"Racism; I don't know why people think like that. I think it's just an old thing that people can't learn to let go [of]. That's what's wrong with humanity, we can't learn to let go," said Myia Ray.
After conducting a poll at Lowry with 150 students it was concluded that 87 believe that Americans are becoming more racist while 61 believe Americans are becoming less racist. When the students were asked if racism had affected them in any way, 41 answered yes and 18 of those were Hispanic, 18 were Caucasian, four were Native American, three were Asian, and two were African American while 107 students answered no that they had not been personally affected by racism.
It was only a small number of students at Lowry who were polled, but if we had polled the entire school and they had answered the same as the students polled, that would mean that 38% of students at Lowry have been affected by racism in one way or another. These students may have been labeled by others depending on their race.
Kasia Nelson, a freshman, agrees that labeling is useless and somewhat inhumane.
"Racial labeling is a tool that humans use to categorize people based on their individual race. Once you've been labeled a 'certain way' everything you do is based on what you've been labeled. I don't think anybody should be categorized based off of race. They should rather be categorized by how they act towards others," said Nelson.
Dating back to 1964, this is the year the Civil Rights Act was passed. The law banned discrimination of any kind based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This historical act was a big milestone in American history. It meant that everyone was to be treated equally. Although this was now a law, discrimination is not something that can just go away. The people discriminating were not just going to change their mindset on the topic and what they've believed in their whole lives. It took time for things to get better.
Coreon Stokes, a junior, who recently moved from Chicago, thinks the Civil Right's Act is important and admits that he has been judged upon his race.
"I think it has made a big impact because a lot of suffering was going on back then and standing here, as a black male, I think that's very important for us because not only does that show freedom of speech but also it's not every day that you saw people reaching out to help each other back then. Also, it's not every day that you go to school and you're one of the two or three black people here. It's influenced me because one could probably pick me out from everybody in the school, but it gives me reason and a legacy to be a representative for my family," said Stokes.
Discrimination is something humans may do involuntarily. Whether it's the color of one's skin, the clothes they're wearing, their personality or anything else for that matter. However, that's not to say that one cannot change that. Evolving and changing is a way of life. Even if one was raised as seeing another person less than themselves, it's likely that one day they'll wake up and realize that the outside matters no more than the inside.
Myia Ray, a junior, has interracial parents and agrees that her parents' open-mindedness has influenced the way she sees people.
"My mom is Indian and my dad is white. My mom; she's been everywhere. She's been around all kinds of cultures, so I'm open-minded like that naturally because of my parents. I don't understand why people have trouble being open-minded or why they aren't curious," said Ray.
From 2003-07, nearly two-thirds of the hate crime victims perceived the victimizations to be motivated by racial bias. Hate crimes in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) are defined according to the Hate Crime Statistics Act, which specifies hate crimes as those that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity. 48 percent of hate crime victimizations were motivated by racial bias during the 5-year period from 2011 to 2015. (bjs.gov)
In 2016, the 'Black Lives Matter' movement began due to the ongoing issue of police shootings. Race tensions came to a head after a white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old African-American man.
"To be honest, I don't believe in that and I'm going to tell you one reason is that I don't really focus on that Black Lives Matter' because God created us all the same, I can tell you that. I think it's really important for people to understand that. My uncle, who gave me this analogy said, 'we're pretty much the same because we both bleed; we both bleed red.' I think that's not only a funny analogy but a very true and mindful one. It doesn't allow you to think about yourself. It goes to show that everyone is the same; every life matters," said Stokes.
Equality has been an issue dating back centuries. Fewer than one in three black Americans, and not even half of whites, say the United States has made "a lot" of progress toward achieving racial equality in the half-century since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. declared he had "a dream" that one day freedom, justice and brotherhood would prevail and that his children would "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." (nytimes.com)
Stokes affirmed that he's seen that the outside never matters more than what's on the inside.
"I've had a couple of problems back then with racism. I think it's important to see people for who they are instead of what they are on the outside. My dad always used to say, 'never look at a man from his vision, always look at a man from his heart'. It's good to look at it from that standpoint because you don't understand people's background and that's hard enough on them," said Stokes.
Changing views on racism in the nation is still troublesome. There are major problems with the media and the news blowing stories up to get the views, but that is how people turn against one another. Ignorance also has a great role in the way the issue of racism is getting treated.
Senior Susie Palmer disagrees with prejudice of any kind, entirely.
"I mean, I can never get to a point where my mind can understand why people have issues with people because of something like race. Even if you're talking hypothetically and say race doesn't exist, there's still the fact that prejudice is real. Viewing someone as less than you because of an outward appearance, especially skin color, is one of those things that is so bad, for lack of better word, that it's indescribable how "bad" it is. And even if the problem is with someone else's culture, I don't see why a person wouldn't appreciate the beauty and amazing humanity in a culture other than their own," said Palmer.
Cheryl Maes, A Sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, knows that there are different aspects of racism.
"My opinion on racism is that it still exists, but as a sociologist, I make a distinction between race prejudice and interpersonal discrimination (personal/individual racism) and racism which is systemic and embedded in our social institutions (institutional racism). Personal and institutional racism work together reinforcing each other. Racism also intersects with class and colorism so that lighter-skinned, middle-class African Americans, Latinx, Asians, and American Indians experience less (but not zero) prejudice and racism than the poor and working-class. Interpersonal and institutional racism is always evolving. It's not stagnant," said Maes.
The term "Latinx" (pronounced "La-TEEN-ex") is a person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina). Since Spanish is a gendered language the words are differentiated by an "a" or an "o". Consequently, Latin@ began to hit its limit, as those who didn't conform to the male-female gender binary gained more visibility.
Maes adds that there are things one has access to now, that they didn't have in past generations.
"Today, we have the tools of social media to call out the police when we see them engaging in racist acts and the youth are involved in protesting police brutality. But is this any different than when Whites went down to the South to fight during the Civil Rights Movement? I don't see White youths fighting for affirmative action or better social welfare benefits. What has changed is that I believe today more White youths will have friends who are of different ethnic/racial backgrounds, but they will most likely be the same class background so they are similar to one another. They will still have the stereotypes of 'Blacks' and 'Latinx' in their schemas that they will rely on for individuals/groups they do not know," said Maes.
Maes discusses why she sees the millennial generation as more accepting but also more naive.
"I believe younger folks are more accepting of difference, but it is at a personal level and few understand institutional racism. For example, while many youths of color personally experience both the interpersonal and the institutional racism of the police force and criminal justice system, most White youths do not. Consider the police officers who are brought up on charges of manslaughter or first-degree murder for killing a Black man/woman while making an arrest. How many have been actually been found guilty? And while we protest the horrific acts, what is actually being done? Now, here's a question you might have, as do I, the youth are protesting, they are still not the ones in positions of power that can actually change policy. Older White folks are still. Are the White youths who are becoming politicized by this register to vote, run for office, and begin the change? Again, this is similar to what occurred during the CRM and look where we are today. So, this remains to be seen.
Maes agrees that there has also been an ethnicity factor in the way people have been treated and categorized.
"One major shift has been a widening of our focus from the Black and White dichotomy to including the experiences of other minority groups: Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants, Cubans and Puerto Ricans, immigrants from Central and South America, various Asian groups. The one characteristic that unites them all is the color of their skin. The darker their skin, the more likely their experiences are going to be similar to African Americans. Other factors would include class, language, educational level, and skills," said Maes.
One will always have something negative to say, but when it comes to racism, it's never justifiable.