In the past and contemporary world, people have developed a tendency of gauging the performance of other people by their backgrounds. The United States of America and the African continent have a long history of association, which can be traced back to the 16th century.
During this period, Spanish and Portuguese merchants went to the West African Coast, where they captured the able-bodied men and shipped them to America. They worked there as slaves. Between the 16th and the 18th centuries, it was estimated that more than five million people were shipped out of the African continent. However, after the emancipation of slaves, some of them were taken to Africa, specifically to Liberia.
There were others who managed to escape this repatriation and contributed to the formation of the African American Society in the United States of America. Although the African American community has experienced a lot of discrimination because of their race for a long time, it has managed to overcome all that. Today, it has been integrated in the American society and plays a very critical role in the growth of the United States of America’s economy.
One Can Never Judge a Book by Its Cover
Judging on the Basis of One’s Age
According to Jarret (160), people should develop a positive attitude towards each other, regardless of their tribal, religious or political affiliations. She has observed that people, especially the young ones, have a habit to looking down upon the elderly. She has stated that most of these young people tend to perceive the old people as dependent on others throughout their life.
As a result, young people see the elderly as a burden to the society. However, Sturges (65-69) disagrees with these sentiments and has stated that young people should communicate with the elderly so that they can learn about their past life. He has described the old people as ‘moving libraries’, because they have a lot of information that can be helpful. Therefore, it would be very unfair for the young people to despise these people based on their progressed age.
They are very instrumental in making sure that the norms of the society are observed. In the book, ‘Heritage African American Readings and Writings’, we find the story of a young girl, who is amazed when she learns of how beautiful the old lady she is talking to was. At first, the young lady seems not to care. She is surprised when she learns that when the old woman was young, men brought her food because of her beauty.
Judging Based on one’s Race
Jarret (160-163), has observed that when the African slaves were taken to the United States of America between the 16th and the 18th centuries to work in the plantations, Europeans looked down upon them and treated them in a very inhumane manners. He has noted that although some of them died in a result of these mistreatments, many survived.
These are the ones who have given rise to a modern day African American Community. He says that most of these Africans were looked down upon because of their ignorance and illiteracy. However, he has noted that these people had a potential within. Soon after the emancipation of the slaves, many African American slaves went to school.
This move helped them realize the need of being educated. Many years down the line, he has observed that many leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. were born. He helped these people demand for more rights from the United States of American government. Today, the President of the United States of America is from the African American community, which is the minority, compared to the whites. This is a clear illustration of how far an individual can go to realize his/her dreams, if he or she is accorded the support he or she needs.
Sturges (56-59) has observed that the white community despised the African American people because of their race. However, he has observed that the African Americans have done the United States of America proud of their becoming the world’s winners in various disciplines.
For instance, most of the celebrated movie actors are of the African American descent. In addition, the African American community has dominated the world of music. For instance, Michael Jackson, Usher Raymond and Robert Kelly are among many musicians, who have won international recognition for their contribution to this industry. In the sporting arena, many African Americans have continued to perform extremely well as their fellow white counterparts.
Currently, Tyson Gay is the fastest United States of America sprinter. He too is of the African American descent. This is a good example of how people should not judge others because of their race or other features, which may be perceived as inferior. If given an equal opportunity, they can give equal or better results. Therefore, people should not judge a book by its cover.
On the same issue, Clement (134-137) has lamented that people from the minority races have been discriminated because they were seen as inferior and worthless in the society. This is partly because of their inability to have a bargaining power. However, as it has been stated earlier, many of these people lack a level playing ground because of the domination by the majority in the society.
Therefore, in an attempt to fight these kinds of obstacles, people need to treat others as equals so that the society can accommodate within it every member. He has observed that the fact that some people cannot carry out certain tasks because of their level of civilization can lead to evolvements of stereotypes. Stereotypes are names given to a person or a group of them based on a characteristic that may be common amongst them. He has observed that stereotypes may affect the targeted person or persons emotionally.
He has stated that these kinds of stereotypes may affect the person to an extent that he or she is unable to perform the daily chores effectively. In turn, a deep hatred is generated between the stereotyped and the other people taunting him or her.. For a long time Europeans and Americans have been creating a notion that Africa cannot liberate itself without their help. This idea has become entrenched in the minds of all the people, to an extent that they all believe that idea is true.
Judging Based on a Person’s Physical Appearance
It is also very difficult to judge a person’s character depending on his or her looks. There are some people in the society who have been looked down upon because of their disability. According to Clement (p.136- 142), every individual has his or her own talent. Therefore, in spite of their disability, the other able-bodied people in the society should not despise them.
He has observed that there are people who have become great artists by using their legs as hands to draw objects. As a result, such people may earn more money than the able-bodied persons. On the same note, there are other people, whose output has not been regarded by many because they are seen as burdens in the society. This is particularly so with wheel chair ridden individuals.
Many people are quick to point at them as dependants and thus, nothing good can come from them. However, that is not always the case. There are some of them who have managed to use their hands while on the wheel chair to create durable and very beautiful products, such as baskets. This means that judging such people based on their disability may be seen as act of looking down upon them.
The world has been changed a lot in the past few decades. As a result, some of the things that were a reserve of a certain group of people have spread to other groups of people.
Unlike in the past where disabled people used to depend entirely on their relatives for their survival, technological changes have taken place and more disadvantaged people in the society can take care of themselves and their families. This means that it is not possible to gauge or determine the performance of an individual based on his or her race, physical or social attributes.
Clement, Edward. The equal Opportunities handbook: how to recognize diversity, encourage fairness and promote anti-discriminatory practice. London: Kogan Page Publishers, 2009.
Jarret, Joyce. Heritage: African American readings for writing. New York: Prentice Hall, 2002.
Sturges, George. Why Racism Is a Mental Illness. New York: iUniverse, 2010.