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Race & Society Essay

2442 words - 10 pages

Siani & Johnnesse
Professor Dwyer

Racism is something we've all witnessed. Many people fail to believe that race isn’t a category, but a classification of people with no variable facts. In other words, the difference we make between races has nothing to do with genes. Race was created socially, primarily by how people think ideas and faces we are not quite used to. The definition of race all depends on where and when the word is being used. In U.S. history, the meaning of the label “white” has changed over time, eventually adding groups like the Italians, Irish and Jews. Other groups, mainly African, Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and Asian descendants, have found ...view middle of the document...

As a child, you are relying on your parents to help you become who you are. Part of that involves their own, distinct opinions, that of which children don’t have the maturity to form on their own. They need the help of their parents, and this is often where the problem starts.
If you were told that all Asians were sneaky or all Whites are evil or all Blacks are criminals, you can bet that you are going to feel this way about them. Even if we allow yourself to get to know some of them, this will always be in the back of your mind. Another suggestion as to how racism makes its way into our heads is through the almighty media. As we grow up, media becomes a factor of our lives whether or not we want it to be, and is also a major source of how racism keeps itself active. The media has been giving us racial labels, one of the largest supplies coming from crime shows like “Law and Order”, and “CSI”. When dealing with crime, people of color are reflected in the separation of “them” and “us”. Whites are often represented as the “good guy”, or the strong, law obeying citizens. They often target people of color, sometimes without any sort of evidence. Directors and writers use racial stereotypes to make a more complex story with more suspects.
In the novel, “The Power of One,” by Bryce Courtney, a young, white, African boy named Peekay lives in a world where the government, the country, and the world revolves around racism. World War II is coming to an end, and in South Africa, the whites seem to hate the blacks just as much as the blacks hate the whites. Peekay was raised by a compassionate and loving black woman he refers to as “Nanny”, due to the unsafe conditions at home with his bad, mentally ill mother. He grew up with Nanny and his best friend, who was also black. To Peekay, racism didn’t exist.
The author, Bryce Courtney, didn’t intend on writing a book fully based on racism in South Africa. He holds a trace of apartheid by Peekay’s experiences as a white boy by soaking it into South Africa as a toxin. “Adapt, blend…develop a camouflage.” This thought went through Peekay’s mind once he had been exposed to racism, having been forced to attend a boarding school full of bigger, darker students. In Chapters One and Two, as a five-year-old, the bright protagonist Peekay is already addressing the necessity of affecting camouflages in order to survive the system. He is often forced to act differently around people of different skin colors in order to fit in better to prevent himself from getting beaten or teased. Peekay faces his first taste of racism the very first night at the boarding school. One boy, known as “The Judge”, who was much older, stronger, and darker than Peekay, comes up with the nickname “PissKop” for Peekay, because of Peekay’s habit to wet the bed that was caused by The Judge’s, along with the help of many other older black students, tendency to beat Peekay and spit in his face. The Judge also convinces Peekay that Hitler is...

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