Color Blind: Tales of Discrimination

This is another of the student essays from the journalism classes involved in the Race and New Media Conference put on by Annie Wilde and Aaron Barlow at CUNY-Brooklyn. Armo interviews several individuals to get a fuller perspective using their takes on discrimination,--originally posted 2008-05-18 08:45:55 -- bumped, cho

Racism goes beyond black and white. There are many other colors such as those in a rainbow, if some haven’t noticed. Maybe if the Chinese, Mexicans, Spanish or the Indians were identified as colors their voices would be heard. So in that case let’s say we call the Spanish people Orange, Chinese Yellow, and the Indians Red. Then some might take notice in those brighter colors that were hidden in the dark. The U.S.A is one of the most diverse societies in the world. I think these colors are the real minority group in the USA. But they do make a big impact whether aware of them or not. For example, Hillary amazingly won the race in California by mostly the Spanish and Asian votes, which I found surprising as many others were to.

I my self have faced discrimination and have never mentioned it until now. This is because I have an opportunity to do so currently thanks to my Journalism course. I am informing those who are unaware, “color blind,” that racism isn’t only between Blacks and Whites. Here are some examples of untold tales of U.S citizens facing discrimination.

When I first started attending City Tech in fall 2006, I would take the train in the morning to get to school. It was during the time of rush hour which is about 7:30. When I arrived at the train station before swiping my metro card I would get stopped by the police officers for checking bags and packages. I didn’t mind because I know it’s for security reasons. I use to carry my books in one of those brief case bags and I took notice that I was always getting checked. There would be people boarding the trains carrying boxes, bags, packages that looked more suspicious then my self, and they weren’t getting stopped at all. So one day I decide not to take my bag but just a folder and I still was stopped and told to get checked. I knew it was because I was Indian but I wasn’t sure if that was the reason I constantly got stopped. I didn’t complain because if I did it wouldn’t of made a difference. I don’t blame those police officers because it’s just the way the media portrays them.

Another tale would be after 911 a few weeks later my family and I went on a fishing trip in the Atlantic Ocean. The cost guard stopped the boat and they proceeded to search and ask us what we were doing all the way out there. They asked us where we are from and we told them Guyana. After the cost guards didn’t find anything suspicious they decided to allow us to continue fishing. But the last question one of the guards asked before they left us was, what our religion is, and we told him Hindu and he said ok with a big smile on his face.

The day after it happened I decided to question my family members and close friends. If they to have ever faced discrimination because I thought to myself that it was a rare, that incidents like those I have experience, thinking that it doesn’t happen, I was wrong. It does, but its just that know one acknowledges it because it’s usually not discussed. So one day, I asked my father if he has ever experienced any sort of discrimination when he was an immigrant. He said yes many times at his own job. Once him and this Jewish white man was arguing that you foreigners came to take our jobs away, that you should go back to your country. My father turned around and told him “Your great grandparents suffer to come here just like any other immigrant that came here, and this is the way you act towards other immigrants that were once just like your grandparents. Immigrants are working class people and that some of you Americans refuse to do labor for minimum wage.” He said the Jewish Guy then left and came back a week later and said you were right and apologized.

Another tale of racial discrimination would be when my father first started working, this White man called him a “sand nigga.” His response was why did you call me that? And the Whiteman replied because your dark skin like black people but your hair is straight like White peoples. My father didn’t tell him anything because he didn’t care what the Whiteman said. He is a minority and if says anything he would mostly likely get fired.

Chinese people are also racist against Blacks and Blacks are racist against Chinese. I know some Chinese people that are terrified of Black people. For example, I had a great Chinese friend by the name of Kenny, one day we were having a conversation about racism and he said that he doesn’t appreciate Black people as much as he use to. He said that if he sees a Black man walking down the street towards or behind him. He would either walk the other direction or walk into a store. So I asked why, and he said that “Black men are dangerous thugs. All they do is rob the poor Chinese people with their guns and make fun of the way they talk or of their appearance.”

Apparently some Chinese have the idea that all black men are dangerous and are thugs, which is not true. I think this is because of the media. They usually portray Blacks as thugs and gangsters, carrying guns and robbing people as you have seen in many movies.

This caused me to do some researching online and found several articles about racism in America, and in one particular article titled “Race & Ethnic Relations in America” by Amanda Brooks stated, “Chinese and Japanese Americas both, have a high success rate in schools and the work place. There are stereo typed as being extremely intelligent and successful. They are considered to be a "model minority." This actually is used by White society to justify the treatment of all minorities. They will just point out the success rate of Asian-Americans and say "They have made it. So can African Americans and Mexican Americans." This is actually a form of blaming the victim. Asian Americans actually only constitute a very small number of the managerial and top positions of US companies. They are referred to as a middlemen minority. They have better jobs than most minority groups but are not allowed by White society to have the top jobs. They are denied their democratic rights to pursue the same things and positions as white men.” Chinese and Japanese also have a tough time attempting to advance in their social class.

Even Native Americans have a tough time in America and their Native’s, the originally people of this country. Brooks stated that “The United States Government passed the Allotment Act years later. This act gave 138 million acres of land to be divided up among the Natives. The problem was that the Natives had been moved onto Reservations and no longer knew how to work the land. The government provided no help in this area for the people. They ended up leasing their land to White people until they could sell it to them. When all was said and done, they had lost 90 million of 138 million acres they had been given. Once again, the White man ended up with their land. The government came up with another ploy to silence the cries for justice coming from the Natives: The Relocation Program sought to assimilate Natives into dominant White society. This would serve to alienate them from their culture and even their family. The intent was to draw the young and smart Natives off the Reservations and into the city (at the government's expense) where jobs were plentiful instead of taking jobs to where they were. The caused a brain drain from the Reservations and into the city. The Reservations, therefore, got poorer. One fourth of the Native population left the Reservations.”

“The Native people have been crying for justice since their contact with White men. The United States Government has broken every single treaty it has made with the native people. The United States has been undemocratic in its dealing with the Native people. A movement of Pan-Indianism has emerged in response to their undemocratic treatment. They have begun regaining their cultural identity and seeing things and movements through the lens of their own Cultures and not the White American Culture.”

The main point is that every race has been faced with some sort of prejudice in them. Everyone’s voice wants to be heard, and people will always put down one to get forward because that’s the way people created it. If we take our time and observe some of the interesting events and experiences that some people may encounter on a daily basis besides in the perspective of Whites and Blacks. We would be a little brighter in understanding learning from others. Then we might over this “color blindness” and see clearer then ever before.

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This is a great essay because you use real examples and show (don't tell) about some people's experiences that illustrate your point.

If you are interested, one trick for longer quotes is to indent them... most online communities have an html tag that can do that for you, the blockquote.

Use the html tag < blockquote > before the quote and the html tag to turn it off < /blockquote > (without the spaces) and on this community, it will look like this:

The Native people have been crying for justice since their contact with White men. The United States Government has broken every single treaty it has made with the native people. The United States has been undemocratic in its dealing with the Native people. A movement of Pan-Indianism has emerged in response to their undemocratic treatment. They have begun regaining their cultural identity and seeing things and movements through the lens of their own Cultures and not the White American Culture.

Also, be careful of the 3 theres (there -- as in over there; their as in their rights; and they're as in They are.) In your sentence "There are stereo typed as being extremely intelligent and successful." I think you want "They are stereotyped as being extremely intelligent and successful."

But that's a nit... Very nice and very informative essay! Thank you for sharing!

I like that you expanded the discussion to include other races than those we so often are likely to hear covered.

Have you had an opportunity to review the history of various ethnic groups that immigrated to the United States over the course of our history? I believe many of them faced the ugliness of not being accepted or welcomed immediately. I know my German ancestors had to be careful for a time.

One of the ways of doing journalism, in the past, was to reduce anything to two sides, making an "either/or" out of it.

As you point out so well, life isn't just that simple.

Journalism shouldn't make it seem so.

Andrea, thanks for sharing you and your families personal experiences. It is amazing how so many people in today's world continue to generalize and stereotype any racial, ethnic, or religious group.
I appreciate your perspective, and also agree that a journalism class is a great platform for discussions that may have once felt taboo.
Great post! :)

If you are interested, one trick for longer quotes is to indent them... most online communities have an html tag that can do that for you, the blockquote.