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York University
SOCI 1010
Jeff Landry

Who are You? What defines one’s identity? Where one lives? The colour of one’s skin? Or is it the amount of money you make? For being one of the most widely known countries for immigration, one cannot seem to describe what characterizes someone to be Canadian because of its diversity. It seems as though stereotypes have grown to describe what it is to be Canadian. Some say you need to be white, or speak French and/or English; others say that theAsians are taking over because of their intelligence and technology. Would that mean blacks are not Canadian? Or speakingArabic is not the proper language to be spoken? Is it because you live in the city over rural areas? Some say this is an idea of racism, discrimination, prejudice, or even a sense of the vertical mosaic. The answer: it all depends. One can interpret the relation of American History X to the symbolism of what is being questioned. American History X, directed by Tony Kaye (1998), demonstrates how concepts such as alienation, alterity, intersubjectivity, hegemony, and verstehen are inherent in our society which creates racism and discrimination between races and cultures. One can only imagine the amount of problems that may arise between cultures in our society today even though Canada is known to be one of the most multicultural places in the world…but what does this really mean? Contrary to our beliefs, with the amount of diversity Canada is known to have, some tend to disregard the fact that although Canada is multicultural, it may be encouraging more racism and discrimination between cultures and races. Every culture is independent while integrating themselves into society through language, appearance, and attitudes. With the help of Wortley and Tanner’s article “The Racial Profiling Debate in Toronto” (2012) in addition to Lautard and Guppy’s article “Multiculturalism or Vertical Mosaic?” (2012), I will demonstrate how these concepts and sense of discrimination are inherent in social structures around the idea of racism and how this all applies to the famous movie American History X. Racial profiling is a continuous argument amongst cultures in the society. According to Wortley and Tanner’s article “The Racial Profiling Debate in Toronto” (2012), racial profiling exists when “members of certain racial or ethnic groups become subject to greater levels of criminal justice surveillance than others” (Wortley & Tanner in Kenedy; 46). That being said, racial profiling is considered as racism. Racism, according to Drislane & Parkinson is, “a form of discrimination based on race, the belief that one race is superior to another based on the idea that humans can be separated into distinct racial groups, and that these groups can be ranked in a hierarchy” (pg.131). According to Wortley and Tanner’s article, “blacks are treated more harshly after arrest than their white counterparts. In particular, white offenders are more likely to be released at the scene, while black offenders are more likely to be detained and taken into custody for hearing” (pg. 45). This is a good example of racial profiling as blacks are found to be treated differently than whites. Therefore, blacks become ‘subject to greater levels of criminal justice surveillance’than do whites. One can interpret this situation to the movie American History X as the main character, Derek Vinyard, meets Lamont during his time in jail. Lamont was sent to jail for stealing a TV and being accused of assaulting the store owner with it – no evidence – but because he was black, he got sent to jail where Derek was sent for murder. This is just one of many examples that create tension between different races. Race has and continues to be mistaken for ethnicity. However, these are two completely different terms. Race, according to the Canadian Dictionary for the Social Sciences, by Drislane & Parkinson (2007), is, “a classification of human beings into different categories on the basis of their biological 1 characteristics” (p.131). Contrary to this, ethnicity is more of a cultural aspect. That being said, going back to racial profiling, tension that builds between races and cultures is based on racism. What brings up this tension in our society? Racism builds on a sense of prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is, “to make judgment about an individual or group of individuals on the basis of their social, physical, or cultural characteristics” (Drislane & Parkinson; 125). Whereas discrimination is, “the unequal treatment of individuals on the basis of their personal characteristics, predicated on age, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or physical identity” (Drislane & Parkinson; 42). Both are seen to be negative treatments toward other individuals, or groups. These concepts are seen in the movie American History X, as racism is found to be the main theme. One may interpret it is based around discrimination and prejudice. An example in the movie of prejudice can be seen at the beginning of the movie when Danny, Derek’s younger brother, tells Derek that, “there’s a black guy outside breaking into your car.” The need to emphasize on the colour of the individual’s skin is prejudice because it was said to be ‘typical’ that the black male was stealing the car. Supporting this, according to the article “The Racial Profiling Debate in Toronto”, it states that “a survey found that black people, particularly black males, were much more likely to report involuntary police contact than either whites or Asians” (Wortley & Tanner in Kenedy; 47). Does this give right for someone to assume that blacks are more likely to crime? No. However, blacks have said that, “being stopped by the police was a common occurrence for them” (Wortley & Tanner in Kenedy; 47). Why? What gives the police this idea that blacks are the ones to be questioned? Or should we ask ourselves what gives blacks this idea that they are always the ones being questioned? According to Wortley & Tanner’s article (2012), the blacks may have reason to believe that it is because of their race as the article states that, “two factors seem to protect white males from police contact – age and social class – do not protect blacks” (p.47). Putting aside the prejudice and stereotyping towards crimes, how do blacks help their situation? As much as blacks feel so strong about racial profiling nowadays, they solve this by isolating themselves and have dating sites exclusively for blacks, schools for blacks, etc. they are encouraging racial profiling and excluding themselves from society by creating organizations just for the black race. What does this tell others in the society? This does not seem to be welcoming nor does it seem like it enhances the idea of equality. In the movie American History X, the isolation between blacks and white is shown during a basketball match to determine who will rein the court – the loser can never set foot on the court again. According to Drislane & Parkinson (2007), this would be considered as alienation which is “separation of individuals from the control and direction of their social life” (p. 3). In addition, there was an interesting fact that I read in “The Racial Profiling Debate in Toronto” (2012), it states, “black people who are frequently stopped and questioned by the police perceive much higher levels of discrimination in the Canadian criminal justice system than do blacks who have not been stopped. It is of interest that being stopped by the police does not appear to increase perceptions of injustice for whites orAsians” (pg. 50). I found this interesting because this states that when black people are stopped or questioned, blacks automatically assume that it is racist because they are black. This shows that blacks already give themselves a negative idea of the society in which they are in. Some tend to discriminate against themselves and give themselves a false idea to believe it as true which may lead to an idea of inequality in our society. This however is not only towards blacks – but it is for all races. There are stereotypes all over the world and these stereotypes that are due to prejudice lead to false ideas that one believes to be true. 2 Going back to the prima
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