4.11.2010

Racism and To Kill a Mockingbird


As I promised before, here is my essay on racism, based off of the book To Kill a Mockingbird. What originated as just another school assignment for me, took off into something that made me stretch my brain a little further than what I thought. I know I'm not that great at organization, but for whoever reads this, I hope it makes sense and at least gets an idea working in your head. These are my thoughts

TKAM Essay Sam Stott A1

      You would think that by this point, our country would be over racial differences. Yet interesting enough, some people do feel that way. In fact, if you are Caucasian, then you probably do believe that. Because according to an article by Charles M. Blow from NY Times, through an ABC News/ Washington Post poll taken last year, “twice as many blacks as whites thought racism was a big problem in this country, while twice as many whites as blacks thought that blacks had achieved racial equality”. The reason we talk about about blacks and their racial equality does after all, come from our country's background of inferior treatment. But, although we have passed a hundred years and a civil right movement, our country has still failed to accept a multi-racial situation. Some people would like to think that there is almost no racism- and idea that appears to be false.
      We are living in a world that is pretending. From the same article, Blow explains that “white people don't want to be labeled as prejudiced, so they work hard around blacks not to appear so.” In return, I then have to admit that this is something that I myself learned to do at a young age. Growing up in an area of Utah where there is very little racial difference, it often caught me off guard to see a non-Caucasian person walking around. And consciously, I would try to ignore it. Unfortunately, as the same article yet again points out, “blacks thought that whites who [tried to appear unprejudiced] were more prejudiced than those who didn't.”
      But you do have to give credit to the whites for trying. Alice Park, and author for Time magazine, (through John Dovidio, a Yale professor) suggests that “although our minds are in the right places, and we may truly believe we are not prejudiced, our hearts aren't quite there yet.” I'm not necessarily saying that “it's no me, my heart has a mind of it's own”, but maybe being self-conscious about being prejudiced, is our mind's way of compensating for the past.
      In the 1930's, we see that our past was to a point, where author Harper Lee sat down and wrote about children growing up in a time where there was no equality. And back then, there was a need for change. Lee's character Atticus Finch is challenged to defend a black man. As Atticus is giving his closing statement to the jury, he leaves us with one idea of what it was like back then, “You gentleman would go along with them on the assumption- the evil assumption- that all negroes lie, that all negroes are basically immoral beings, that all negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber.” And that is the time they lived in. It feels good to say that we have come far from that, but there is work to be done.
      As I have mentioned before, being raised in a densely diverse population has kept me from being able to say that I am an anti-racist person. I admit that when I see someone who looks different from me, I notice it, and I often judge from it. But not only me, but our country is improving. In the 1960's, not too many years after the after the time period To Kill a Mockingbird was written in, we elected a colored man for office in the Supreme court. And in just this past year we have elected a black man for president, which sadly is a pretty big time marker for our country. I would like to quote Ellis Close in agreement when I say, “We are no longer a country where blatant prejudice and unexamined biases control the judiciary.” But I would also like to remind you when I say that we have far to go. Diversity is definitely more prominent now than in the 1930's when when odd as it seems now, men as just as the heroic character, Atticus Finch, weren't always supporting African-Americans. And although we are coming out of our dark hole that is perverted by racial inequality, we have much more to move on with.

-SAM

2 comments:

Kaycee.Lee said...

Wanna know what I think is funny?

I bought "To Kill A Mockingbird" on Saturday in some cool bookstore in Moab for a school paper. haa. We should just be twins. =]

Sam said...

Um, that's amazing. Seriously. I LOVE To Kill a Mockingbird, I think it's one of THE most EPIC books of all time. Harper Lee knows her stuff.
PS- I though we were already twins??(: