Black People in America--What It's Like?

Everyone in the United States will experience prejudice sometime in one's life. Discrimination has had negative effects on human relations for many years now, from slavery that began in the 1600's to the modern situation of a person walking on the other side of the street to avoid a confrontation of a person of another race because of long-held prejudices and stereotypes.

One definition of racism is belief that members of one or more races are seen as inferior to members of other races. Racism is widespread in the world and has caused many problems. Racism in the U.S. has been mainly directed by the white majority against ethnic groups such as Black Americans, American Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and people of Chinese or Japanese ancestors. The result has been white domination and discrimination against those groups throughout our history.

Even teens of today experience situations of prejudice. An interview with a 14-year old African American shows it is unavoidable, even for a person her age. As we asked her questions a number of questions related to race relations, she tried to answer them as truthfully as she could.

Q: When have you experienced prejudice by whites?

A: When I go into stores, I'm usually followed or they keep a close eye on me.

Q: How did it make you feel?

A: I feel very angry and sometimes want to use violence to resolve it. It made me feel less than a person.

Q: How did you deal with it?

A: I sometimes do use inappropriate words to express how I feel.

Q: Would you mind being white? How would your life be different?

A: It would be okay to be white in America. Some reasons are because you have more power. There are a majority of white people holding an office. I think there should be more blacks in that situation. You're also treated differently. For instance, no one follows you when you walk into a store because people have a generalization that black people always steal, but I'm not like that. The environment for whites is also less violent. I know some people that are afraid to walk down a certain street in my town. So being white in America does have its advantages.

In a poll shown by Newsweek, issue April 23-25, 1991, shows how some people feel about recompensating for the past when blacks were treated unfairly just because of their color.

Q: Do you believe that because of past discrimination against black people, qualified blacks should receive preference over equally qualified whites in matters of getting into college or getting jobs?

Today in America, racism and discrimination are put aside by most people, but we know it still exists and is still as strong as it was in the 1600's!

On Affirmative Action:

Should Receive Preference19%48%
Should Not Receive Preference72% 42%

Read Mr. Cassutto's Poem: Searching For the Prize and the students' opinions on it!


Racism. World Book Encyclopedia. 16 edition, 1989.

Segregation. Encyclopedia Britannica. 10 edition, 1977.

Races of Man. World Book Encyclopedia. 16 edition, 1976.

Newsweek poll. April 23-25, 1991; sited in May 6 issue 1991, page 24.

Kerri W.
Katherine M.
Nicole B.

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