centuries: the strained relations among the races. Despite efforts to put the past behind, signs remain atnearly every juncture that there still exists a strongsense of racial dissension. While many Caucasians do notsee the problem being as severe as it is represented,African-Americans angrily reply that the lighter skinnedrace has not had to endure such prejudice and, therefore,cannot begin to identify with the situation.
FrankNewport, vice president of the Gallup Poll Organization,says Caucasian Americans do not interpret racism as a bigproblem, therefore, they do not see a need for “governmentintervention” (Anonymous, 1997; 04A). Similarly, Asians,Hispanics and other United States minorities believe theyoften receive unfair treatment because of their race. However, President Clinton and several organizations– including the National Multicultural Institute, whosemain focus is to “sort out the jumble of expectations andfears that swirl around the initiative’s struggle toreconcile ethnicity and difference with the notion of oneAmerican nation” (Green, 1998; PG) — are pushing hard tomend racial tension with a comprehensive program that isdesigned to bring all races together. Will it work? Orwill minorities look upon the effort as nothing more thana Band-Aid covering a much larger issue? To some extent,concepts such as affirmative action have their place insociety, yet they will do nothing to alter an individual’sperception of one race or another. I.
ADOLESCENT ASPECTIn the past, childrens’ racial viewpoints haveroutinely been shaped by their parents’ perceptions. Thisis precisely how racial prejudice is passed down fromgeneration to generation. However, today’s teens appearto be breaking free of the antiquated procession byvoicing their own opinions about race relations. Whileracial hate crimes continue to run rampant, the newergeneration tends to believe there is less interracialtension than do their parents (Farley, 1997). What has instigated this considerably lax attitudeamong the younger generation is not quite clear; yet aTIME/CNN poll has discovered that the adolescentpopulation is far more forgiving of racial prejudices thantheir adult counterparts.
Of twelve hundred, eighty-twoadults and six hundred one teenagers aged twelve toseventeen, the younger sect demonstrated a considerableamount of racial tolerance toward one another whencompared with the older respondents (Farley, 1997). If given the opportunity, children and young adultswill not adopt negative views of other races if they arenot placed in such an environment that encourages suchthought. However, with the deep-seated hatred that hasbeen bred into so many generations, it has becomedifficult for some of those prejudice intentions not totrickle down the family line. Yet the TIME/CNN poll wasinstrumental in establishing that a good number ofadolescence of all races have successfully “moved beyondtheir parents’ views of race” (Farley, 1997; 88+). To the kids with such an open mind, race is no moreimportant to them in either a social or personal level;yet it is not to be overlooked that these same respondentswere still able to recognize the fact that racism was oneof America’s biggest problems today.
Even so, overone-third said the problem — though it exists — isinsignificant (Farley, 1997; 88+). As it relates to theirown lives, eighty-nine percent of the African-Americanadolescents who responded said the problem was small ordid not exist at all. Amazingly, the Caucasianrespondents — both young and old — considered racism amore “dominant issue” (Farley, 1997; 88+) than did theAfrican-American adolescent respondents. What does that say about the varying impressions ofrace relations? Depending upon which race is viewing theissue, it appears the seriousness of the problem could beconsiderably damaging or an insignificant obstacle.
Still, optimism is high that the younger generation deemsrace 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 along awaited shift in the social climate relating to racerelations and its consequences. Sociologist Joe R. Feagin says the answer may liewith both options.
His interpretation of the lack ofadolescent racism is that reality has not fully set in forthose who have not yet experienced the real world. “Youhave to be out looking for jobs and housing to know howmuch discrimination is out there” (Farley, 1997; 88+). Feagin contends that those who have a better grasp ofracial reality are those who are over the age of nineteen. Reasoning behind this is that comparatively fewAfrican-American teenage respondents said they had beenvictimized by discrimination; contrarily, half of theAfrican-American adults admitted they had (Farley, 1997).Experts are .