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Coping with Prejudice

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All people are unique. However, sometimes being different can bring serious troubles. The society has many prejudices – people may judge a person by the color of skin, nationality, religion or disability. It hurts, but one has a choice: to suffer silently, to confront, or to fight back. For instance, despite of constant fights for rational equality, many African Americans find themselves in isolation – they are believed to be prompt for violence and breaking the law. People with any kind of disabilities are pushed away from the society of healthy people – it is hard to find any TV programs with them, unless the show concerns illnesses and diseases.

Brent Staples describes the difficulties he has to cope being an African American in his article “Black Men in Public Space”. He has to accept the way people behave near him and concludes that he has “the ability to alter public space in ugly ways” (Staples, 1986). He admits that his appearance makes young girls think that he is a mugger, that policemen see in him a potential burglar and salesmen suspect in being a rubber. Therefore, he had to adapt his behavior for the people’s calm and his own safety. He makes everything possible not to interfere with personal space of skittish persons, reacts quietly to police’s attention and sings classic tunes while walking late to show that he is a decent man.

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Nancy Mairs in her essay “Disability” tries to alter a common attitude to handicapped people. She feels offended as ill people are excluded from the normal life. For instance, they are never shown in advertisements despite being “Great American Consumer” (Mairs, 1987). It is believed that the view of disabled people may upset and repel. On the other hand, no one can be sure that he or she will not become handicapped one day. Therefore, Mairs believes that people with disabilities should be tenderly and naturally included in the everyday life of society. They should be perceived not as freaks, but as personalities deprived of some ability.

Stereotypes make people change to fit the “normal” society. Some, like Brent, alter behavior, by foreseeing other’s reaction and trying to avoid dangerous situations. Another, like Nancy, try to alter people’s attitude by talking to other and trying to convince that everyone may become different one day, and it is better to be prepared for this, for instance, by showing disabled people on TV.

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