Cover Story Discussions Features Hoching Store About

Hundreds of racist sites have been put up on the Internet and hundreds of teens are swept into the world of "cyber-hate."


One 14-year-old brushed off racist concerns saying, " I just stick with those of the same kind as me. Everybody else just acts so damn racist."
Just like jocks, preppies, punks, or any other lifestyle, claiming to be a "homie" or Asian is probably nothing more than an identity statement.

Contact Us




The Hate: Racism in Teens Today | by Emily Chao

The American Heritage Dictionary defines racism as: 1) the belief that a particular race is superior to others; and 2) discrimination or prejudice against a particular race. In our modern times, the word racism shouldn't even exist. We should know better than to superficially discriminate against a person because of their race. However, the matter of the fact is that racism does exist, in adults and in teens everywhere.

At the core of racism is ethnocentrism, the view of the world in terms of your own kind. In other words, it is the belief of one's own superiority over another ethnic group. Even as far back as third century BC, Chinese writings and texts have indicated with distaste a race of white skinned, yellow haired barbarians that they thought, evidently, since they were so different from themselves, were descended from monkeys. In the fifteenth century, the Spanish described the American Indians as lazy, deceitful and filthy drunks. As people encountered others different than them, especially in terms of physical appearance and color, they were disturbed, and immediately labeled them inferior. These conflicts became worse as people started immigrating to new countries, trying to find new lives for themselves. Stereotypes soon developed and some still remain, rooted too deeply in society to be changed immediately.

If the racist situation started with adults centuries ago, why are teens affected today? A society's prejudices are mirrored in itself. These attitudes will show up everywhere, and the racists see their opinions affirmed. As American culture grew and changed, the heroes in art, literature, and film were nearly always white. The remaining races were represented as villains or comic interest, including obedient soft-spoken blacks, Mexicans taking a siesta under huge sombreros, or scheming Chinese chattering distorted English. Take the book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for example. Tom Sawyer, the mischievous hero, was white. The beautiful heroine, Becky, was white and blonde. The villain, Injun Joe, was of American Indian descent, a sneaky, lying, evil "savage" if there ever was one. Though Mark Twain was an advocate for a racist-free society, preteens and adolescents sometimes absorb these stereotypes almost too easily. Based on fictional portrayal, anyone who has never met a person of another race can develop deep-seated biases against any of the aforementioned races.

For all the alienated teenagers in search of an identity, the Internet provides them with a chance to be part of something to fill the lonely void. Here lies the breeding ground for racism and hate. Hundreds of racist sites have been put up on the Internet and hundreds of teens are swept into the world of "cyber-hate." Protected by the First Amendment, organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan grow, spreading their hateful messages. The Internet also provides an underground market for hate rock, or skinhead rock, whose fiery lyrics include allusions to "Hitler's glory" and killing blacks.

Another reason for prejudice is the simple fact that people tend to stick with those that are similar to them. Although most of the time it is completely innocent, teens of the same race will form their own "circle" because they have the same language or culture. Says A.W., age 15, "You and your friends can have the same race and be racist simply by not making the effort to include those of another race. Almost everyone is racist and doesn't even know it."

Other teens were asked to give their opinion on the topic (their names will remain anonymous). A 15-year old remarked that she disliked some whites because of the way they are "always acting ghetto and listening to 'black' music…but still acting stuck up, like they are all that. They don't have respect for anyone but themselves. Minorities, in general, are nicer." Another 17 year old said, " Asians think they're so smart, but they're really just a bunch of suck-ups and nerds." One 14-year-old brushed off racist concerns saying, " I just stick with those of the same kind as me. Everybody else just acts so damn racist."

The commonplace of racial discrimination will inevitably bring out prejudice. As minorities are discriminated against, they begin to develop their own prejudices against the majorities, whoever they might be. The hate keeps building up, ultimately leading to a cycle of racial prejudice, making racism a part of society that is harder and harder to get rid of.

What really constitutes as racist behavior? C.C., age 13, says, "ethnic jokes and making fun of people of another race is racist. But taking pride in your own heritage or culture is not racist." Says M.T., age 16, "Not getting a job because of race is definitely racist." M.E., age 14, refers to affirmative action by saying, "If the quota for a certain race at a college is filled up and you have what it takes to get in, but you don't, that is racist." L.O., age 15, says, "Using racial slurs, even jokingly, is racist."

Many teens seemed to have different views on what constitutes racist behavior. A hate rock band, called No Alibi, believed their group was not racist. Their leader remarked, "I don't think of myself as a racist." Although the situation seems serious, there are teen efforts to curb racism. In most high schools around the country, there are clubs to promote diversity and anti-racism. The Internet has hundreds of pages created by organizations devoted to anti-racism, some of them by teens. Most churches have a "Love thy neighbor" type of program.

The disappearance of racism seems unlikely in American teens any time soon. Homegrown prejudices witnessed in southern areas, where blacks are usually the only minority, are slowly fading away, but the densely populated areas are becoming noticeably segregated. Racial grouping is becoming commonplace in regions where there is a large, varied minority population. Prejudicial activity, either violent or vocal, is relatively low as teens keep to themselves. Being segregated may be more of a lifestyle statement than a racist one among American teens today. Just like jocks, preppies, punks, or any other lifestyle, claiming to be a "homie" or Asian is probably nothing more than an identity statement.

Teens will always have varied feelings on the topic of racism. Some will want it eliminated and others may want to expand on it. Tolerance levels will also differ from teen to teen as to what really constitutes racist behavior. Can a simple joke be that offensive? Is hanging out with your own kind a racist statement? Racism today is not something a Civil Rights movement can conquer. The field of groups vary and the superiority-complex is overrated. Do teens have racist tendencies because that's how they find security and identity? Perhaps that American Heritage Dictionary should somehow revise the word racism to better fit the definition of today's times.


Cover Story | Discussions | Features | Store | About Hoching
Copyright (C) 1996-99. All rights reserved. This page was progammed by THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOCHING CLAN, located in Edison , NJ