An eloquent plea for tolerance

March 22, 1993

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is Katie Bucher's prize-winning essay:

PREJUDICE: Still A Problem

Many people think prejudice is something of the past. They are wrong.

About one year ago, there was a television news program which showed an experiment done in the United States to see if people would treat an African-American differently than a Caucasian person.

They each took a walk into a mall. They found that they were treated very differently just because of the color of their skin. The African-American found that people were hiding, walking the other way, and clutching their jewelry. He also found that a security officer was following him everywhere he went. When he asked people for change for a dollar, they said no.

On the other hand, the Caucasian was treated with respect and when he asked for change for a dollar, they said yes. As you can see, prejudice still exists.

Prejudice affects many different people. Asians, African-Americans, Native Americans, and many other kinds of people are being teased, discriminated against, and made to feel different from the rest just because of how they look.

Recently, one of my friends saw a picture of an African-American on my binder and said, "I hate those kind of people."

I asked her why she said that. She said that she met an African-American before and she was really mean. Ever since then, she has hated them. That is what prejudice is, after all. It is prejudging on someone's appearance.

For some reason, many whites think they are better than blacks.

When Malcolm X was a young boy, he told his teacher that when he grew up, he wanted to be a lawyer. His teacher said that was not realistic and he was talking nonsense. As you know, Malcolm X became much more than a lawyer.

Many people have devoted their lives to making everyone feel equal. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and James Baldwin are all good examples of people who changed our lives dramatically.

One way I think we can end prejudice is to fix the means of learning it. When a child hears their parents joking and talking about people from different races like they are inferior, the child could copy their parents. If parents would start appreciating everyone for who they are and not by what they look like, maybe prejudice would not be as common.

Another way we could end prejudice is to learn about the history of people of minority groups and their contributions to our country. Then we would appreciate them more.

Even though I am Caucasian, I am affected deeply because of my handicapped brother. When people joke about the handicapped, I feel very hurt inside. If people knew how much they hurt others by being prejudiced, maybe they would stop. In our country, I wish that people would get to know others and ignore what they see on the outside, paying attention to what they are on the inside.

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