Our society is one in which everything, including its members, to be easily categorized and labeled. Race, religion, sexual preference, and ethnic backgrounds are just a small number of ways we discern between different peoples. It is human nature to want to explain and divide the elements of our world. However, this categorizing of parts can create a rift between peoples from different walks of life. This promotes ignorance and indifference. Labeling people in such a way skews our view of reality and removes objectivity from our perceptions.
This leads us only to focus on our differences while ignoring all of the wonderful things we have in common. This hindrance of perspective is a product of our own creation: Institutional racism. In a society so skewed by stereotypes, it is often that the facts are taken very much for granted. For instance, in light of our recent attacks on the United States of America, many people harbor hatred and resentment towards people of Middle Eastern descent. Many people look at Middle Easterners and see nothing but an Arab terrorist.
In actuality, many of these people have been American citizens as long as you and I, and in many cases are Christian rather than Arabian. ?in the one split of the second moment in which we see a person, years of conditioning causes our minds to make them into a much deeper and complex image. Whether or not the predispositions are true or not are consequential, because the impression has been made. Situations like the aforementioned one, helps to fuel the fire of institutional racism. The skewed view through which society sees its members varies from person to person and from group to group.
However, society itself has its own set of generalizations that it attributes to certain groups. These generalizations stereotypes that allow us to make presumptions on people whom we have never even met or talked to with in a split second of encountering them. In abiding be these stereotypes and not drawing our own conclusions we not only support institutional racism we support our own ignorance this subconscious decision to support helps to ensure that institutional racism will continue to survive and strive in our society.
Perhaps the most disturbing fact about racism is that human beings have, in a sense, thought it into existence. We create it all out of fear and ignorance towards people who are just a little different than us. Thinking something into existence is an idea that many Native American cultures used to embrace. That is, before their culture was raped and destroyed be colonists. The Native American way of life vastly differed from ours in the era of colonization, most intriguingly in that there was no god or omniscient deity. The Native Americans lived in harmony with the land and thus had no concept of land ownership.
The Europeans, who ironically were escaping their own religious persecution, had no interest in native culture. They were more than happy to take the land, which the Indians did not own for personal gain. The Europeans forced out the Indians and killed them by the thousands in a show of ignorance and indifference that rivals, that of the holocaust. This lack of respect for human life, based strictly on the beliefs Sherman Alexie’s novel, Indian Killer, gives us a great social commentary of our skewed view obstructs reality.
To the untrained eye the novel appears to be an average murder mystery. In actuality the novel is about allusion to the European persecution of Indians. In, perhaps the grandest of ironics it is because of our own ignorance that many people miss the true meaning and importance of this novel. Toi Derricotte shows us another fact of institutional racism in the Black Notebooks, which entail its effects on the African American community. Her memories provide us with some insight into what many black people have to endure on a daily basis.
Being that Toi is light skinned, with regards to other people of similar decent, and because of that she becomes subjected to many lewd racial comments. Perhaps if her skin where darker she would have been spared, regardless of the content of her character. Often times it seems she can almost society from two different perspectives. Realistically, the color of our skin does not change how the world really is, and skin color does not change what we see. It is what lies beneath that ultimately make up our perception.
Our brain shapes everything we see, touch, taste, smell and hear. If we do not mold them in such a way as to eliminate our ignorance’s, we are allowing for racism to flourish. Through tolerance and thoughtfulness we can crush the barriers that bigotry has set up and release the grips of racism on our society. Accepting each other’s differences, as true signs of our individuality, we may be able to see how truly the same we all are. We cannot seek to understand every culture in out world, but we can seek to understand humanity.