Imagine a group of people sitting around in a living room talking about the new boy in school. They say that he is stupid and ugly. In reality though, they have never met the boy. They only think these thoughts because he is black. In conversation, someone gets the idea that they should dress up like the Ku Klux Klan and go get this nigger. They cut up sheets and go over to this new boys house. When they get there, they ring the door bell and the boy answers; then they beat him up. After all is said and done, the boy is left on the doorstep bleeding to death. That kind of violence is happening all over America.
Its not just limited to African Americans. Asian Americans, homosexuals, and Jews are just some of the groups that are also being victimized. All of these incidences are classified as hate crimes. These are crimes committed against individuals because of their race, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation (Jost 1). Bias-related violence and harassment has been and still continues to be a problem. Education is the solution needed to change the learned behavior. African Americans have been discriminated against since the 1300s, when they were brought over from Africa to be used as slaves in Europe.
They were then brought to the Americas for the same reason in 1619. This was the beginning of many years of oppression. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, African Americans had their first chance to be free. On January first, 1863, president Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This did not free all the African Americans though, just the slaves in the states fighting against the federal government. In 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted, all the slaves were freed. Three thousand two hundred black men, women, and children were killed by lynchings, burnings, or other violence between 1889-1919 ( Jost 7 ).
At the end of World War II, Americans increased concern over racial discrimination once again. In the south, segregation laws separated the races in public schools and prevented African Americans from entering restaurants, theaters, and other public places reserved only for whites. Then the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, stating that all citizens had equal rights. During this time the civil rights movement flourished. In 1990 the Hate Crimes Statistics Act showed that blacks remained the most frequent target of bias-motivated crimes ( Jost 8 ). This proves that at the present time African Americans are still discriminated against.
Like the African Americans, Asian Americans have been victims of consistent discrimination. In the late nineteenth century, Chinese workers came to America to help build railroads. The Chinese workers were openly resented during this time. When Chinese immigration was cut off in 1882, America concentrated their anti-Asian feeling toward the Filipinos. In the 1920s and 1930s Asians were not allowed to own land, go to public schools, and could not inter-racially marry. During the 1960s discrimination towards Asian Americans fell, but in the 1980s it flared up once again.
For example: In June 1982, Vincint Chin, a 27 year old Chinese-American, was fatally beaten with a baseball bat outside a Detroit bar by two white automobile factory workers. They called him a Jap and blamed him for the loss of jobs in the auto industry ( Birnbaum 8 ). This is just one example of how brutal and misdirected hate crimes can be. The newest group to hit the discrimination spotlight are homosexuals. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force states that attacks on homosexuals have increased by 172 percent over the past five years ( Birnbaum 31 ).
This is a new chapter in American history. Hopefully, society can stop the urges of hate crimes against gays before it reaches epidemic proportions. If we address the roots of discrimination and hate crimes, maybe society as a whole can stop the cycle of violence before it gets worse. Prejudice is a learned thing. A person is not born hating a specific group of people. Researchers say such negative behavior is learned from parents, friends, or society in general ( Buschbaum 8 ). America promotes discrimination indirectly. On television children see white cartoons, white angels and white heroes.
These images influence the childs mind to what sociologist Abraham Cibron calls the Rightness of Whiteness. The Anti Bias Task Force, in Southern California, states that by the age of two, babies begin to notice differences in sex and race. By age three they begin to develop racial attitudes, and at age four to five, they cite race or sex as reasons for not playing with other children ( Irwin 9 ). These children then grow up thinking that other cultures are not as good as they are. Most of the people who commit hate crimes are the younger generation under the age of twenty-five (Buschbaum 9).
They commit these crimes for a number of reasons. The most significant reason is extreme insecurity. They build themselves up by putting someone else down says Steven Salmony, a North Carolina psychologist who has studied young members of the Ku Klux Klan. Another reason for committing a hate crime is because they are humiliated by the lack of success they have had. Also, the younger generation might commit more hate crimes because of plain ignorance. If you do not know anything about a certain group of people, human nature will take over and you start to think negative things about them.
Go back to when you were learning to tie your shoes. At first you thought shoelaces were dumb and velcro was better. In the end you learned how to tie your shoes and probably will never own another pair of velcro. This is exactly why these violent crimes are committed. The younger generation may be less informed about a group, thus making the assumption that they are something that they are not. The correlation between hatred and insecurity eventually leads to violence. This means that, in Americas history there is an evident time of discrimination between everyone.
After World War II, discrimination against African Americans and Asians Americans was prevalent. Economically, America was in a recession. Could it be possible that America took their frustration out on the different ethnic groups? Perhaps they used them as a scapegoat? During the current recession, hate crimes have risen sharply as it did in the early 1970s recession ( Baschbaum 31 ). Along with that, 1992 was the deadliest and most violent year for bias-related events in more than ten years ( Birnbaum 31 ). That also coincides with the recent recession. According to history teacher Joan Cullen, prejudice is a disease.
This disease has three distinct stages. The first stage is stereotyping. This is when you start putting individuals into different groups according to a common characteristic. The second stage is prejudice. This is when somebody starts judging people without knowing what they are like. This can also be defined as labeling an African American as being dumb without actually knowing them. The third stage is discrimination. This is where a person acts out their hatred, whether its physical or verbal (Rothenthal 57 ). These three stages need to be recognized and need to be cured. What can be done to stop these crimes?
It has been established that the root of hate crimes is learned behaviors. We need to look at how these behaviors can be changed. Ms. Cullen, says the behavior for hate can be stopped through education. If this were the case, maybe there should be a mandatory cross cultural class that is taught in the Junior High School. Another possible solution would be making society as a whole realize what they are promoting. For example: the public should push the television and cartoon producers to make more colored characters. This may be a violation of the Constitution where there is freedom to think and express what you want.
In some cases education has worked . In Brooklyn, New York there are weekly classes where students use racial slurs in class, but they are learning tolerance, not hatred ( Tarshis 2 ). This specific class gets a diverse group of high school students together and lets them ask questions like: Why do you call me a nigger? Why do you hate me for something that I have no control over? These are just some of the truths that are brought out. This particular class was brought on by the death of Yusif Hawkins, a black teen who was killed by a white youth ( Tarshis 21 ).
It should not take a human life to convince society that it needs to change. Some of the organizations that are blocking the development of the no discrimination movement are the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazi party, and the Skin Heads. The most prominent of the three is the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK started out as a joke between six men ( Scholastic Update 10 ). They thought it would be fun to invent a special club; this special club was only for men and they would wear funny costumes and have secret hiding places. After throwing around ideas, they came up with the Ku Klux Klan.
This was based on the word kyklos, which is a Greek word for circle. At first the Klan never meant to be the most feared group in the United States, they were just having fun. Soon they changed to a dangerous group of intimidators. Their calling card became the burning cross symbolizing Christian supremacy. At the height of the KKK it had five million members ( Scholastic Update 9 ). Today there is still a KKK, but there are only 5,000 members though ( Scholastic Update 9 ). As long as the message of the Klan is spread so is the American hate.
In conclusion hate crimes are a prominent problem in the United States. Even though there are many different reasons why people commit these crimes, I believe it is unacceptable. The chapters of American History are long and sad when it comes to the telling of discrimination. There is a flicker of hope for trying to solve this enormous problem, so we must never give up. Education is the key just waiting to open the locked door, and with out an education we will never have a well rounded America. Everyone in this world needs to come together so that poor innocent kids dont get beaten and left for dead.