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Giving Back

12/19/2015

Professor V:

I would like you to be aware of my opinion of the intense race issues taking place in America today. We need to stop being bystanders and we all need to take a look at the harsh reality (prejudice) that still exists in our Country today.

There is an alarming amount of black men murdered by the hands of those meant to protect us, an epidemic of mass shootings, shootings in schools, in Churches (Charleston), riots, and the continued exposure of alleged racist public figures. We are in racial turmoil and in the last year I have been inundated with horrific images of what I perceive to be racist acts, in particular, the video clip of the black female student being thrown out of her chair by a school officer in her classroom at Spring Valley High School.

Racism has been a continued problem in this Country and it needs to stop.  As a young black male I feel a responsibility within my community to move race relations forward in a positive way. I believe this is everyone’s social responsibility. Growing up I had many teachers, coaches, and mangers that reminded me of “Dr. Sweeny” in the movie American History X. These mentors did their part pushing racial unity forward, and influenced me to do the same. As a child I never saw black or white but noticed it was prevalent in other kids.  Now with what I have learned, I believe that these learned social stereotypes and behaviors were probably learned at home of within their own community.

I was a METCO student who attended an all-white Jewish school in the affluent town of Brookline. Being a young poor black male you would think I would feel out of place but I did not.  I believe that I contributed to pushing racial diversity forward without me even being aware of what I was doing.  In hindsight, I reflect upon the experience and realize that by my constantly promoting healthy athletic competition that I was promoting culture diversity.  When it involved sports or any type of physical activities, I would strive to be my best. As a result, I became very good at sports and others recognized this talent.  Cultural differences are over shadowed during athletic events, competing and the satisfaction of winning brings the team together regardless of race, color, and religion. I made many good friends of from all different walks of life, we formed a comradery of having fun winning/ or completing a set goal.  These social interactions, sports, parties, dances, dates, etc., allowed me the opportunity to enhance diversified social interactions.  I realize now that I was not a bystander, I did not condone prejudices, and I have contributed to diversity by being an active participant in what was becoming a racially diverse environment in my new school. I was like a bridge between different races, cultures, and economic status.  I would introduce my friends from my community into this new community and vice versa.  I was actually bridging the gap in race relations by being socially active and contributing to the interaction of two very different communities.

There is only one cure for ignorance and that is education.  Prejudice is ignorance and with continued exposure and communication one can continue to learn different perspectives from different cultures. The best way for me to be an active participant in race relations is to start within my own community and use my influence to encourage diversity. I will start by being the example, by learning more about racism. I will make every attempt to stop any acts of racism or prejudice that I see occurring within my own community. I will then attempt to encourage my peers to do the same and then escalate my efforts by participating in and supporting anti-racist community events, protests, rallies, and programs. If I can do these things first, I will be regulating all negative and ignorant behavior and simultaneously forming unity within my community.

My contribution to racial diversity clearly was much more simplistic as a kid.  Now that I am a young adult researching the methods of civil rights leaders who paved the way for us today, I realize how difficult and dangerous their efforts were trying in trying to diminish the hate. Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin and Muhammad Ali all had one thing in common, to bring the problem of racism upfront and personal to the eyes of all people who refused to see the truth. Malcolm would be very bold and direct in expressing his feelings regarding those who condoned and promoted racism, blasting them with verbal assaults whenever he had a chance whether it be via newspaper, interviews or radio, forcing Americans to take notice of the discriminatory practices taking place at the time. Martin Luther king Jr. did the opposite, he forced the American people to see the reality of the situation taking place across the Country by using peace and peaceful demonstrations that attracted a political following.  They all sacrificed so much, (Bloody Sunday in 1965), to ensure equality and opportunity for my generation.

As those before me by encouraging my peers to join peaceful protest rallies and strive for careers that can make a difference in changing racial bias and stereotypes that continue to be in place today will be my contribution to the fight.  Social media is a great tool to use to diminish hate, everyone can contribute by promoting diversity in music, film, sports, and through pop-culture phenomena.  I also I can contribute in helping to vote for candidates and other political figures who make ending racial injustice a priority.

After studying social psychology, my goal is to bring awareness to prejudice and racism that continues to exist within my own community and to contribute by ensuring my community is tolerant and accepting of anyone who wants to live without hate.  My hope is that my involvement within my community will engage today’s youth and create that infamous “ripple effect” that will spread throughout my community and continue to impact those outside of my community by impacting tomorrows leaders to become positive role models that  encourage tolerance and acceptance.

Nobody should live a life holding in hate, because its baggage that will ultimately kill you. The movie American History X is the reality for many communities. This is a problem that can be solved by promoting racial diversity and speaking out against prejudice behavior.

Manuel Israel

12.19.2015 – Social Psychology

 

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