was a two years her family is Jewish. Ruth married Andrew Dennis McBride, a black man from North Carolina. She suffered isolation and had a lonely life; shunned by whites because she was Jewish and discriminated by blacks because she was white. In both novels the mean characters suffers contempt by other people and they have a difficult life for their characteristics.

First, I think that is important to know the definition of discrimination because it is a big problem in society and have affected the relation among people.

"Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based solely on their membership in a certain group or category. Discrimination is the actual behavior towards members of another group. It involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups" [1] . According to the definition when a person is rejected for another person and do not have the same opportunities occurs discrimination.

Nowadays, discrimination is a conflict that has affected to many people because around the world there are millions of people with differents ways of thinking, physical characteristics and beliefs.It has caused rejection between different societies. But, also discrimination is a problem that has arisen over the years. For instance, "The Ku Klux Klan was the most feared and powerful mob in post Civil War America because they were terrorists who believed in the inferiority of blacks and therefore resented the rise of former slaves to a status of civil equality and often to positions of political power" [2] .

This mob is a clear example of prejudice and discrimination taken to an extreme because they were responsible for many deaths and promoted xenophobia and the supremacy of the withe race, homophobia, racism, anticommunism and anti-Catholicism. Often, these organizations have engaged in terrorism, violence and intimidation as the burning of crosses, to oppress their victims.

We can see that discrimination has existed for many years and it has provoked social differences in different aspects as religion, races, sex genre, etc. All this type of discriminations has caused the formation of groups with perjudices. "Prejudice can be defined as human behavior which denies or attempts to deny equality of opportunity or status to certain racial, religious, or ethnic groups" [3] . It is a social problem because it has broken relationships among people. Sometimes, prejudiced behavior is predetermined by the community in which a person lives. Also, prejudices are negative manifestations of intergrative power because they do not hold people together, otherwise it pushes them apart. Discrimination produces effects in aspects as psychological, social and economic domains. The effects could be the loss of self worth, a sense of alienation from the society and inequality.

These days, discrimination has become a big problem in society and exist many types of discrimination as racial discrimination, employment discrimination, national origin discrimination, religious discrimination, etc.

Now, I will explain each type of discrimination and the consequences that it has in society. Also, I will use both novels "Black like me" and "The color of the water" to demonstrate that discrimination has caused conflicts among people with different characteristics.

First, "Racial discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because he or she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features" [4] . Also, it occurs when someone is treated unfavorably because the person is married or has a relationship with a person, which belongs to another race or has a different color. Besides, the racism affects the racial discrimination because it is hatred toward another person or the beliefs that there are inferior people.

One important feature of racism is toward Blacks and immigrants because Blacks are seen by racists with contempt and sometimes they have been treated like beast. "She answered rudely and glared at me with such loathing I knew I was receiving what the Negroes call "the hate stare". This was so exaggeratedly hateful and I realized I had done nothing - my color offended her" [5] . According to this quote black people are discriminated by white people and they are contempt for their color. As in the above quote said the main character, who decides to change his skin color to black to discover the life of a black person, discovers that they receive a hate stare and the color is a problem in everywhere.

On another hand, in the novel "The color of the water" we can find many examples about racial discrimination and the author talks about the reality of his mother´s identity.

"White folks, she felt, were implicitly evil toward blacks, yet she forced us to go white schools to get the best education. Black could be trusted more, but anything involving blacks was probably slightly substandard. Most white folks I knew seemed to have a great fear of blacks" [6] .

"Suffolks was one -horse town back then, one big main street, a couple of movie theaters one for black folks, one for white folks a few stores, a few farms nearby, and a set of railroad tracks that divided the black and white sections of town" [7] .

These quotes show us the differences between two societies Blacks and Whites and these are examples of racial discrimination. Black people are rejected for the color of their skin and white people believe that black people are inferior. The origin of this difference is largely the color of the skin and racism against black people. Prejudices have caused that discrimination increase the attacks against the black community and people have used violence, corruption and intimidation towards Blacks.

As a second point, "Employment discrimination happens when a job seeker or an employee is treated unfavorably because of his or her race, skin color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or age" [8] . Nowadays, this type of discrimination frequently occurs and people do not have the same opportunities to find a good job. For this reason there is more unemployment and these people do not have enough money to buy food and cover their needs.

"Equal job opportunities" Mr. Gayle said that´s the answer to much of the tragedy of our young people. Many sincerely think the Negro, because of his very Negro-ness, could not possibly measure up to white standards in work performance. I read recently where one of them said that equality of education and job opportunities would be an even greater tragedy us" [9] .In this quote young people do not have the same opportunity to find a good job because of they are black. Some people do not accept black person as a worker because they believe that these people are not able to perform a good performance. Black people have to work very hard to earn money, but in many cases they do not receive a good salary, so they have a difficult life in society.

As a third point, "national origin discrimination involves treating people unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background" [10] . This discrimination has affected to immigrants because they are seen as inferiors for their origin. Sometimes, they are insulted and the don have the same rights and they suffer violence. In our society many people go to another country to find a better life, but they know that during the travel they can die. But when they achieve to stay in the country, they suffer abuses in the work and do not receive a good salary or do not have the same opportunities in schools or everywhere.

"I perceived to be imminent danger from black and whites who dislikes her for being a white person in a black world" [11] .according to this quote James's mother tells us her childhood as a poor Jewish immigrant in the United States. She realized that is difficult live in another country between two different communities. Besides, American people show her nonchalance because her family is poor and they have different customs, behavior and traditions. For this reason Ruth´s family suffered discrimination and she had to endure humiliations.

As a third point, "Religious discrimination is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe. Religion is a stimulant of prejudice in discrimination" [12] . Black people and minority ethnic communities use religion to express their identity but often they do not have a specific protection against discrimination.

There is ignorance and indifference towards ethnics groups and their beliefs and traditions are rejected by others communities. For instance, in the book the color of the water Ruth´s family were Jewish and went to America because they wanted to have a better life; however they were seen with indifference. "The folks loved anything different, or news, or from out of town, except for Jews. In the school the kids called me "Christ killer" a "Jew baby". That mane stuck me for a long time "Jew baby". You know it is so easy to hurt a child" [13] . In this quote we have an example of religion discrimination, in the school James´s mother was discriminated because of her religion and her classmates insulted her and she was excluded of this group. Nowadays, in Mexico this discrimination has decreased because in all the schools must be open to all members, regardless of their faith. Students should not discriminationed because of their faith, their religious dress, their beliefs or their religious expression.

On the other hand, discrimination has strong consequences and there is inequality. It has provoked that many people do not have the same rights that others and they are seen like slaves. As consequence it could cause the creation of groups to fight for their rights and it coud represented a menace to society. Discrimination causes that each person has a value and some people feel superior. Sometimes, acts of discrimination have a negative effect: For instance, denial of a right, a good service and the denial the equal worth. Also, occurs a violation of a persons' identity and this fact can cause people start to fight agaist discrimination. These rebellions could cause violence and sometimes death.

Racism is one of the most principal causes of rebellions around the world because there is difference between white and black people. This racial discrimination has affected that people do not have the same worth and equal. It is important to mention that through history black people have suffered humiliation and were seen like slaves because they had to work very hard without a good salary.

In the book "Black like me" the author Jonh Griffin describes the historical contexto in this period.The novel starts on October 28, 1959, and ends on August 17, 1960. This was a period of bitter racism practiced by the whites toward the black people

During this period, America was separate and unequal societies one black and one white and there was not a communication between the two parts. For the blacks, there was a racial discrimination, oppression and inequality. They suffered so much and lived poverty, hunger and homelessness. They were not protected, did not have a good employ and they did not have healthcare or welfare. Besides, Black people were persecuted and hated that´s why they suffered injustice and did not have a good salary. White people oppresssed Blacks and were victims of police brutality and prejudicial treatment because they did not have a justice system. Moreover, Blacks did not have equal civil rights and this social alienation broke their liberty. Consequently, they were pessimistic with a violent angry. They could only dream equality and justice becuase they were rejected by the white community.

On the other hand, white America was divided between North and the racist South, so the war against Negro slavery started in the North under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, while in the South discrimination against blacks was maintained for much longer.

But after, Martin Luther and other revolutionary leaders marched on Washington demanding their rights, getting equal rights and better opportunities. As we can see this book has always been controversial. It has been rejected and protested, and many do not believe it should be available to young people, due to the facts about racism and the subject matter it contains.

Finally, Discrimination has affected the fundamental values of a modern society. It is a big obstacle to practice democracy because of hierarchies and preferences based on gender, ethnic origin and wealth. It has caused the limitation to achieve of equality. Equality and human rights belong to all people and without discrimination of any kind people would live with harmony and equality embedded in the notion of human rights itself.

Moreover, victims of discrimination experience suffer acts and situations of contempt, so one act follows another and the totality becomes to develop racism. Discrimination is performed in several different contexts; For instance, in the job, schools, in restaurants due discriminate people do not have the access to good services. Often, racist people discriminate with expressions of intolerance, such as verbal abuse, intimidation and violence. I think that any discrimination such as, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, religion or belief or any other opinion should be prohibited because it does not allow developing the union among races.