Race prejudice can be defined as the act of having prior judgment and or assumption of a person or something without having enough knowledge about the person or something in order to do so. Race prejudice has been here for the last few centuries and though a lot has been done to minimize it, it has not been wiped out entirely. It has been said that it is a product of a group position which is partly true but it is also limited to an individual.
Normally, an individual will tend to do things and be around people one is familiar with. Trudging in unfamiliar new grounds and doing things which are out of what someone is used to, in most circumstances will cause resistance and inherent need to eliminate the threat. According to Blumer, racial prejudice comes from different group relationships other than an individual point of view. People from a specific group come together because their way of life is similar and it is easy to get along and live together (Blumer, 1979). This leads to the rise of a group that feels it is more superior, also known as the in-group, and every other group that is deemed less superior becomes known as the out-group. The in-group which is the dominant group discriminates on individuals from the inferior groups which are subordinate.
He also argues that the dominant group believes that the subordinate group is fundamentally different and estranged. Believing this is the case, they feel more entitled to some rights, resources and certain standing in society. The superior group has constant threat from the desire of the members of the subordinate group who want to be on the same pedestal as them.
Members of the superior group want to maintain their society status, power over the rest of the group and maintain their livelihood, if this is threatened; they develop apprehension, fear, bitterness and resentment. Therefore, prejudice against the subordinate members stems out from these feelings of the superior group. This prejudice is merely a protective mechanism which aims at safe guarding the interest of the dominant group. Blumer never forgot to highlight how race had power to shape and influence the economy and social classes in the society. He did so knowing that other factors like technology and history dynamics played an important role in shaping and maintaining the racial order. In the changing economy, the dominant group will take up key managerial roles and leave the lesser groups to the lower positions. Basically, these clear cut racial systems bring about oppression, hierarchy and inequality.
Organized racial groups with defined agendas may influence the public and achieve a political standing (Blumer, 1979). Allport on the other hand argues that prejudice is brought about by an individual’s prior experiences, decisions and training. He defines prejudice as hostile feeling toward someone because they belong to a group one has ascribed abhorrent qualities (Allport, 1958). He further adds that this hostile feeling is not just a hastened prior judgment before one gets to know all the facts but it is judgment resisting facts and is oblivious to the truth and honesty. The prejudice may be channeled to an individual or a group as a whole, he goes on to explain that this act makes one feel more powerful and heighten their self esteem. It is just a way of venting out someone’s or a group’s underlying problems. He analyzes further the various levels of violence escalating from negative prejudice and discrimination.
The first level is Antilocution which is the spoken abuse. People here talk freely to their neighbors, family and friends about their feelings but they do not act on this, it is very mild at this level. The next level is the avoidance, in cases where the prejudice is intense; an individual avoids members from the sidelined group. The person being prejudiced against is not harmed in any way; instead the prejudicing party takes the entire burden and accommodates the other person. Third on line is discrimination which is leaving out members of a certain group from certain functions, employment, residential houses and even schools. Next on the list is physical attack, here violence is directed towards the people being discriminated on. In cases when the discrimination is extreme, there is extermination which is getting rid of the person or people being discriminated against.
In this level there is lynching, killings and genocide which crown the highest degree of violence. An individual is fully responsible for their feelings and actions (Allport, 1958). In conclusion Allpor’s argument is true but only to some extent. This is because if someone from a particular group chooses not to act on the group’s interest, they may end up being discriminated against.
Therefore, an individual will not have a big impact on these unending differences. Blumer’s argument stands out more because when you act out as one, there is no fear of discrimination hence a positive impact can be made.
Allport, Gordon W. “The Nature of Prejudice.” The Pacific sociological review 1.
1 (1958). Print. Blumer, Hebert.
Race prejudice as a sense of group position. San Diego: Perseus books, 1979. Print.