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Racism and Self-Esteem

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    Racism is a belief system which states that individuals can be superior to others on the basis of race. This theory has led to much violence and genocide in the world. It is, in fact, this sickness called racism that led the Nazis to slaughter the Jews. The theory of racism seems to have been applied everywhere in the world, even though religion and universal values inform us that people who are superior are only those who do good in this world.

    Park Mi Na is a seventeen year old mixed-race high school student, bearing a strong resemblance to her African American father. The girl has been taunted throughout her life by children, and stared at strangely by adults who look at her as though she were an alien (Demich). Naturally, the children who have taunted Park Mi Na throughout her life have been raised by racist parents. Furthermore, by looking down upon others, the theory of racism has taught them to feel superior to people from other races. These children, and the racist adults are actually trying to raise their self-esteem by looking down upon another. The girl, on the other hand, may have her self-esteem reduced in the process. This is the reason why African American children in Kenneth Clark’s psychological experiments often started to cry when they were shown brown dolls as compared to the white ones. Clark also found that these children typically preferred the white dolls to the white ones (Woo).

    The damage had been done. The African American children seemed to have already learned that the color brown is inferior to the color white. Perhaps white children had taunted them too, and white adults had looked at them strangely in the process of increasing their own self-esteem. The fact that the African American reacted the way he did, once again implies that these children had had their self-esteem reduced. This reducation in self-esteem was what Clark wanted to control by means of struggling against racial segregation in schools (Woo). After all, children who already feel superior or inferior due to race may strengthen their beliefs in racism through segregation in schools.

    In a newspaper report published in the year 1957, the Governor of Arkansas maintained that peace was not possible without racial segregation. Integration was virtually impossible, in other words, and racial tension was expected to rise as a result of the discussions about letting the African Americans and the whites study together in an academic institution (“Act To Block Integration In Arkansas; Governor Fears Race Riot”). In a racial riot like this, the African Americans were expected to fight for their self-esteem. The white Americans, on the contrary, were expected to protect their notion of superiority by fighting back.

    It is obvious to me that the self-esteem of an individual or a society cannot really be raised through racism, even though self-esteem appears as the only reason why racists are racists. Fortunately, society has begun to look down upon racists themselves. And so, the racists of the past must realize by now that feeling superior by looking down upon others is not a legitimate way of increasing self-esteem. Rather, one should engaged in activities that help society in order to feel good about himself. This would be a genuine way of raising self-esteem.

    Works Cited

    Act To Block Integration In Arkansas; Governor Fears Race Riot”. Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 September 1957.

    Demich, Barbara. “S. Koreans Reclain Biracial Football Champion As One Of Them; Super Bowl Star Hines Ward Moved To The U.S. As A Toddler. His Fame Is Spurring People To Reexamine Old Prejudices.” Los Angeles Times, 13 February 2006, p. A3.

    Woo, Elaine. “Kenneth Clark, 90; His Studies Influenced Ban On Segregation.” Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2005, p. B10.

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