Arts of the Contact Zone essay
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Contact zones are the meeting places where people meet, interact and exchange ideas and ideologies (Pratt 36). As people interact, they develop perceptions on each other, which could be true or otherwise. At the contact zones, there is exchange of culture, and hence breaking of different cultural ideas and differences that create a boundary hindering trust between different people. For instance, a class offers a perfect contact zone where students from different backgrounds meet. A classroom is reach in diversity of cultures as students hail from different parts of the country of even different parts of the world. If well utilized, such a contact zone can be beneficial to everyone in that place (Stygall 613).
Race is still a divisive issue in many European countries and affects all areas and places of interaction, for example at work place. Racism continues to undermine development in many firms and institutions. The basic reason behind racism is the perceptions that black people have on the white people and what white people think of the black people. In the early European and American societies, the white race was seen to be more superior to other races. Some people have unfortunately remained in this regime and are still in the cocoons of racism. What people should realize is that there is no race that is superior and people should have positive interactions.
There is a difference in perceptions on racism between the blacks and the whites. The whites are of the opinion that there has been an immense improvement in racism issues in the United States. Compared to earlier times in history, the whites are of the view that positive tremendous change has occurred as far as racism is concerned and the white identified as Europeans have created more opportunities, revolutionized North America and made America more democratic akin to Europe. On the other hand, blacks assert that the present high level of inequality especially among the black community is blamed on the white race’s dominance in the political and judicial institutions that hinder reforms to include the American society. According to the blacks, the white race is regarded as a superior race, and this creates an insinuation that the white community could easily overpower the rest of the world. A recent research shows that only a meager 16% of the whites believe that there is discrimination in America currently, while 59% of African-Americans believe that the level of discrimination is high. The difference in opinions expressed assert to how a European in American react to a question from how an African American forms his opinions. The African Americans (black) emphasize high discrimination since they share that information at localized groups that form the nuclei of their social interactions. On the other hand, among the Hispanic, 22% of the Latinos believe that there is high level of discrimination in America today because of the presence of the white dominant hand controlling power.
Slavery is one of the social ills that make the black people have a negative attitude towards the white people. In American history, black people were traded as slaves by the whites. The blacks were regarded as property, and not as people. This ideology has lived to haunt many blacks and they continue to despise the whites. From the things that the slaves underwent in the hands of their white masters, the blacks regard the whites as inhuman. Some slaves were subjected to physical and psychological torture, and this had long-lasting effects on their lives and that of their generations. The claim that whites harassed and tortured the blacks is an undeniable fact, but people should leave history behind and interact in ways that will empower everyone (Ferber 122).
The whites had some justifications to their practice of slavery. In their justifications, the whites used the bible and science to explain the superiority. Many Europeans justified slavery by using the Noah Biblical story in which he lays a curse on his son Ham. Japheth and Shem were blessed for covering their father while Ham and his descendants were cursed to become slaves in the houses of his brothers. The whites claim that the blacks must have done something wrong, just like Ham, for them to be easily subjected to slavery. The experiences that blacks had in slavery are so severe that they would not listen to any form of justification. The black’s view of the whites is that of unkind and ruthless race (Ferber 122).
Colonialism contributed to the different views that blacks and whites have regarding each other. The white community is known to have colonized many black states, and this has left scars in the lives of the blacks (Ferber 120). Most colonialists were ruthless Europeans and the blacks formed a negative opinion and hatred towards them, the melancholic past has been passed on from generation to generations through literature, oral stories and experience of life. Blacks have formed stereotypes on the white people from the way they dealt with those that they colonized. Colonialism is, therefore, one of the factors that have hindered healthy interactions in contact zones. The fact that blacks have negative perceptions on the whites makes them not to interact well with the whites.
There are some stereotypes that are common to both blacks and white. One of them is that either party believes that the other stinks. Another shared stereotype is that either race is composed of sexual deviants. While the black regard the white women as loose and nasty, the whites regard black women to be promiscuous. Each race believes that the other lacks taste in many things such as music, food, clothes, books and comedy. Both races believe that the other does not discipline its children. There is a belief that the kid’s bad behavior is perpetuated into their adulthood. In addition, both races believe that the other is untrustworthy. These stereotypes did not exist in history only, but are also common today. For instance, if you talk of a drug user, most people will think of an African-American of generally of a black man. The reality, however, is that black people are less likely to smoke tobacco, which is a drug, than whites.
The black community has a general negative perception of the European or white community. Healthy interactions will only be possible if the blacks and the whites sort out their differences. The solution to this problem starts with an individual. If each person, white or black, treats the other as a human being, there will be no wrangles. Contact zones will be places of growth where people will learn different things about life that they can apply in their lives. Social places will be areas that will break cultural boundaries and the world will be like one community (Pratt, 39).
The Europeans in America lead a easier life and work hard to attain the life standards and expectations as set by the founders of the nation. White race have a higher affinity for democracy and make alliances aimed at eliminating insecurity while bridging cultures to assert for personal freedom from the large community. Because of the white race’s dominance due to numbers in population, Europeans hold the highest percentage of employment slots in American more than any other race. Even though the Black race rants of being ignored in setting right the national equality, the white people work hard from school, climbing up to top level colleges before joining credible employment opportunities that offer better tenure and rewards. White people have developed the habit of attaining financial independence, which makes them more proactive in the economic sector than the black people.