Getting Rid of Prejudice and Discrimination
Long before Thomas More has written his “Utopia” in 1516 people from various countries and continents were dreaming about the society based on the principles of equality, fairness, honesty, where every individual would feel as a productive member of the society, who is happy and content with the level of his life and social position, treat all the other inhabitants of the country as equal. However, since that time such society still exists only in tales or some dreamers’ fantasies; while in the real life the society is still divided into the groups according to different features, the members of which hardly like or even respect the members of the opposite group. If it is widely known that holding together makes people stronger; such divisions caused by prejudices obviously have a negative impact on the society and each its member. Though the question asking why it happens this or that way was raised numerous times, and many theories about the reasons for ethical or racial inequality can be found, the way to make all people get rid of prejudices and stop discrimination is not likely to be ever found. If there is a chance to find such way, it can happen only after many centuries pass, during which the efforts of the humanity will be aimed on altering the mentality of the nations.
Throughout the history the representatives of different races struggled against each other – Muslims hated the “kuffar” Christians, the rich humiliated the poor, the white humiliated the black etc. The time has passed, and the more people suffered from it – the more they got united. Nevertheless, only those, who have felt the problem of disdainful attitude caused by racial or sex affiliation on themselves or on their close persons, began to struggle for their rights. As the number of such people grew, the government of the countries began to take some measures aimed to soothe the conflicts. Finally, some nations got freedom and can live full life in different countries now. For instance, a person from the eighteenth century would never believe that Barack Obama would become a president as the Afro-Americans have been considered to be slaves and nothing more for centuries, that the Muslim would be friend of a Christian, that a woman would have a right to vote etc. However, such examples showing considerable changes about the rights of the discriminated are met more and more often.
Many things have change during the last several centuries, but regardless the high developmental levels of some civilizations and countries, not all sorts of prejudices have been erased. There are some representatives of different ethnic groups, religious views, who still suffer from the tales of the past. The reminiscence of genocide of the Jewish people during the World War II, is still an obstacle between the German and the Jews. There are numerous examples of humiliation and treating some representatives according to age, sex, race, nationality or other featured groups in a cruel way. A nice example of such hostile attitude on the countries level is the existence of the Chinese, Japan or other districts, Indian reservations on the territory of USA, Turkish districts in Germany. Moreover, the representatives of the different race are often humiliated and derided even at schools as the hate and unfriendly attitude is often originated in the family circle.
However, some steps aimed to improve the situation were taken. In the developed countries the political correctness is used as a mean of deliverance from racism and sexism. There even exist various dictionaries and books, which are aimed to help the individual differentiate between the bias and bias-free language. In her essay Kakutani (2003) referred to the examples from several of them, among which one can find the appendix from “Random House Webster’s College Dictionary”, Maggio’s “The Bias-Free Word Finder, a Dictionary of Nondiscriminatory Language”, Treichler’s “Language, Gender, and Professional Writing”. Many examples offered by Kakutani are obviously ridiculous. For instance, considering the word “black” as having a negative spin and using “payola” for “blackmail” or “outcast” for “black ship” is quite unwise as these words have even n hint about the racial discrimination (Kakutani, 1993). The word man in the words “woman” or a “superman”, to my mind, does not either bring anything offensive or negative about the female representatives. Nevertheless, there are the offers to substitute them by “womyn” and “superperson” (Kakutani, 1993). Some more examples offered by Kakutani (1993) deal with the words, which are regarded as bad, because they are not only male-oriented, but also hierarchical as “king”, “lord”, “master”. Consequently, according to Ms. Maggio the politically correct expression replacing the word lion is “the monarch of the jungle” (cited in Kakutani, 1993). Such claiming is not simply ridiculous, but absurd as obviously different euphemisms are used instead of true identities.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that no problem exists, but shows that in order to find the right solvation of a problem it is essential to find out its underlying reasons rather than fight the consequences. Probably some of the mentioned examples really bring the hints of discrimination, but is dependent on the tone and situation of usage rather than on semantics of the word. Therefore, any word can become an indicator of hate in case the one, who uses it, have such intention. Therefore, not the lexis, but the attitude towards others is a key factor defining the prejudice. This idea was regarded in “The World Police” by Kakutani (1993). The example proving such point of view is the usage of the word nigger in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, which does not make it a racist story and does not make the runaway slave Jim any worse from the white characters, on the contrary, he is described as a fair, kind and honorable person, hence, it is regarded as anti-racist book (Kakutani, 1993).
The examples offered by Michiko Kakutani (1993) are obviously proving the absurdness of analyzing the problem of prejudice trough the prism of vocabulary usage in the language and believing into the “talismanic power of the words”; such approach can rather say much about the semantics or show the consequences of people’s thoughts and attitude, which is in their minds, no more. If there is nothing difficult about removing the so-called bad words from the vocabulary, removing the prejudices from people’s mind and changing their thinking is a real problem. Humans are the individuals, who are more predisposed to accept someone, who is alike, and close to them rather than someone different; but even the close people usually have arguments and offend each other. Consequently, it is in human nature to be hostile towards those, who differ from them not only in appearance, but also the mentally. For instance, the Jews, the Asians, the Afro-Americans, the Native Americans, the Hispanic, who differ from each other, are not likely to accept each other without the conflicts. Such hostility and conflicts create unfavorable atmosphere not solely for individuals’ prosperity, but also for the prosperity of the countries. For the individuals, who are discriminated such consequences as the loss of job, depressions, bend rage against the environment are common. Social groups including such members can not promote the country development, but have negative influence through increasing the crime rates and decreasing the productivity in various economic spheres. As a result, on the international level it can cause warfare, which surely has negative impact on the national and world welfare. On the national level it can be very adverse in the political, economical, cultural domains.
As soon as all people start accepting each other as equal the social groups would not be defined as “black”, “coloured” or “white” the world will become safer and kinder. To my mind, it can be possible if the members of all social groups would be taught to respect and help each other since the early childhood. In such case only after many centuries the hostility between the representatives of different social, national, ethnical groups will be exhausted. However, it can happen on the condition that no new matters for the conflicts will appear. It is a very difficult and time-consuming issue to make this world better; it seems unreal and fantastic. However, if every individual will be put in the equal economic conditions and taught to respect the representatives of other countries and cultures probably it would not become possible to erase the limits between the social groups fully, but at least liberate from negative disposition against each other.