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African Americans: Prejudice Today Essay

1447 words - 6 pages

Although African Americans make up just 30% of the total population of the United States, they are accounted for 60% of those imprisoned! That’s an enormous difference! What is the reason behind this? The obvious answer is racism. Maybe it’s because the police officers are racist and more suspicious about African Americans, but then again, maybe it’s because the African Americans commit more crime. Even if they do, it’s quite likely that this criminal attitude is roused when they are treated unfairly and discriminated against. Anyway, racism is the action of setting up unfair differences in between people of different races. The thing in our mind that provokes racism is prejudice. Prejudice is a negative thought that exists inside our mind, and it causes us to treat different people in a different way. But why does prejudice exist in the world? What is the reason behind our inexplicable tendency to differentiate between others?
Some people say prejudice is part of human nature. Others think we learn it from our elders. Either one could be true, as there are various controversial beliefs about why prejudice exists in the world. One interesting theory is that prejudice is an emotional reaction that is triggered in our brain whenever we encounter unknown people, who have different physical characteristics, different personalities, and/or different beliefs. In fact, these unfamiliar people scare us, and we start treating them differently to reassure ourselves that they cannot possibly matter to us. Another possible reason for prejudice could be negative education about others, either direct or indirect. An example of the direct type would be that you are deliberately taught to avoid certain people who are discriminated against in today’s society, while an example of the indirect version would be that you see your elders trying to avoid these people, and you learn from them. This kind of negative education stimulates the prejudicial thoughts in our mind, causing us to treat people differently. Therefore, the very existence of prejudice depends on our mind and our education.
African Americans are not the only victims of prejudice in this world. Almost everyone gets treated unfairly sooner or later. Prejudice can be targeted at an individual or a group. An example of individual prejudice would be treating someone unfairly because of a reason that applies only to that person, such as a family argument or a past altercation. As for prejudice against a group, discrimination could take place at a smaller scale or a larger scale. Examples of smaller scale prejudice would be harassment of a certain group at school, such as those who are “nerdy” or those who are physically or mentally disabled. These small-scale discriminatory actions could have negative results on the victims, such as social anxiety, depression, and even suicide. On the other hand, examples of larger scale prejudice would be discrimination against a group spread...

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