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PandJ Final Essay .

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Cori Muller
Professor Sosa
Prejudice and Discrimination
SOC 230-002
Final Essay
“When you judge another, you do not define...
how I overcame it, will continue to overcome it and how it’s only made me a stronger
person who’s even more comfortable in...
already had a unique living situation, so when these kids would ask me the adoption
question I always felt very strange. I...
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PandJ Final Essay .

  1. 1. Cori Muller Professor Sosa Prejudice and Discrimination SOC 230-002 Final Essay “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself,” a perfect quote by author Wayne Dyer to capture the exact meaning of what my paper will be about. People are always going to judge something or someone. It’s really disappointing when people are judging someone because of the color of their skin. Although people of different skin tones have come a very long way, it’s unfortunate much still face unfair treatment today. Many people would like to act as if people aren’t prejudice or that they don’t discriminate against people of different ethnicities then them anymore. This is the furthest from the truth. Prejudice and discrimination is still very much a huge problem in society but a lot of people just ignore it. These types of people would much rather sweep it under the rug so that they don’t have to acknowledge it as a problem. It’s time people accept the fact that people are still being treated negatively because of the color of their skin despite the fact slavery in the United States ended and African Americans have more equal rights then they once had. I’m going to discuss the many ways I’ve personally faced prejudices or witnessed someone facing it. I’m going to explain different times where I felt I was treated different because of my skin color. I’ll discuss how this kind of treatment made me feel, who was treating me differently, where I think their prejudices stemmed from, how the knowledge I learned in class will stick with me for my lifetime,
  2. 2. how I overcame it, will continue to overcome it and how it’s only made me a stronger person who’s even more comfortable in my skin then ever before. When someone asks me my race I’m going to tell that person from now on that there’s only one race, and that’s the human race (Marger, 2009: 14). After all racism is an ideology and ideologies don’t necessarily reflect reality; they are largely mythical (Marger 2009: 19). I’m half white and I don’t know my father’s ethnicity nor is that important. What is important is that beautiful brown skin tone I was born with. A beautiful skin tone that many tan hours on end to achieve, but so beautiful that some people have to treat me ugly because of it. Some don’t want me to feel comfortable or confident in my own skin. It hasn’t always been this way for me though. My whole family is Caucasian, which means I am the only member of my family with brown skin. This is a factor that I wasn’t aware of until about middle school. It never really mattered what skin tone anyone was to me because I think of everyone as being beautiful no matter what color his or her skin is. My family never treated me any different, and neither did my friends. Up until middle school years I had no problem making friends. I lived in a predominantly white town where I attended schools that were made up of about 90% white students and very few minorities. This meant that most of the time I was the only person with brown skin in all of my classes. Also from elementary school until the day I graduated high school I never once had a black teacher. Again, I never really felt uncomfortable with this it was just how thing’s were. In middle school when my family would come to my events I remember kids asking me is that your mom? Are you adopted? Are you adopted? Are you adopted? That question rung out in my head over and over again. I would always say no and that the people were my aunt and uncle. I
  3. 3. already had a unique living situation, so when these kids would ask me the adoption question I always felt very strange. I don’t really know how to explain the feeling but I felt out of place, different and that was where it all started. It only got worse from middle school days until now with feeling different from everyone else. One day in class my teacher was teaching that people of color wouldn’t be allowed to ride the train. He proceeded to point to me and said “YOU” wouldn’t be allowed on the train along with pointing at another brown boy of Indian decent. I was appalled that he had said that but I didn’t know what to say at that moment. I told my mother when I went home what he said and how it upset me and she too thought it was wrong of my teacher to point me out and use me as an example. Again after this happened, I felt so out of place and different. That day I felt horrible. I felt like my brown skin was something bad or ugly since we wouldn’t have been allowed on the train but all of the white people in class would have. My mother didn’t want me to feel this way. She would always tell me that I’m above everyone’s judgments and to not let it bother me. These were powerful lessons she tried to instill in me but still somewhere in the back of my head I felt … different. Different from everyone in society. Different from the people that lived in my town. Different from all of the students that I went to school with. It wasn’t a good feeling and although I tried to make it go away, these feelings always stayed with me. High School was really hard for me. When everyone made his or her new group of friends I was basically left out. I was never accepted into anyone’s group and the old friends I once had suddenly disappeared. I didn’t really know what was happening I just knew I didn’t fit in with everyone else all of a sudden. Next thing I knew I was meeting
  4. 4. more people of different ethnicities. Others referred them to as the minorities of the school. There was a very obvious separation from the few minorities that all stayed in one group to all of the other white students that formed their own groups. I belonged to this minority group by force not by choice. I never wanted to associate myself with a group of people because of my skin tone. I was placed in the categorical treatment in regards to minority group’s treatment. It wasn’t a group I could voluntarily remove myself it’s just where I was placed based off of my physical traits which in this case was my skin tone (Marger 2009: 31). I just wanted to be friendly and cool with everyone. I guess since everyone didn’t accept this, the minority group is the only group I could belong in. These people accepted me into their group but didn’t fully accept me for me. Within the minority group even more groups formed. This is when the real separation by skin tones began. It was already apparent that the white people didn’t really accept me into any of their groups and I couldn’t pin it to any other reason than the color of my skin. Then within the minority group the Hispanic people stuck together and I wasn’t included in their group. The black people also stuck together but they separated themselves into light skins and dark skins. The problem was I was the only “light skin” girl and so the darker skin girls basically exiled me. They would say things like “she thinks she’s better because she’s light skin and the guys only want to talk to her because her skin is light there’s no other reason.” Why were girls that had a brown skin tone saying such things? I couldn’t understand. In no way was I stuck up or thought I was better than the next person. They formed their own stereotypes of lighter skinned people and automatically associated them with me. I went through a lot of drama in those 4 years. A lot of it having to do with which group I was in and who I should and shouldn’t be friends with based on what some
  5. 5. of my so-called friends deemed acceptable. It was ridiculous how judgmental everyone is in high school. Whether it’s based on the shade of your skin or your social status, someone always found something to judge you on. Usually, it was something you had no control over or couldn’t change. Where did these young minds get such toxic opinions? I think I discovered the answer to that question during my high school career. This is a time when I started seeing different skin tones on television. I always felt as though television made brown skinned people out to be less than or not as attractive as white people were made out to be. I would see shows in where black people were made to look as if they had dirty homes, they were thief’s, they were lazy, they were from the ghetto, they were in gangs, they were poor, they were dangerous, they all carried guns and the list goes on an on. I never really saw any shows with black people in them that made them seem like good powerful members of society. I did however see shows that typically portrayed the dominant white race as these people that were good looking, perfect, and well off, who lived good lives and were successful. I knew all black people weren’t this way and I also knew all white people didn’t live this type of life. Yet still, this affected me and made me think of all brown skin tones and even my skin tone in a negative way. The media is such a powerful agent in society. It can be used for good but also as evil. It’s so powerful that it has the potential to alter the way people think. I truly believe that the media can shape how one views society and the people in it. Depending on what information someone takes in, it can affect how they choose to live their lives which in turn can alter how they act and how they treat others. Again, this can be good or it can be bad. In my own experiences I started to realize that the media was influencing me to judge people with brown skin tones negatively. I didn’t want to judge people in this
  6. 6. way; it was never in my character to do so. It was only so long before I couldn’t stand the media anymore and had to take control. In my own little world I boycotted television and barely, if ever turned it on. I was sick that the media was brainwashing people with these ideas of prejudice. People thought I was crazy for not wanting to watch television and when they asked I basically told them that I feel it doesn’t teach you anything good or real about the real world. People would look at me funny but this was something I was getting used to at this point. For a while, I would only watch the history channel or just not turn on the T.V. at all. The sad truth is that many people get fed the false information that the media puts out and just start to believe it rather than thinking for themselves or formulating their own opinion. They think that if it’s something the media says than it must be true when really it’s the total opposite. I think that the media is one of the largest influences of teaching prejudices. This could explain the reason my peers in high school had such negative opinions on people of different skin tones than them. They weren’t exposed in real life to people of color except for the few that were in their school. They automatically thought the few people that had a different skin tone then them were like every other stereotype that they had heard. Not to mention, I never had an African American teacher throughout my entire school career. This most likely meant the kids I went to school with didn’t either. They didn’t have any person of color in their lives to look up to, or respect. There also weren’t many African Americans that resided in the several neighborhoods that made up our school district. So, the students could never see that African Americans lived normal civilized lives just as they did. These people fit the normative theory of prejudice, which describes their negative thoughts coming from their social environment. This and other factors compelled them to think how others around
  7. 7. them did (Marger 2009: 67). This was unfortunate that they had no exposure to people of color but still it was no excuse. I’m also sure that many of the kid’s parents or adults that they looked up too were prejudice. This was what these kids learned throughout their lives and that negativity plus the medias negativity in regards to African Americans caused these kids to stereotype all colored people. They were prejudice; they carried this negative attitude of people that had different skin colors than them everywhere they went (Marger 2009: 78). Like it was a survival kit and they would need it to defend their life at any moment. That’s what it felt like to me at least. I used to think to myself; with maturity and age they will grow out of it and stop thinking this way. Boy was I wrong. I applied to SUNY Cortland to continue my education in 2013. It was the biggest decision I’ve ever made to leave home and transfer to a college 5 hours away. I was so excited for new faces and to interact with different types of people from different walks of life. I didn’t do research on the demographics of the college because that was the last thing on my mind when going away to school. I didn’t expect much out of college life but to meet all types of friendly, interesting, new people from many different places. I chose a building to live in that said it had a transfer floor. The website made the transfer floor seem like this amazing living experience for transfers to have. A place where all of the transfers would be in the same boat as I am and we’d all get to live on the same floor and interact like one big happy family. This would happen really easily because we all are going through the same experience at the same time. I was excited when I read my residence hall information. Hayes Hall 319 (transfer floor). Yes! This could be great I thought to myself. I’ll finally get to meet all different types of people from different places. I’d finally get away from the typical prejudice people that lived to judge like I had
  8. 8. known throughout high school. It felt like all new beginnings were to come. That was, until I stepped foot into the darkest never-ending nightmare that I wish was only a nightmare. I went in with a positive attitude into what I thought would be a judgment free happy place to live. The first few days were normal as it would be in any residence hall. Friendly smiling faces waving hello to one another. It was such a fresh new start to life. It only took about 2 weeks before the real nightmare began. A nightmare that won’t end until the day I leave this building May 14th 2014. The people in the hall started eating meals together and they would cordially invite one another to go eat. I personally was never asked. They would pass right by me and invite the next person. Mind you we all had just met, so how close could these people have gotten so quickly? It didn’t really phase me I still kept a smile on and said hello to every passing face. Soon the hellos weren’t reciprocated. I would be stared at but still I’d say hello. I’d walk into the lounge where everyone would hang out and welcome anyone who came in. But when I had walked in the lounge no one would say anything to me. I started feeling out of place and stopped going to the lounge as much. I was still friendly I never stopped being friendly to these people who waited on me to speak to them. I played loud music because that is what I enjoy. A few people did but for whatever reason they couldn’t stand my music. I realized this when people would say things like your music makes me cringe, why can’t you listen to nice music? I would hear people say she must be from the city and other strange stereotypical things. This was odd to me because they too listened to similar music (hi hop, rap) along with other kinds of music, which I also played. These stereotypes were just pictures that these people painted in their head of me. They didn’t
  9. 9. personally know me or ask where I was from (Marger 2009: 52). Everyday there would be a new dirty look or a new comment made about my friend Shanice or I. We’re the only two girls on our floor that have brown skin. Shanice and I wouldn’t ever be invited out or to eat with them as they ate and partied about 10-15 of them at a time together. We started to talk about how they treated us and realized that it had to be because we have brown skin. There really wasn’t any other explanation for it. Shanice’s roommate never once asked her to go eat with them even in Shanice’s first few days in the building when it was obvious she didn’t know anyone. Her roommate would also sometimes greet her saying “what up Ma.” This was strange because Shanice doesn’t speak to anyone this way. This girl didn’t speak to anyone else this way either. She was from upstate New York and it was unusual why she had talked to Shanice like that. I had a roommate too. She was from Oswego. Long story short, we respected each other but we were total opposites. But that’s what college is all about accepting that not everyone is the same as you. I think she had a hard time doing this and could have had prejudice ways about her because when everyone came back after the first semester her side of the room was empty and she clearly had moved out. Gone. Without a heads up or anything. She never talked about transferring or moving out so I was very confused. I learned later on that she transferred to Oswego I still don’t understand why except that she wanted to live closer to home. The next semester was not much different than the first one. This time though, the people made it very clear that they were prejudice. They should have just stuck a label on their head that said so. One guy would literally say it’s funny we’ve never invited you or Shanice to eat with us and then laugh about it. Another guy would call Shanice and I “the ratchets” which is an extremely derogatory term used to describe a dirty poor obnoxious
  10. 10. ghetto black girl. We behaved in no way that would explain why he gave us this label except that he thought it was funny. We’d tell him don’t call us that but he just didn’t get it. Besides the girls on the floor never speaking to us or even saying a cordial hello when they passed us by the guys too was very judgmental and prejudice. I would be in the lounge and one guy would say “Hey I’m going to tell a really funny racist joke.” I said don’t do that especially while I’m in here that’s so ignorant. He said, “it’s not that bad.” To me, any joke that is going to degrade someone because of his or her background is horrible and I let that be known. Not even one minute later another boy said, “Oh c’mon Cori I really wanted to know the punch line.” So because this guy wanted a quick laugh I should let this guy tell his racist joke freely and not say a damn word? That’s literally exhibiting the definition of prejudice that we learned in class. Getting ahead at the expense of others. These types of things would happen everyday. Everyday I was in Hayes Hall I heard a new hateful comment describing someone’s race. For example their favorite line was “it’s because he/she is black.” One night a few of the girls so obviously ignored me that I had felt so fed up. I put a picture on my door of me my mother and my aunt. Above each person I put a sticky note that said they were my mother and my aunt. I left it up for the night and hoped that people saw it. I wanted them to know that even though I have brown skin my family is white just like yours so what’s so different about me? What gives you the right to treat me horribly? Is it just because my skin is brown and your skin is white? I couldn’t imagine them having any other reason. Imagine feeling like several people were treating you differently every single day and you had no understanding as to why? Especially since the beginning of this semester, I feel like I’m a ghost. That is the easiest way for me to describe the feeling. It feels like
  11. 11. these people pass me every single day like I don’t even exist. They’ve done an excellent job at making me feel like I don’t belong. It feels horrible. Shanice and I put up with it every day never saying anything to these people because no one ever wants to “pull the race card.” What could be said to them? Please change your ways. Stop being prejudice. Don’t stereotype me? They would never admit to it and I’m sure many of them don’t even realize they’re doing it. It sort of just happens naturally. Like their judgments, stereotypes, hurtful words and comments were just a way of life for them. We just take it all in, what feels everyday like a blow to the face from a heavy weight champion boxer. Sometimes when I don’t encounter the people much during the day it can be a good day. The days that I do encounter them often, my moods are usually always affected in a negative way. Since I take it in everyday I internalize negative feelings towards these people. It builds and builds and just keeps building up inside of my head. There are so many things I want to say and get it all out but now it has just turned into anger, pain, hurt, sadness, animosity and more. Words typed endlessly on this paper can’t express all of the emotions these people have made me feel. I’ve experienced several nights in which I wish I were the ghost they treated me as. I wish I hadn’t had to wake up some days to play the lead role in these people’s sick horror movie. I’ve had some really low points in the one year I spent at this college than I have ever had throughout my entire life. No matter how hard I tried to not let these peoples actions control me it was sometimes too hard to handle. Sometimes, it even became hard to focus on my studies the only reason I’m here to begin with. I had thought about leaving buildings or transferring colleges that maybe here is not the right place for leaving and me would solve everything. Then I think to myself, people can’t be like this everywhere. I just got put into this hall on this floor
  12. 12. with this specific group of people as a life experience. A test. If I leave or transfer, they win and that gives them power and authority. Like always, the dominant group would win and they’d come out on top. That’s exactly what they want me too and that’s exactly why I didn’t go anywhere. I aced the test. It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I stayed. I took every comment every look everything they had to throw at me. I took it all in and I came out as a stronger person than I have ever been in my entire life. I didn’t come into Hayes Hall transfer floor with any confidence but I will leave here with a whole lot of confidence, pride, self esteem, knowledge, acceptance, and one of the most important things of all. I will leave here loving myself for who I am and the beautiful brown skin tone that I am blessed to have. I no longer feel out of place, or different as I had in my past, instead I feel beautiful. I sometimes try to explain to some people I care about what I’ve gone through here but unless one actually experiences such unfair treatment first hand, it can never be truly understood how I felt and what I went through. I am thankful that I experienced this and that the people were the way they were. It taught me how to handle life even when you’re being treated differently. I know this is a life experience that I will need to have under my belt if I’m out in the real world and a similar thing happens. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through but I know that there’s a reason I went through it and that it was a necessary part of my life. I do wish that the people here knew how I felt and so I even thought about placing an anonymous copy of this essay on the table in the lounge for them to read. I’m hoping that these people aren’t this ignorant for the rest of their lives. I learned in one of my sociology courses that when people go away to college they are less prejudice in life because they’ve been exposed to people of several different ethnicities. I give the people on the
  13. 13. transfer floor the benefit of the doubt. No matter how ugly their hearts may be now I’m hoping that as they grow they’ll become more accepting of people who are different from them. I really do believe people can change their thoughts and opinions if they just open their eyes to all of the different walks of life people come from. I can honestly say that taking this prejudice and discrimination course has helped me throughout a lot of the experiences I went through this semester. I want to first of all thank you Professor Sosa for teaching this course. I feel that the knowledge I learned in this course helped me to grow as a human being. I myself became more of an accepting person. I think twice now before I might say something that could be hurtful to someone. I also accept that not everyone is going to treat you the same. Everyone is different therefore everyone has his or her own opinions. Now, I may not understand why people are the way they are, but I do accept this. I stayed quiet during class because I really wanted to observe what my peers had to say and absorb the knowledge that I was learning. I believe that I learned valuable knowledge as well as lessons that will stick with me forever and that I could use to help me in life in my future. I think that a lot of the information we discussed in class helps me to make sense of where these negative thoughts stem from in someone’s mind. I wish that it were a requirement that everyone at college has to take a prejudice and discrimination course. I truly feel as though people wouldn’t be as prejudice, opinionated or use stereotypes if they learned the information presented to us in class. If everyone had to take this class it could honestly open peoples closed eyes to many realities of society. If it changed the way one person thought that it would be effective but I know it would change more than that. So many people try to act like prejudice people don’t exist anymore. I believe a lot of people just ignore the fact
  14. 14. that people are prejudice everywhere in the world. People really do need to realize that this is a huge problem in society that needs to end. I hope that people in the future don’t teach their children to judge someone off the color of their skin. It’s like an epidemic that no one has a cure for so it just keeps infecting more and more people. I hope that one day no one is prejudice anymore. If it stops getting taught to future generation eventually people won’t even think to judge someone because of the color of their skin except for what history teaches them. And if they follow it all the way back to history they would learn that we all come from one person in Africa. Tell me how they could judge someone’s skin tone after learning that? I know that when I have children I’m going to make sure that they aren’t exposed to anything that could make them want to judge someone because of their skin color. I’m going to do everything in my power during my lifetime to stop stereotypes from being used and stop comments based on skin color from being said in my presence. I stand for equality I even have a tattoo of the word on my forearm. I want people to know when they see me that I believe everyone should be treated equal. No one person or group is better than the next; in fact we are all equal. Going back to my opening quote I want to conclude with the idea that when someone judges another person they aren’t defining that person like they think they are. They are really defining themselves. It speaks to their character when they judge someone else. How can they really be comfortable in their own skin if they have to go judge someone else based on theirs? I think everyone should live by the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. don’t judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Just think how much power those words possess if everyone lived by them.
  15. 15. Bibliography Marger, Martin. Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives. 2009 Seventh Edition. Thomson Wadsworth: Belmont, California.

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