Racial stereotypes are a complex of the misimpression and the prejudice one group of people has against the other. As a rule, these ideas are ungrounded and, most importantly, offensive. Distorted ethnic and racial assumptions are mainly spread in the countries that have a varied population context (“Eliminating ethnic and racial stereotypes” par.1). The reasons for their appearance are frequently inexplicable while their liquidation is always problematic. Brent Staples, Zora Hurston, Richard Wright and Martin King know the discussed issue from within. That is why, all of them have their own knack in displaying the inconsistency and the irrationality of racial prejudices.
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Martin Luther King is widely known for his significant contribution to the protection of humans’ rights. In “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, his appeal to the society’s reason and sympathy is particularly powerful and impressive. King tries to dispel the racial stereotypes with the help of dialogue and persuasion. Throughout the entire letter, he frequently emphasizes the fact that he considers a discussion to be more efficient than a rebel or a protest.
Nevertheless, he still notes that it is nonviolent psychological tension that creates a favorable environment for successful negotiations (King 78). To get his message across to the public, he skillfully uses several rhetoric devices. First of all, while illustrating the injustice employed towards the Afro-American class, King applies parallels with Christ and Socrates (King 83). The reference to the well-known and obvious issues is an efficient tool to make one’s ideas resonate with the majority’s views.
Moreover, in his letter, King makes good use of the rhetorical questions (king 88). He does not want to enforce his views, but he seeks for true understanding and tolerating. King tries to make the society reflect upon the matter of the racial discrimination; he wants people to formulate an independent conclusion as he is sure this conclusion will coincide with his. Finally, being an insuperable orator, he uses influential stylistic devices that are likely to resonate with the public’s mind. King starts his letter claiming that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (King 78). The statement leaves no doubt that this man can succeed in his fight against the prejudice.
Whereas King’s appeal to the public is open and impassioned, Wright and Hurston choose another way to dispel the racial assumptions. In fact, what they do is a persuasion through a life story example. They both make a precise and vivid description of their experiences of racial injustice. Wright’s story is a simply put narration, telling the readers about the endless misfortunes of an Afro-American man. Unlike King, he does not put any rhetorical questions, nor does he try to impress the public with bright allusions or antithesis. However, the sincerity of Wright’s narration and the trueness of the depicted situations have an equally powerful effect on a reader’s mind.
Wrights childhood recollections along with the descriptions of his hard working experience serve as a perfect evident of the existing racial stereotypes that need not be further proved. One is left to speculate upon the issue when reading Wright’s assumption that “the color of a Negro’s skin makes him easily recognizable, makes him suspect, converts him into a defenseless target” (Wright 10).
Although Zora Hurston also uses an experience-based narration in order to eradicate racial stereotypes, her approach is slightly different. While Wright describes himself as part of a disadvantaged group, Hurston tries to emphasize her equality with the representatives of other races. The woman wants the public to get rid of their racial assumptions with the help of her own example. Even though she also describes several cases of her rights’ discrimination, she constantly points out that the injustice has not managed to turn her into a victim. She desires people to realize that she is the same as they are; therefore, the impairment of her rights should be considered similarly unacceptable as the impairment of theirs.
To illustrate the unnatural character of any racial prejudices Hurston says, “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me” (Hurston 15). Both Wright and Hurston sound highly persuasive as they provide a series of stark facts that concern and confuse the society evenly powerfully as the King’s demand for justice.
Brent Staples stands apart in the row of civil libertarians. In his article “Black Man and Public Place”, he does not depict any examples of his rights’ mistreatment or the hard times he had to experience as an Afro-American. Instead, the man intends to put an emphasis on the psychological barrier the racial assumptions create for both the sides. He does not contradistinguish himself of the society but tries to tell people he is also a victim of the prejudice. Staples describes a constant tension he experiences due to the biased attitude. He illustrates several cases when people unwillingly take him as a source of danger and reveals the feelings he experiences in these situations.
Staples is also the one who brings up the problem of racially-sex assumption he had to face. He speaks about numerous examples when women subconsciously fear to walk the same street with him. Nevertheless, he does not blame them for this precaution, as he explains, “Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence” (Wyrick 614). Thus, Staples does not try to blame the public for their narrow-mindedness but wants to consolidate for efficient fighting against it. The journalist suggests that dispelling of the distorted racial assumptions is only possible on condition that it is performed on either side (Wyrick 615). Staples’s sincere wish to depict the ridiculousness of the racial prejudices is so appealing that one is likely to become more tolerant after reading his article.
Staples, Hurston, Wright and King used different approaches to reach a single aim – to help the society realize the absurdness of the existing racial stereotypes. With the aid of these articles, one can see how baseless it is to judge people according to their ethnic belonging. It is, therefore, vital that people do their best in an effort of dispelling myths and widespread delusions. In order to do so, one has to be aware of the reason for their appearance (Mendoza-Denton par.7). As the described examples have shown, the principal cause of misbelieves’ formation is the ignorance of the environment different from the one the person is used to. The lack of knowledge results in making up assumptions that are frequently significantly different from the reality. Hence, the best way to dispose of the false image of certain people is to get to know them better, to understand their phycology and to tolerate with their views.
Eliminating ethnic and racial stereotypes 2015. Web.
Hurston, Zora Neale. How It Feels to Be Colored Me, Carlisle, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 2015. Print.
King, Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The Atlantic Monthly 212.2 (1963): 78-88. Print.
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Mendoza-Denton, Rodolfo 2011, Why are stereotypes so difficult to eradicate? Web.
Wright, Richard. Uncle Tom’s Children, New York, New York: Harper Perennial, 1989. Print.
Wyrick, Jean. Steps to Writing Well with Additional Readings, Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.