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September 18, 2014

Homework Help: english-check over work

Posted by ramla A on Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 10:54pm.

Prejudice is “a prejudgment, a conviction, reached beforehand, and shaped by preconceived ideas” (Baird pg 21). Most of the time it is a negative feeling of contempt towards people who are different than oneself. Prejudice is a recurring theme in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Set in Macomb, Alabama in 1935, the novel is told from the point of view of a little girl named Scout. Harper Lee uses the voice of Scout to narrate the events that unfold in the town one summer: the trial of Tom Robinson. Robinson is wrongly accused of raping a white girl named Mayella Ewell.
Ever since the beginning of our country, prejudice has been in existence. No matter where you go, you will come into contact with some form of prejudice. Prejudice can be as small as making a generalization against a group of people or in some cases it can lead to discrimination and/or making hate speech. Discrimination can then lead to something as severe as the lynching of a black man, the massacre of Native Americans, and other violent actions against certain groups of individuals. Even though prejudice is not as common in our society as it was in the early 1900’s, it still exists today. “Without a doubt the degree of oppression and discrimination has abated… However, significant discriminatory practices and policies still exist” (Alexander 3). In this essay I will talk about the sources and effects of prejudice, and ways we can start to overcome it. There are many sources of prejudice. Some of those sources include our upbringing, feeling superior to others, and the media.
One of the most important, and hard to overcome, cause of prejudice is our upbringing. Generally, prejudice is passed down from parent to children. “A child might subconsciously pick up beliefs about minorities from his or her parent because the child identifies with them” (Baird 119). Parents are one of the main contributors of prejudice in
young children. Children spend a great portion of their childhood at home with their parents. They are more than likely to pick their parent’s attitudes and beliefs about others. Whenever a parent tells a child not to interact with people of a certain kind, that parent is teaching his/her child to become prejudiced. “Children brought up in a rejective home, exposed to ready-made prejudices will scarcely be able to develop a trustful or affiliative outlook upon social relationships”(Baird 33). Children become influenced by what they see the people around them doing, thinking, or saying.
Furthermore, our parents are the main contributors to our social education. They teach us how to interact with other people in social environments. In Lee’s novel, Scout’s father teaches her and her brother, Jem, that it is wrong to judge others based on outside appearances. He teaches them all they need to know about life with memorable quotes. One of my favorite quotes from the novel is when Atticus says to his children, “There’s something in this world that makes men lose their heads- they couldn’t be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life” (Lee 233). Atticus tries his best to set a good example for his kids. He becomes a lawyer for Tom Robinson, despite the fact that he becomes a target for hate crimes. He does what he believes is right no matter what others think of him. “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets” (Lee 53). He doesn’t preach one thing and do something totally different. Yet as a society, we tend to hold on to the views of our predecessors, despite the changing times. “Attitudes from the past are still relevant, operating in present society and reflective in current policy areas” (Alexander pg 16). Another reason for prejudice in our society is feelings of superiority. Superiority is feeling that one surpasses another in rank or quality (superior). Many people feel that they are superior to others because of their economic status or beliefs. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, the Ewell family is looked down upon by the whole town because they are very poor. They are called white trash by even the youngest children of the town. “Every town the size of Macomb had families like the Ewells. No economic fluctuations changed their status” (Lee 181). Also, prejudice resulting from economic status is proven when Scout’s Aunt Alexandra forbids s her from playing with this little kid called Walter Cunningham, because Walter’s family is so poor that “he didn’t have any lunch today nor would he have any tomorrow or the next day” (Lee 26). Alexandra simply tells Scout, “There is no doubt in my mind that they are good folks. They are not our kind of folks” (Lee 236). These words are “a tendency to protect the genetic integrity of one’s own group. These kinds of words also lead to feelings of prejudice against people who are not as fortunate as others.
Furthermore, the media also encourages prejudice. They tend to blow things out of proportion. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, the media was focusing on how the hardest hit people were African-Americans. Instead of telling us as a society that we should come together to help those whose lives had been destroyed, the media seemed encourage conflict between whites and blacks. “… Politicians, sections of the media, and so on, are guilty of appealing to prejudices against minority groups to further their own ambitions” (Stevens). It seems as if they play the race card a lot. The media is our main source of information. It provides entertainment while also providing us with information. The media sets the agenda for which problems we should focus on in our society. So if the media provides us with prejudiced information, it stands to reason that it will also be an effect of our prejudiced beliefs.
Consequently, violence is one of the prevalent effects of prejudice. For example in “Dallas, Texas on October 26three men ran up to two gay men eating in a park and began beating them. During the attack, the assailants called the victims ‘queers’ and ‘fags’. One of the victims, who was of Asian descent, was called anti-Asian slurs. After the beating, the perpetrators stood the victims against a wall and shot them execution style, killing one of the men and wounding the other” (Baird 9). This is one of the most severe cases of prejudice against other individuals. Or prejudice can also cause the death of an innocent man, as was shown in Harper Lee’s novel, when Tom Robinson was proven guilty for supposedly raping a woman, which then led to his death. In some other cases, prejudice can be as small as talking about the skin color of a person or saying something that might seem insignificant like calling somebody fat or saying women are inferior to men. Prejudice can also destroy relationships between people. For example, if a man believes that he is superior to women, that man is more than likely to have an unsuccessful relationship with a woman. Another effect of prejudice is that the individuals that have been prejudiced against develop low self-esteem. They might feel like they are inferior to the other race. As Tom Robinson says, “Mr. Finch, if you was a nigger like me then, then you’d be scared too” (Lee 207). These kinds of prejudices lead to the destruction of communities. That is why we as a society should come together in preventing prejudices from destroying our society.
The first step towards overcoming prejudice is “acknowledge its existence, whenever it does exist” (Baird 26). People tend to think that prejudice does not exist. They believe that by ignoring the problem, it will eventually go away on its own. In fact if we ignore the facts of prejudice it will only grow stronger-yielding to hatred- and more widespread. The second step is work together as a community in getting rid of prejudice. We should start with our children; because it easier to teach them not to be prejudiced, then to stop an adult from being prejudiced
On the whole, instead of contributing to the prevalence of prejudice, we should try be the stopping force. If prejudice becomes widespread in a community, it will more than likely contribute to the destruction of that community.

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