The Differences and Similarities of Articles Written by Neil Bissoondath and Brent Staples Written on Racism

The Differences and Similarities of Articles Written by Neil Bissoondath and Brent Staples Written on Racism

Racism – it is a term that a majority of people know of, yet it is possibly the most abused. Nowadays, people use the term “racist” lightly and out of context. No one ever thinks about the actual meaning of racism or how easily they give themselves power to degrade others. Neil Bissoondath and Brent Staples have written articles on racism. Both pieces have similarities and differences. The pieces are similar in the causes of racism but different in the examples and solutions to racism.

There is no exact cause of racism. Many people have different opinions on racism. Bissoondath and Staples have similar perspectives on the causes of racism. Both writers agree that one cause of racism is ignorance. Bissoondath states that “Ignorance, not the willful kind but that which comes from lack of experience, is often indicated by that wonderful phrase, “I’m not racist but…”” (Bissoondath 1). Bissoondath explains that when people start with the phrase “I’m not racist but…,” the sentence is usually completed with something that is offensive. Most people often say something without thinking which then hurts other people’s feelings. People who are racist discriminate against other races. Staples talks about an occurrence that happened to him when he was younger, he explains “Her flight made me feel like an accomplice in tyranny. It also made it clear that I was indistinguishable from the muggers who occasionally seeped into the area from the surrounding ghetto” (Staples 2). Most people judge others based on what they look like and what they’ve heard from others. Ignorance is a cause of racism because some people lack in knowledge and awareness of what racism actually is and how it affects people.

Another cause of racism is stereotyping against one another. If people are being stereotyped, no one will make an effort to get to know what that person is actually like on the inside. “True racism is based, more often than not, on willful ignorance, and an acceptance of – and comfort with – stereotype… so the struggle against stereotype, the basis of all racism, becomes a purely personal one. We must be wary of the impressions we create” (Bissoondath 2). “At dark shadowy intersections in Chicago, I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the – black, white, male, or female – hammering down the door locks” (Staples 2).

There are numerous examples of racism happening everyday, everywhere. Bissoondath and Staples provide different examples of racism. Bissoondath provides examples from other people while Staples provides examples of what has happened to him in his life. Bissoondath provides a second hand story of something he witnessed. “I think of the mover, a friendly man, who said, “I’m not racist, but the Chinese are the worst drivers on the road.” He was convinced that this was so because the shape of their eyes, as far as he could surmise, denied them peripheral vision” (Bissoondath 1). People are often judged based on their appearance. For example, some think that people with short legs can’t run that fast or just because someone is not “pretty” or “handsome” enough, then they must not be talented and no one would like them. Judging people by their appearance is not right because if you judge a person by the way they look, then you miss out on getting to know who they really are. Maybe that person would have turned out to be your best friend or significant other. Chances only come once, and if we ignore those chances, we would miss out on a lot in life. One day, as Staples was headed for work; he went to “the office of a magazine I was writing for with a deadline story in hand, I was mistaken for a burglar. The office manager called security and… pursued me through the labyrinthine halls... I had no way of proving who I was. I could only move briskly toward the company of someone who knew me” (Staples 4). Staples provided a personal story of something he had experienced first hand. Staples provides more insight about what a person who is being discriminated against goes through in their daily life. Racism is a daily occurrence that can easily be decreased when people start thinking before they say or do something.

Although racism is widespread, there are many things we can do to decrease the levels of racism in the world. Bissoondath and Staples each have their own ideas on solutions for racism. Bissoondath states that in order to fight racism, people should treat others equally and be careful of the impressions others get from us. Staples implies that if someone has formed a negative impression or stereotype against another individual, that individual should do something to reassure the other person that what they think about them is wrong. “I whistle melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi and more popular classical composers. Even steely New Yorkers hunching toward nighttime destinations seem to relax, and occasionally they even join in the tune” (Staples 5). If people start to act friendly to avoid others thinking negatively about themselves, no one would be on edge when they encounter people they don’t know. People who are friendly are generally approachable and easy to talk to.

In conclusion, although the authors differ on some aspects of racism, it is evident that both authors think that racism should be eliminated in the world and if people at the very least attempt to do something like refrain from using stereotypes, they can make a difference in the world. “Let us be frank, racism for one is racism for others” Bissoondath 3). This is where the Golden Rule should be put into action. Everyone should treat others the way they would like to be treated in return. Every human being should be respected regardless of their race, appearance or religion.