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There are many ways one could define Prejudice, but according to Immigrant Works and Class Structure in Western Europe by Stephen Castles and Godula Kosack, prejudice is “an attitude towards an outgroup of people” (Castles and Kosack 446). Prejudice was also said to be a trait that lies within the individual and their character, it’s a way for people to express their own guilt and flaws to protect their inner self (447). Today within American culture there are several forms of prejudice that reflect Castle’s and Kosack’s theory in mind such as, prejudice within sports, the work place, and cross cultural relationships. America is known for being one of the most successful countries that have a strong background in sports, business/economics, and religion. Prejudice appears strong within the America due to the history of prejudice within society, personnel’s fear of adjusting socialization and eliminating competition, and the fear that the social pyramid will soon collapse and the bottom of the food chain will soon become the top of the social pyramid.
American culture has been known for their success within sports such as football, basketball, soccer, along with several others. Many American’s today gather together to enjoy an afternoon of basketball, or Sunday night football. Some people even get together and pick favorite players for a fantasy draft or for a conversation starter. Sports in America date back to ancient times as a form of live entertainment where people gather together for a good time. Today when people think of athletes they group specific athletes by the sports they play. One example would be how people assume that someone who plays basketball is either black or they are tall, or those who play football in the NFL are bulky or a man of color. When referring to the history of racism within the United States, it was said that those of race were less likely to be educated and were more likely to be athletic. According to Charles Mudede in his article about Black American’s in professional sports Mudede claims, “Many white Americans will, again, imagine that this has something to do with black genes, black athleticism, black African musculature,” and, “Intellectuality is not just discouraged but not even recognized. When you reinforce this attitude by underfunding education, the remaining opportunities for black success are not found in the classroom but in the gym” (Mudede). This claim with regards to athletes of color relates to Castles and Kosack’s theory on how one of the primary functions of prejudice is that prejudice arises from history. Men and women of color, were said to be uneducated in the past, and people believe that those of color are more likely to pick up sports and physical work rather than working in business, science, or picking up a skill like mathematics or biology.
Prejudice in American culture could also be seen in the everyday work place. Today, men are still seen as dominant within the workplace. They are said to be more educated and/or more capable of completing a task or taking power. According to Castles and Kosack’s theory prejudice functions due to peoples fear of competition and fear of a shift in socialization and the status quo. According to Nikki Waller’s Article, How Men and Women see the Workplace Differently Nikki’s data revealed, “A significant share of women say that gender has been a factor in missed raises and promotions. Even more believe that their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future—a sentiment most strongly felt by women at senior levels” (Waller). This data can be dated back through history when society saw men as more educated as women. Men were said to be the head of the household while women were said to be uneducated or that they were meant to be a “stay at home” wife. In the work place once can interpret the prejudice acts as men trying to keep their power status, and men trying to not shift their status by allowing women to obtain equal power. Men act in prejudice ways due to the fear of being overpowered by women with a greater knowledge and background. They are fearful of being overpowered. This scenario could also relate to Castle and Kosack’s third theory with regards to keeping lower class (immigrant) workers at the bottom of the labor market. This plays a part in relation to women in the labor market, because even as history progresses women still must work twice as hard as men to build up their status in the workplace.
My last example of prejudice in American culture revolves about people’s perceptions and judgments regarding interfaith and interracial relationships. Some parents or relatives disapprove of their offspring marrying someone of a different background such as a different religion or different race. If you were to compare this example to Castles and Kosack’s theory in mind, you could compare it to their first primary function on how prejudice dates to history and how prejudice arises from one’s past. For example, throughout history people were known to stay within their own cliques such as similar religions, racial groups, and class. This example of prejudice could be seen in Americas cultural context because when looking back at American history segregation played a major role and people were divided into majority and minority groups, people did not branch off into separate groups or intermingle. According to Lynette Clemetson, “the relative lack support that inter-cultural couples might receive from friends and family in the initial period of their relationship, can give rise to trust issues between them later which makes the relationship difficult,” (Clemetson 2000). People’s reactions to different groups within society could reveal an attitude of disapproval or discomfort. Americans try to reflect the idea of a diverse community, but there will always be that urge to act prejudice, because the idea has been present for so long.
These situations regarding prejudice in American culture could be remedied due to Castles’ and Kosack’s suggestions and theory, but they would not be able to be remedied completely, there is no way to completely remove prejudice thoughts and acts, but there are ways they can be reduced. Castles’ and Kosack suggests the only way to change the prejudice conditions in society is to remove the insecurities that cause them (460). The situations I described cannot be set right in society the way people hope, people could reduce their prejudice thoughts and actions by looking at present day rather than looking back at history, or they could look at statistics rather than stereotypes. There is no way to completely reduce Prejudice, but with time there could be improvements. Within American Culture there will always be prejudice within sports, the work place, and religion, there is not much that could be done to reduce the prejudice within these fields but wait for it to work itself out.
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