As a child, Ray Charles attended a blind school. The teachers divided the class between the blacks and the whites, even though they could not see each other. This was done to teach the students that even though there was no difference between them, other people would relate to them based on the color of their skin. The society that existed back in Charles\' still exists today in many different aspects, ranging from racism against religions, color, and gender. Racism is a problem that plagues our nation today.
People fall into categories of groups usually based upon ethnicity and race. Sociologists study the behavior of individuals in different groups. The minority group is referred to as the group which they are being discriminated upon. The majority group is considered to be doing all the discriminating. People associate the majority as the group with the greatest number of people. The minority is associated as being the small group. A good example of how this is not correct is the pre-Civil War era. Blacks easily outnumbered the plantation owners. The majority in this case was the blacks, even though they were still discriminated upon. "The majority uses minority groups for a lot of the\'dirty work\' -- those jobs that are undesirable to most people, yet are necessary to keep the society going." (Stewart 8-11)
The way a majority group relates to a minority group is affected by any of thier prejudices. As noted by Stewart, "Prejudice is the belief that you can know people because of their race or the country their ancestors were from. Sometimes prejudice causes us to believe we know what someone is like because of his or her sex or religion. Prejudice allows you to think you know somebody without knowing him or her at all!" (11-12)
A persons\' prejudices against a group of people are thought of or determined by their ideas about the group. These images and ideas about the group are called stereotypes. Stewart describes a stereotype as, "... a mental picture we carry around with us to help us deal with people on a day-to-day basis." (13) Stereotypes dealing with minorities are usually negative. The stereotypes of the group help strengthen the majorities\' beliefs that they are superior and the minority is inferior. (Stewart 13)
There are various stereotypes for various minorities. Blacks are usually thought of as being lazy or dishonest to the majority group. To men, woman are thought of as too emotional and too weak to handle responsibilities and situations. People who have Polish ancestry are sometimes pictured as being ignorant and slow-witted. With all the stereotypes of today, it seems that there is no end to the many different ways majorities refer to and categorize minorities. (Stewart 14)
Certain use of words can hurt different people. If you were talking with a group of other people and someone used a negative stereotype, that person may be offended if it applies to them or someone they know. If a white person used the \'N\' word to associate to African Americans, or if a man calls a woman a \'babe.\' The person being offended can speak up by letting the other know they do not want to hear the language used around them. People should be very well aware that words hurt. If you know you have said something wrong, it is best to say that you are sorry right away instead of causing the person pain further on. By apologizing, it will help be more excusable. "Don\'t use negative words if you don\'t belong to that group." (Bowman-Kruhm 112)
Over the past generations, the meanings of words in some contexts have changed. By changing the way a word is pronounced, or by accompanying a gesture with it, the meaning of the word might vastly change. The word bad, for example, literally means "not-good," however when it is pronounced slightly different as "ba-ad," it really means "good." The reason for this change in language was that the slaves had created an ambiguous language that was meant to be completely misunderstood by the plantation owner, so they could somewhat speak in private. (McKissak 46)
According to McKissak, "No racial name has been more devastating or confusing to a whole race of people than nigger." (44) The word "nigger" has been used in context