centuries: the strained relations among the races.
Despite efforts to put the past behind, signs remain at
nearly every juncture that there still exists a strong
sense of racial dissension. While many Caucasians do not
see the problem being as severe as it is represented,
African-Americans angrily reply that the lighter skinned
race has not had to endure such prejudice and, therefore,
cannot begin to identify with the situation. Frank
Newport, vice president of the Gallup Poll Organization,
says Caucasian Americans do not interpret racism as a big
problem, therefore, they do not see a need for “government
intervention” (Anonymous, 1997; 04A). Similarly, Asians,
Hispanics and other United States minorities believe they
often receive unfair treatment because of their race.
However, President Clinton and several organizations
— including the National Multicultural Institute, whose
main focus is to “sort out the jumble of expectations and
fears that swirl around the initiative’s struggle to
reconcile ethnicity and difference with the notion of one
American nation” (Green, 1998; PG) — are pushing hard to
mend racial tension with a comprehensive program that is
designed to bring all races together. Will it work? Or
will minorities look upon the effort as nothing more than
a Band-Aid covering a much larger issue? To some extent,
concepts such as affirmative action have their place in
society, yet they will do nothing to alter an individual’s
perception of one race or another.
I. ADOLESCENT ASPECT
In the past, childrens’ racial viewpoints have
routinely been shaped by their parents’ perceptions. This
is precisely how racial prejudice is passed down from
generation to generation. However, today’s teens appear
to be breaking free of the antiquated procession by
voicing their own opinions about race relations.
racial hate crimes continue to run rampant, the newer
generation tends to believe there is less interracial
tension than do their parents (Farley, 1997).
What has instigated this considerably lax attitude
among the younger generation is not quite clear; yet a
TIME/CNN poll has discovered that the adolescent
population is far more forgiving of racial prejudices than
their adult counterparts. Of twelve hundred, eighty-two
adults and six hundred one teenagers aged twelve to
seventeen, the younger sect demonstrated a considerable
amount of racial tolerance toward one another when
compared with the older respondents (Farley, 1997).
If given the opportunity, children and young adults
will not adopt negative views of other races if they are
not placed in such an environment that encourages such
thought. However, with the deep-seated hatred that has
been bred into so many generations, it has become
difficult for some of those prejudice intentions not to
trickle down the family line. Yet the TIME/CNN poll was
instrumental in establishing that a good number of
adolescence of all races have successfully “moved beyond
their parents’ views of race” (Farley, 1997; 88+).
To the kids with such an open mind, race is no more
important to them in either a social or personal level;
yet it is not to be overlooked that these same respondents
were still able to recognize the fact that racism was one
of America’s biggest problems today. Even so, over
one-third said the problem — though it exists — is
insignificant (Farley, 1997; 88+). As it relates to their
own lives, eighty-nine percent of the African-American
adolescents who responded said the problem was small or
did not exist at all. Amazingly, the Caucasian
respondents — both young and old — considered racism a
more “dominant issue” (Farley, 1997; 88+) than did the
African-American adolescent respondents.
What does that say about the varying impressions of
race relations? Depending upon which race is viewing the
issue, it appears the seriousness of the problem could be
considerably damaging or an insignificant obstacle.
Still, optimism is high that the younger generation deems
race relations as being in good standing.
This may be a
“sign of hope” (Farley, 1997; 88+) or nothing more than
“youthful naivete” (88+); regardless, it demonstrates a
long awaited shift in the social climate relating to race
relations and its consequences.
Sociologist Joe R. Feagin says the answer may lie
with both options. His interpretation of the lack of
adolescent racism is that reality has not fully set in for
those who have not yet experienced the real world. “You
have to be out looking for jobs and housing to know how
much discrimination is out there” (Farley, 1997; 88+).
Feagin contends that those who have a better grasp of
racial reality are those who are over the age of nineteen.
Reasoning behind this is that comparatively few
African-American teenage respondents said they had been
victimized by discrimination; contrarily, half of the
African-American adults admitted they had (Farley, 1997).
Experts are .