Negative Prejudice and Interracial Union
Helene and Jack are two of my friends. They have been best friends to each other for over a decade. At some point, they fell in love with each other. But, Jack’s grandmother had been an African slave in early America. Helene’s parents threatened to disown their daughter if she would marry anybody except her cousin – from the pure white race, as they described it. Helene and Jack did not get married after all. They are friends to each other still, although Helene’s parents’ reaction to their daughter’s decision to marry Jack has marred their ‘best friendship’ with each other.
I continue to meet up with both of them and we have lengthy discussions on the topic of negative prejudice as it relates to interracial unions. I have come to believe that there should be a tremendous effort to educate human society about the harms and immorality of negative prejudice in matters of love. Despite the fact that modern man is applauded for his high achievements in almost all areas of knowledge, racism continues to plague our ‘knowledge society. ’ Racism is a belief system which states that individuals can be superior to others on the basis of race.
This theory has led to much violence and genocide in the world. Marriages are considered matters of love, which is why racism is a matter to be contended with if an interracial couple would like to continue the relationship. Various elements of society continue to look down upon interracial union. People who have decided to remain together through thick and thin – in spite of societal pressure to shun the idea of interracial marriages – must necessarily experience a certain level of strain in their relationships.
This strain was a part of Helene’s and Jack’s experience as soon as Helene’s parents found out that the two were falling in love with each other. Being their friend, it was definitely quite upsetting for me as well. It is not surprising that there are people who seem to thrive on racism. “Making The Case For Teaching Our Boys To … ‘Bring Me Home A Black Girl’” is an article on the subject of racial marriage, with the thesis that it is best for black men to marry black women rather than white women.
Readers may or may not be convinced by the reasons put forward by the author, given that the article puts down love, which is one of the strongest appeals to pathos, in favor of racial superiority and inferiority that are said to remain in interracial marriages (Edwards, 2002). It is this sense of racial superiority or inferiority that builds up attitudes such as negative prejudice. Prejudice is defined as “a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue (“Prejudice,” 2005).
” A person may assume, for example, that all individuals suffering from AIDS are filthy and must be ignored; or all Africans are unintelligent. The Nazis had similarly supposed that all Jews are worthless and stupid, and therefore must be killed. As a matter of fact, prejudice could be based on gender, religion, culture, geographical background, as well as race. Social psychologists define it as an attitude that may be positive or negative. The positive type of prejudice is understood to result in the white privilege. It may also be directed at beautiful or rich people regardless of color.
Negative prejudice may be similarly directed at an individual or an entire society. Regardless, our attitudes known as prejudices are usually not founded in reason, which is why Helene’s parents could not agree with the fact that Jack loved their daughter and was prepared to be a great husband to her. Besides, Helene loved Jack. Respecting her wish to marry Jack was certainly a reasonable attitude that her parents could have adopted. People who foster prejudices normally believe that they are right to have negative attitudes toward certain individuals or groups of people.
Such people justify their prejudices by offering various examples to show that they are right. A white man who has visited an American jail may claim that he knows that all African Americans are bad people because most of the people in jail are African Americans. Racism – which is a form of a prejudice – thus intellectualizes the negative attitude of people toward people. I believe it takes a high level of the right kind of education to trust in the essential equality of mankind.
Although Helene’s father holds a PhD and her mother is a physician, all they offered their daughter as their reason to refuse Jack as their future son-in-law was the fact that his paternal grandmother was an African slave. When they told her she would be disowned if she marries Jack, she knew their reasons were totally illogical. Even so, in the minds of her parents, their beliefs about interracial unions were correct; that is, it was not right for a woman from the pure white race, as they called it, to marry a man whose grandmother had slaved for the whites.
If Helene’s parents had studied the harms of racism beyond their respective degrees, perhaps they would not have disagreed with and humiliated their daughter as they did. According to Helene, it was impossible for her to talk to her parents about her desire to wed Jack once they had expressed their decision to disown her in that case. She told me she had many questions in mind for her parents. For example: ‘What was Jack’s grandmother’s fault if she had been sold as a slave to the whites? ’ ‘What is Jack’s fault?
’ ‘What if I am in love with Jack, and love you too, my parents, at the same time? ’ Helene knew that her parents’ attitude was inflexible, which is why she felt she was too upset to pose such questions. It seemed to her that they had been brainwashed against the blacks. I, too, have the same feeling about Helene’s parents, which is the reason why I believe in solid education against racism and/or negative prejudices to end such problems. Although her parents decided against a white woman marrying a man whose grandmother was black, their attitude is similar to Edwards’.
The premise of Edwards’ belief that racial marriage is better than interracial union is that it is humiliating for black persons to marry white persons because the latter have humiliated the blacks as their slave masters. Edwards writes, “Indeed, it seems almost anti-self to want to mate with someone from a culture that has historically denigrated, despised and oppressed you—and continues to do so. ” The author calls for black mothers to convince their sons to marry black girls, using testimonies of several experts in her article (Edwards).
Apart from a black magazine publisher, the author has consulted a sex therapist who reports that interracial unions may lead to “annihilation through integration, a weakening of the culture and economic resources of the Black community (Edwards). ” Edwards also admires the beauty of black women, and would like to encourage black men to admire the beauty of black women in greater depth than before. Likewise, Helene’s parents believe that her daughter must look no further when the pure white race is so close to her.
Perhaps the strongest support for Edwards’ argument comes from the testimony of an academician who vows that it is only those who keep their cultures strong with racial marriage (such as the Jews) that survive in the long run (Edwards). But, it is not just the academicians, doctors or parents who may try to convince others to shun interracial union. Owen (2002), an Australian Anglo-Celt author, who married a Malaysian with Indian and Sinhalese parents back in 1956, reports that the state may act as the most powerful source of censure.
Her own marriage was considered shameful by a great many people in her community, as well as those in the community of her husband. However, when the state changed its attitude toward interracial unions, the communities changed their viewpoints too (Owen). It is for this reason that I trust in the state education system to take the firmest stance against negative prejudice in all aspects of our lives. Since Helene’s parents cannot go to school now, I believe that the state should take this stance through the media as well. Owen reports that the attitude of the state may change according to population needs.
Following London’s great plague, for example, the state had to change its attitude as rows of brand new dwellings stood empty before all eyes. Immigration become a fad at the time. Subsequently, interracial marriages became common and acceptable. Similarly, Australian policies toward immigration and interracial unions have been changing because of population needs. Between 1778 and 1990, the country was experiencing a shortage of women, and so interracial unions were considered acceptable. But, there came a time when Chinese folks became the objects of loathing.
A Chinese man’s Anglo wife was beaten up by a mob (Owen). According to a news report of the time: “Any white woman who would marry a Chinese showed a character of such moral degradation as to warrant not the slightest confidence being placed in her evidence…(Owen)” This societal attitude placed extensive pressure on interracial couples. Couples that survived the pressure had only to live through a change in governmental policies yet again (Owen). In the United States there was a ban on marriages between the whites and the blacks until the U. S.
Supreme Court ruled that such bans were illegal, almost fourty years ago. Alabama happened to be the last state with a constitution that continued to forbid such interracial unions in the year 2000 (“Alabama,” 2000). According to the constitution of Alabama, there could be no proceeding “to authorize or legalize any marriage between any White person and a Negro or descendant of a Negro (“Alabama”). ” But, in the year 2000, citizens were expected to vote to eliminate the interracial wedding ban. Despite the progressiveness of our times, polls suggested that measures would pass with stiff opposition (“Alabama”).
The man who wrote the ballot proposal, a Black Democrat, stated: “It is wrong. A person should have a choice to marry any person he wants. Interracial marriage is an individual choice and the state should not have a law to prohibit that (“Alabama”). ” When the state of Mississippi outlawed the interracial marriage ban, Roger Mills and Berta Linson were the first to enjoy a state-sanctioned union between white and black (Kirk, 2005). In spite of state approval, however, there was an “outcry sparked by the wedding (Kirk). ” According to Mills, there was a caravan of cars accompanying the couple for a mile at least.
Mills and Linson divorced after having three kids together (Kirk). Carlton (2005) reports that college students fear their families’ disapproval on the subject of interracial dating. As a matter of fact, polls have revealed that a significant number of Americans continue to “oppose interracial dating (Carlton). ” This is in consonance with Helene’s case. The following passage sheds more light on the subject: Rosalind Murray and John Port have been married 20 years and people still stare at them. He is white. She is black. “We still get looks, stares, the stare down,” said Murray.
“The stares come from both sides, not just whites. Blacks give you the stare down. It’s hard to find a place where you’d be accepted. ” Murray and Port, of Boynton Beach, married in 1987, 20 years after the U. S. Supreme Court struck down a Virginia law that barred blacks and whites from marrying – a ruling that allowed Americans of all races to intermarry. Marriages like theirs helped change the country. Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman living in Virginia, married in Washington, D. C. in 1958 after she became pregnant. They moved back to Virginia in 1963
and police arrested them. The Lovings were prosecuted, and a judge sentenced them to one year in jail unless they agreed to leave Virginia for 25 years. The high court’s ruling 40 years ago this week struck down anti-miscegenation laws in 16 states, including Florida. It was another victory for civil rights. In little more than a decade, blacks had won the right to integrate schools, to vote and use public accommodations, including service in restaurants, hotels and buses. But while interracial marriages no longer face legal challenges, many couples are
discriminated against or suffer social and cultural pressures, including rejection by family members, said Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld, author of The Age of Independence: Interracial Unions, Same-Sex Unions, and the Changing American Family (Lewis, 2007). Helene’s parents’ refusal to accept Jack as their son-in-law had nothing to do with the laws of the land either allowing or prohibiting interracial unions. However, the status of such laws is a deep influence on the consciousness of the common people. After all, laws are made for the common people.
To change them requires changes in the collective mindset of the people. Such changes are only possible through efforts to educate the people more effectively than before. Helene loved her parents as much as she loved Jack, which is why she agreed with their wishes on emotional terms. Intellectually, however, she disagreed with them. She was brought up in an entirely different time after all. Her parents were probably not educated to shun negative prejudices as Helene’s school and college had taught her. Indeed, the American education system has been improved, even as the laws of the land have changed.
Nevertheless, Helene’s discomfort in discussing this problem with her parents reveals that our society needs to be educated outside of schools and colleges as well. Helene’s parents do not go to school. Therefore, it would be best for the media to teach them to shun negative prejudices in matters of love and otherwise. Now that a black man has taken charge of America, improvements are certainly expected. Even so, Helene remains upset about her parents’ refusal to accept Jack as their son-in-law. She has not married her cousin either. Her parents did not feel the need to compel her to do so.
Helene’s case continues to upset me as well. It is for this reason that I believe in massive improvements in the mindset of the common people with regards to racism and interracial union. Popular culture is fed on the belief that it is love that makes the world go around. Nevertheless, it is for the media and the education system of America to work in tandem to educate the people about the harms of negative prejudices in interracial unions. Scholars may offer various explanations for racial marriages being better than interracial unions.
States may change their laws to accommodate or prohibit interracial marriages. Lives and freedoms of individuals are positively or negatively affected by such explanations and laws. In order to do away with the menace of negative prejudice, the educators and media of a nation must therefore consider the lives and freedoms of individuals first. Indeed, Helene would be better off if her parents are educated to give up their negative prejudices once and for all. References Alabama To Vote On Ending Interracial Marriage Ban During November Elections. (2000, Oct 23). Jet. Carlton, N. (2005, Mar 10).
Duke U. Column: Bible, interracial marriage not at odds. The America’s Intelligence Wire. Edwards, A. (2002, Nov). Making The Case For Teaching Our Boys To … ‘Bring Me Home A Black Girl. ’ Essence. Kirk, M. (2005, Aug). Where are they now? Roger Mills: a groundbreaking marriage. Smithsonian. Lewis, G. (2007, Jun 16). Forty years after interracial marriage ruling, acceptance still isn’t universal. South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Owen, J. D. (2002). Mixed Matches: Interracial Marriage in Australia. Sydney: UNSW Press. Prejudice. (2005). WordNet: Princeton University Cognitive Science Lab.Sample Essay of AssignmentExpert.com