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Mikaela Kreuzberger
Prof. Jackie Hymes
November 17, 2014
English 115

Racism is still very much alive in the United States of America, however it takes on
different forms that are often more subtle than its pre-civil war era counterpart. Although there
are many other types, the most prevalent in todays society are stop and frisk laws and how they
are used to target minorities, cultural appropriation, and race bending. Racism effects all of us
and is often ignored by most because it is not as severe as segregation or slavery. Social media
acts as a catalyst for spreading information in order to bring out change. But what good is this
awesome tool if no one take action against in justice? Racism is defined as prejudice stemming
from the social descriptions of biological differences between people and categorizing said
people into groups so that they can then be treated differently. This pattern of thought is not a
thing of the past and is worsened in severity by the fact that people deny its existence in todays
Racism has deep roots in american history but is no where near an extinct concept.
During the seventeenth century scientists were determined to prove that some races are better
than others. This psuedoscience of racial hierarchy was used to justify the use of slavery on the
premise that some races were more submissive by nature. These scientists were trying to
ultimately prove that races were different species coming from different origins altogether.
Although it wasn't the intent of most of the scholars and scientists of the time to create such

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dissent, the ideas they put forth proved to be dangerous and pit humanity against itself. This way
of thinking is behind modern racism and Cultural appropriation, stop and frisk laws, and race
bending are the products of oppression.
There is a thin line in defining what cultural appropriation actually is but the most
widespread definition is taking parts of another culture that could be held sacred to others and
devaluing it. By doing this people can unknowingly offend others by not recognizing the
possible negative past between two cultures. Shaping another cultures customs into your own
beauty standards or renaming them in the name of fashion is not okay and even more devalues
something exclusive to that race. Examples of this is wearing Native american headdresses,
Bindis, and headscarves. Although in the United states everyone is given freedom of expression,
one should keep in mind how others can be affected by actions. One argument states that a white
girl wearing corn rows is the same as a black girl straightening her hair as both people are
adopting their hair styles. This statement is flawed because Corn rows are not forced upon
anyone by beauty standards or in the media nor are white girls forced to assimilate by taming
their beautifully wild hair in order to fit in. Blogs are filled with people speaking out against this
very active form of racism through raising awareness to it's doing in the media, by celebrities,
and in politics. Coming to an understanding on what is appropriate use of ethnic themes in
clothing and different lifestyles is important to the development into a better society.
The antonym of cultural appropriation is cultural exchange in which two parties share
customs equally and respectably, an example can be found in mixed weddings where two
cultures come together and share values. This is okay because the two groups come to an
acceptance of each other in a respectful manner. It is important to recognize these key

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differences in the two words but ultimately anything that could offend another should be taken
into consideration before flaunted about.
The word crime seems to be loosely affiliated with minorities and is made even worse by
laws that grant police the ability to search anyone fits the description of a criminal or basically
looks the part. My father told me a story of when he encountered the same injustice. On his way
home from work he noticed that he was being loosely followed, and to his surprise when he
pulled into his driveway the police surrounded him with their cars and helicopters. After his
quick surrender they began to rip apart the upholstery of his car and searched it thoroughly. In
the end they failed to find the kilos of cocaine they were searching for. They then explained that
he fit the description of a wanted criminal, of course there is more to this story but he was never
reimbursed for the damages to the car and the emotional trauma of the situation. Michael
Bloomberg of the Washington post states that this law actually keeps New York safer. He failed
to realize however that many innocent people are targeted vs. the few that actually mean harm.
Safety is kept at the expense of innocent people and my dad explained how embarrassed and
violated he felt being arrested and then given a less than decent explanation of why he was put in
that situation. This became an unforgettable memory for him who was 25 at the time and his two
toddlers and stay at home wife. The cons of this law vastly outweigh the pros and a different
solution should be considered.
The last form of the three is race bending or white washing in the media, this takes place
in casting roles in movies, commercials, and entertainment. The idea behind it is that the
majority of people cannot relate to people of color in productions, the roles in a cast don't call for
diversity, or it doesn't reflect the setting of the work. There has been a lot of uproar through
social media about a new movie, set in Egypt in a time long ago about a story everybody knows.

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Titled Exodus: Gods and Kings this movie is controversial because its cast is primarily American
and European. Ridley Scott, the producer defends his casting as upholding the idea that Egypt is
in the crossroads of Europe and the middle east so they cast actors based on that ideal. This
reflects the ideas of the same seventeenth century scientists that were determined to prove that
the kings of Egypt could not possibly be african. Christian bale plays the Israelite Moses who
saves the day against the all powerful Rhamses played by Joel Edgerton. The only roles played
by people of color is that of the assassin, or thief, or servant. Social media is calling for the
boycott of this movie with the hashtag Boycottexodus. And rightfully so, this movie is the
perfect example of how racism is very subtle but still exists in full force.
The idea of racism is not a thing of the past yet in todays society it is more subtle in
nature. Three forms were mentioned and although these are only a few of the many forms racism
takes they affect most people in some way or another and are the ones usually denied or excused.

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Works cited
Bloomberg, Michael. Stop and Frisk Keeps New York Safe Washington Post: Opinions.
Web. 2014.
The Editorial Board. Racial discrimination in Stop and Frisk. NYTimes .com. Web. 12 Aug.