Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Society's Inherent Racism

 Today's readings reflect the prevalence of racism and its capacity to transcend various cultures. Albert Wendt's Sons for the Return Home tells the story of a young Samoan living in New Zealand among a primarily papalagi-composed society. The Samoan family is subject to racism and discrimination of various kinds throughout the novel. As a minority group, the children experience ridicule and harassment at school from their peers, teachers, and principles. The treatment of Samoan characters throughout the novel conveys the inevitability of racism and discrimination, as it occurs wherever a marginalized group lives among a more prevalent group with a substantial degree of power. Numerous other examples occur in literature and illustrate the perpetual struggle of those who live in demeaning societies.  Countless works portray African-Americans struggling to thrive in spite of their harrowingly racist surroundings. King's letters from Montgomery prison express his disdain for the mistreatment of his people, as well as his hatred for those who do nothing to combat segregation and discrimination. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and various other works such as Role of Thunder Hear My Cry, and A Lesson Before Dying portray racism as it occurs in the American South against the African-Americans. These instances of racism are significant because they exist as the prevalent white southerner mindset, as their society actively promotes discrimination. Townspeople, teachers, and police in all three novels demonstrate racist tendencies that often result in the abuse and in some instances death of African-Americans. Other works of literature exemplify the prevalence of racism in any given society. Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner    depicts a society founded on racial tension in Afghanistan consisting of the dominant Pashtun and minority Hazara ethnic groups. The Hazaras suffer persecution and eventual genocide at the hands of the Taliban.

Racist cultural norms cultivate in nations with colonial history due to the contact points between differing cultures. The very act of colonization necessitates the exploitation of a weaker ethnic group by a stronger "powerhouse nation." Such exploitation occurs over extended periods of time through multiple generations, thus cultivating a society that marginalizes its different or less prominent members. Racial and cultural tensions deteriorate as time progresses due to the inevitable homogenization and integration of any given society's ethnic composition.

The novels covered in this unit reveals that every society consists of marginalized individuals to some extent. While traveling abroad I've observed marginalized groups and prejudice social dynamics that parrallel those of the United States. I learned that many Western Europeans such as Germans and Austrians marginalize and dislike Eastern Europeans such as Serbians, Albanians, and Armenians. Teenagers in Innsbruck explained that Eastern Europeans are disliked because they steal Austrian jobs and are notorious for criminal activity. While exploring the city I crossed into an impoverished "Serbian Ghetto" with low-income housing and a reputably more dangerous atmosphere. I noticed many similarities between European and American discrimination of minorities. Both cultures marginalize immigrants and minorities on the basis of ethnic discrepancy.

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