Is Racism Really Dead?

February 15, 2010
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“You don’t look Jewish.” With blonde hair and blue eyes, I am not the “typical” Jew most people expect. Though they are aware that in today’s society, marriages are no longer limited by race or religion, many of my peers are still surprised to learn that even though I don’t fit their image of a Jew, I still follow the Jewish faith. Their long-held belief of the physical aspects of a Jew gives me an indication that they have a sense of ignorance when it comes to my culture. Is it just my culture that they don’t seem to understand? Even though we live in a country where racial and religious tolerance is guaranteed by the Constitution, do forms of racism still exist with these sly comments and stereotypes that I hear from my peers? Is every Asian smart, every African American a “gangster”, or every Jew penny-pinching? It is what my peers believe, or a least give the impression of believing with their comments. By making generalizations about another group of people based solely on their race or religion, a modern day sense of intolerance and ignorance is developing from the media to school life.
Looking back, these stereotypes were first portrayed in 20th century media, and the media today, though less noticeably, has continued with these views of races and religions, solidifying stereotypical ideas. From 1953 with Looney Tune’s “Speedy Gonzales”, an animated mouse wearing an oversized sombrero with an exaggerated accent, to Long Duk Dong, the nerdy Asian foreign exchange student in 1987’s “Sixteen Candles”, stereotypes have long been rooted in the media. Meant for humor, these portrayals of stereotypical characters have a profound influenced on society’s views that are much harder to break than they to form. These ideas and views are still the basis for stereotypes today. Though these exaggerated portrayals have begun to decrease in the media, stereotypes have carried over into the 21st century in a subtle, but still prominent way. Today, viewers see the Indian store clerk from “The Simpsons”, the partying Italian-Americans, or guidos as they are called, in “Jersey Shore”, and the overwhelming number of African American and Hispanic criminals from crime show dramas that all subconsciously show the viewer the place for each ethnicity in society. Though there are countless shows with accurate portrayals of races and religions, they seem to be outweighed in influence by the shows that promote stereotypes, seeing as my peers stubbornly hold the stereotypes as the truth. Most of my peers get exposure to diverse ethnic groups mainly from the media, and when these portrayals are exaggerated or incorrect, many never know the truth about different races and religions and begin to believe that the stereotypes are accurate.
Though obviously, discrimination and segregation are illegal and therefore do not exist at my school, stereotypes of minorities have taken their place as a form of racism. Stereotypes, unlike discrimination and segregation, have never clearly been stated as illegal, allowing my peers to use them in everyday life. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “Asian” as a synonym for intelligence, or my peers who, instead of calling their friends who follow the Jewish religion by their name, call them simply “Jew”. These peers make it into a joke, unaware that their comments are mirroring Nazi Germany by identifying Jews in the community. Though my peers aren’t necessarily asserting superiority over these various minorities, by using one’s ethnicity as a way to describe their personality and identifying others by their race or religion, it implies that they don’t see a person beyond their ethnicity; an aspect of racism, in a more modern sense.
These stereotypes are likely not to amount to any form of physical actions, but the ignorant jokes and identifying one by their ethnicity are aspects of racism. In America’s history, we have worked too hard for equal rights, tolerance and acceptance for it to still exist in these comments we hear everyday. Subtle and intended for humor, these comments develop expectations for each ethnicity, which is grossly unfair and immoral. It is time to allow each individual to find their place in society, not for us to determine it for them.

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This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

Leisie said...
May 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm
I can completely relate to this. I, like the author, am Jewish, but I do not possess the stereotypical Jewish physical traits (big nose, etc.) that Jewish people are associated with. The author is correct; many people do not realize racial stereotyping is a form of racism. A surprisingly common form of racism.
Daniel Slack said...
Mar. 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm
"The concentrating [of powers] in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one." Thomas Jefferson I believe that we, as Americans, are desensitized to the question of what racism really is. Prejudice is an adverse opinion or leaning formed before sufficient knowledge is acquired. Everyone from the new born in the hospital to the old man in the rest hom... (more »)
JVxDaWickedestx said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm
stereotypes, a new form of racism?
who would have ever thought that this is what it would come down to. This article catches the exact issue in the progression of racism in society. Really shows that it's not always a joke when it comes down to ethnicity and religion.
hfdeshfak; said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 11:59 am
i agree because people still get judge by the race and how they look and its not fair to them.
This girl at the cash register was talking to my mom about white people because she thought my mom was white and she was talking the other person in spanish about my mom and my mom went off
abcd said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 11:59 am
I definitely agree with what this article is talking about. For example, reffering to your Jewish friends as ' Jew ' may be funny to some people, but in reality is no joke. I believe that people do think of Asians as 'smart', African Americans as 'gangsters', etc. because people do say those type of things daily. These stereotypes are not right because every person should not be categorized into a specific group.
autumn<3 said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 11:55 am
This article explains exactly the thin line between stereotypes and just pure racism. People don't understand when a stereotype is going too far. Stereotypes are just wrong because not all black people eat chicken and not all hispanics work for free.
kfox1030 said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 11:52 am
i definitly agree with you. I had a similar experiance. I am a cheerleader and in most movies there is always that pretty blonde hair blue eyed cheerleader i once got asked why ami cheering since i have brown hair and brown eyes.
Jeff said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 11:48 am
I agree with this article. Althought students are not pysicaly harming minnorities they are making fun of them for entertainmen
cwmoonbeam94 said...
Feb. 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm
and i thought that i was the only one who realized stereotypes are a step above racisim. i couldnt agree w/ you more!
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