Prejudice the Many Faces of

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

The sense of loss is so powerful that a humane person cannot help but feel that the worth of humanity has been diminished irrevocably by the loss of the Kiowa culture, language, and lifestyle.

Discussion

The central theme of this essay is that most anti-prejudice essays, books, and speeches rest upon the argument that prejudice is bad and that this statement alone has little impact on the hearts and minds of readers and listeners. There are, however, a number of essays that avoid this trap and instead relate personal experiences of prejudice to readers. Whether the goal of these literary works was to shed light on racism and other forms of prejudice cannot be determined from these readings. The authors of these essays could just have easily been seeking to vent or connect with others having similar thoughts and experiences. Regardless of the goal, the effect is to create a connection on an emotional level between author and reader so that the humanity of the author is revealed. Once this is accomplished, prejudice becomes an unwelcome intruder and the reader regrets and even grieves what has been lost.

Staples accomplishes this through an almost journalistic telling of his personal experiences as an African-American male who likes to walk the streets of Chicago and New York City at night. The emotions conjured are fear, and a regret for our own contributions to this fear. Prejudice, through the words of Staples, becomes a stain on civilized society. Angelou's tale is more deliberate about setting the reader up for a shock when she describes with care a child's anticipation of graduating from the eighth grade and then opens a door to the outside White racist world during the ceremony. The child's racial innocence is ripped from her in a matter of minutes and the reader is left aghast at what has occurred. Through Angelou's words, racial prejudice tramples the dreams of children and breaks their hearts. Kincaid's heart has already been broken by England when readers encounter her through her words. This is evident in her vitriolic rant against English culture and how ill-fitted it is for a Caribbean climate. Through Kincaid's words, prejudice creates social inefficiencies and fuels hatred.

By contrast, Hurston and Momaday choose to largely ignore the negative effects of racial prejudice by focusing on what has been gained and lost. Hurston's innocence as a child may have been lost by the move to Jacksonville, but the central core of her character is both beautiful and amazing in its resilience. Through her words, prejudice becomes something other people waste their time with. Momaday's words seem to carry a similar message, but rather than wasting time with prejudice he describes how an entire culture completely in tune with the natural world can be wiped out. Through the words of these various authors, prejudice and its consequences have many faces; however, changing the way people think about others will depend on how well authors can connect with readers at a personal level.

Works Cited

DiYanni, Robert and Hoy, Pat C. II.…