The evolution of discrimination



This is an essay that I wrote for my English class about the evolution of discrimination, after I read the book “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

Discrimination is a very hurtful form of prejudice that affects many people throughout the world. Over the past couple of years, one could say that discrimination has grown in North American society. Racism and sexism are forms of discrimination that can impact anyone. Discrimination of one’s physical appearance can affect young children, adolescents or even adults and seniors. Altogether, these examples are three common forms of discrimination found in North American society today, based on surveys and studies. Based on this evidence, discrimination is still present but in different forms, in North American society.

Racism is a form of prejudice that discriminates people of different races. In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee there is slavery, mockery and prejudice of the black people in Maycomb County. For example, Tom Robinson is found guilty not because the jury has evidence but because he is a black man.  Although To Kill A Mockingbird shows the reader how in the 1930’s in the North American society there was slavery and racism, many studies show how racism has evolved into a more modern version. Now in 2012, there are very few cases of slavery of the black people but there is still mockery and prejudice throughout North America, according to studies and surveys. For example, studies show that in the Canadian society, most people would think that multiculturalism is the problem since some immigrants have more than one citizenship, but in reality it’s the opposite of that thinking. A recent study showed that most immigrants would face more discrimination than an average Canadian. The same study also found that immigrants would usually face discrimination when applying for jobs or during work hours, while at a store, a bank or even a restaurant. Jeffrey Reitz, University of Toronto, 2009»)Many studies also show that in American society, there is discrimination of black and Hispanic people, typically in employment and in medical insurance. One report showed that the earnings of black males are 70 % of what white males usually earn and that the earnings of black females are 83 % of what white females usually earn. According to this report, the black unemployment rate was 10.6 %, while the white unemployment rate was 4.3 %.  This report also showed that more than 80 000 American blacks die because of the lack of health insurance. Also, the un-insurance rate was 19.7% for American blacks and 32.7% for Hispanics. («U.S Department of Labor, 2006»)These examples show how discrimination in North American society still exists but in more modern forms because of the never-ending racism.

 Discrimination of one’s physical appearance is a type of discrimination when people are discriminated because of their looks, their weight, their height or even their clothes. For example, in To Kill A Mockingbird, two siblings named Scout and Jem, start mocking Dill, a boy who they think is too short for their age, without even getting to know him. In To Kill A Mockingbird, physical appearance discrimination is mostly associated with sexism, especially with the way Scout dresses. Nowadays, one could say that discrimination of one’s physical appearance has increased immensely. For example, a research project showed that one’s physical appearance could affect the size of their paycheck, positively or negatively. This research project found that an employee with “below-average” looks would earn about 9% less than an employee with “average” looks. Also employees with “above-average” looks tended to earn 5% more than the other “average” looking employees. Another example would be that most employers would look at the physical appearance either before or after interviewing their future employees. It was found that several casinos, restaurants and bars in the United States did regular weight check-ins of their employees, to make sure that they didn’t gain 7% of their normal weight. This example shows how big businesses have been encouraging discrimination of physical appearance by applying rules on their employee’s appearance. («USA TODAY, 2006») These examples show how discrimination of one’s physical appearance in North American society has evolved in the last five years.

Sexism is a form of discrimination of a person’s gender and it usually includes stereotyping as well.  In To Kill A Mockingbird, Aunt Alexandra who is Scout’s aunt, has very strong opinions about being a lady. She frequently tells Scout throughout the book to act more “lady-like” and she insists on Scout dressing properly by wearing nice dresses or that she attend tea parties and to speak only when she is spoken to. Also, Jem tells Scout that girls can’t do certain things that boys do because of the certain expectations in Maycomb County. Another example of sexism in To Kill A Mockingbird is that the jury during Tom Robinson’s trial was exclusively male. Also there was a special request that women and children leave the courtroom, while Bob Ewell is talking. Today in American society, there is sexism in military services since women are forbidden from participating in combat however they are allowed to fly helicopters or to become doctors. For example a report showed that if the American government would allow women to participate in military services, this action would encourage violence against women. However this theory has not been proved yet. «U.S, Department of Defense’s, 2007”» North American society has created a certain expectation of men and women. If both genders do not play their “roles” right, naturally the society will either stare or expect more of them. For example, society expects women to care for the family or to cook dinner and men to make money or to do activities that prove their masculinity. These examples show how sexism has changed from the 1930’s to today, in North American society.

In conclusion, one can say that discrimination has evolved into a more modern form in North American society. Over the past couple of years, society has evolved because of racism, physical appearance discrimination and sexism. In To Kill A Mockingbird, it is now clear that discrimination has a strong impact on the events and actions that have occurred throughout the novel. Hopefully in the future, society will be able to stop discrimination.

By: Purple Pansy


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