1. People have been racially grouped, isolated and discriminated against since the beginning of time. Race is defined as “a grouping of people who share common biological features that society deems to be important (Textbook Page 320).” To have included in a textbook definition of race that it is determined by what we find to be important speaks loudly of the society we’ve developed and the values it holds. People judge others on a scale of skin tone and facial features because, as seen throughout history, this is what seems to be the deciding factor concerning a person’s intelligence and ability, as well as their value. A commonly made mistake is interchanging the words race and ethnicity. The two have a relation, but are not the same thing. While race has to do with biology, a person’s ethnicity is their “shared cultural heritage (Textbook Page 322).” Ethnicity is inclusive of a culture’s customs and values, while race is a physical, biological set of traits that one can see.
During no span of time has there been an equality and respect amongst all races. One racial group is and always has been ranked at a higher level, resulting in tension and historically and currently, violence and upset. This is a result of the social definition of “race”. Defining races only created caged sections and divide between people and communities. This is the cause of what are commonly referred to as minorities. These groups experience severe discrimination in all aspects of life: workplace, school, walking outside, by the police force, etc. It is still true today that those people immune to these types of discrimination are white people, specifically white males. In the movie “Crash” we see explicit scenarios in which each racial minority faces the actions of others resulting from stereotyping. The minority groups showcased in the film include blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and Middle Easterners. A common theme throughout the movie was that each minority group was either struggling to make honest money, or they were involved in illegal activity to make money, while the white family in the movie consisted of a government representative and a stay-at-home wife with money to spare. Another point to take into consideration is that the minority groups are seen working for the white characters. Sandra Bullock was depicted as the stereotypical white woman, whose biggest concerns include whether or not her lawn has been mowed or if her Hispanic cleaning lady has put the dished away before she wakes up. Bullock’s character is also guilty of stereotyping virtually every single person of a minority race. For example, when she shied away from the two African American men walking towards her and her husband on the street before they demonstrating any threatening behavior, or when she was convinced that the Hispanic handyman had stolen and sold her house keys. These stereotypes are defined as common assumptions about certain racial and ethnic groups that are false and taken as an offense. Another example of the widely socially practiced racism is in the video shown in class about how employers react to white sounding names versus black sounding names. This is due up peoples’ implicit bias. They unknowingly favor white people over black people, even only based on their name. As a result, the employers were much less likely to accept an identical resume headed with a black sounding name than a white one. It is sad realities like these that stimulate and fuel racial tension and discrimination and because of the patterns seen and supported throughout history, the white population remains the racial group with the most power.
2. This unit has broadened my sociological imagination. I knew the corruption surrounding the American justice system, but never all of the factors that played into it. My knowledge of this system however, has been based off of what I’ve seen on TV and on social media. As a result I haven’t been realistically informed, similar to what Michelle Alexander described in The Lockdown: “Television is overloaded with fictional dramas about police, crime, and prosecutors-shows such as Law & Order. A charismatic police officer, investigator, or prosecutor—shows such as Law & Order. A charismatic police officer, investigator, or prosecutor struggles with his own demons while heroically trying to solve a horrible crime." This made me realize how ignorant I had been towards the realities of the justice system. From what I’ve seen on TV, police officers are genuine and good and therefor glorified, when in actuality there are far too many officers who abuse their power and get away with it. TV shows also often romanticize sexual assault and murder cases, while blatantly ignoring drug crimes. The “war on drugs” in America is present and relevant and deserves to be a topic of discussion. People should be educated on the situation rather than shielded from it. Tens of millions od people in America have been put behind bars on drug charges since this “war” started. Most of these people are categorized as minority racial groups, only fueling the misconception and negative connotations. The government is using its power much to frivolously and as a result minority groups are suffering. Once these individuals are released form jail, their resume is basically useless with a charge that serious. This only sets them up for failure financially and socially, thus giving misconstrued confirmation of people’s misconceptions. The way the system is set up as of now, it won’t ever change. After this unit I feel much more up to date and better able to analyze and understand current events as they are portrayed in the media. I know that what I see on TV is not nearly one hundred percent accurate. I have also become aware of my own implicit biases and have realized how false they are. Now I have the means and tools to form my own understanding and opinions on issues in the justice system that directly affect my generation.
3. To begin to fix this issue we must to begin to act as a unit. Americans need to pursue in a genuinely united front against discrimination and unjust treatment of minority groups. These actions people take against one another are powering what seems like a never-ending cycle of mass incarceration due to factors like implicit bias, outright racism, and much too widely accepted stereotypes. By putting belief in such systems, people are only worsening the issues facing America concerning racial equality, or lack thereof. I think that building form the bottom is the way to begin solving this issue. Honestly, spending time trying to convert grown men and women to value equality amongst races if they don’t already is wasting energy on the wrong people. Although a slow process, we need to start changing these values by teaching young children not to adopt the discriminatory traits that they may see in their families or even in people around them. Showcasing that each racial group is more than and different from their given stereotypes is the first step. Children should be around other children of all racial and ethnic groups starting the moment they are integrated with other children. This eliminates the uncertainty about one another and builds relationships based on real values rather than physical appearances. I think that this is the way to develop new values that younger generations will practice, and carry out and eventually pass down to their children and theirs and theirs. Again, although a slow process, I think that this is the way to recovery.