With the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and those not afraid to speak out against the unjust, such as Martin Luther King Jr., the fight against racism and segregation has made great leaps into the more accepting and integrated society we now enjoy. Government has worked tirelessly in promoting new legislation to ensure equal rights for all who live in America. All citizens now have the opportunity to vote, giving them power in their country’s government. The recent election of our first African American president goes a long way in demonstrating just how much more excepting America has become since the 1960’s. Segregation is prohibited by law. No matter the race or sex, everyone has the ability to take part in all the benefits we enjoy as Americans. Statistics show that the vast majority of people believe any form of racism or segregation is also morally wrong. This is a great sign for a hopeful nation!
While laws are in place to protect the rights of minorities, even in today’s world racism still exists. This is due in part to society itself. There is still the teaching of prejudices that still run deep within society. Laws cannot be the solution to all our problems. For example, there may be laws in place to ensure equal employment, but if the employer harbors racist beliefs there is little way to regulate this law, this has helped people of all races gain rights in the work force. While imprisoned in the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr had a wonderful insight into the power of legal and moral laws “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”(Handy, 2012) In the 21st century I believe this is still the fundamental belief of Americans in regards to our government, yet many prefer to turn the other way to unjust laws, this model of integrity is something I hold dear to my own leadership plan. Even though he was imprisoned for his beliefs he maintained his dignity by continuing his cause in a peaceful manner despite the hate he was faced with.
Children are not born with prejudices, these are learned behaviors.Behavioral theories indicatethat personality determined by the relationship between an individual and their environment("The study of,"pg.4 ). The study behavior appeals most the behavioral theorists, not genetics. Behavioral theory likes to study and measure what they are able to observe("The study of,"pg.4 ). The exploration of cognitive thought and emotion does not hold as much prominence in this theory. Racism is made up by a pattern of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that make someone different from another. Different personality theories have been developed to help explore both the origins and results of personality. Personality dictates who we are, what we do and what we may feel about other races. Martin Luther King was able to realize that for people to change they must first be educated before they could change their thought patterns.
Behavioral studies suggest that our personalities are adaptable, especially about the idea of racism(Cantor, pg.737). The idea that individuals can change their tasks, strategies, and patterns of thought in face of experience is the basis for behavioral theory(Cantor, 1990, pg.737). Cantor states, “A structural approach to personality can reveal much about basic stabilities, and an emphasis on the doing side can contribute knowledge of the mutability of personality.”(Cantor, pg. 740).Even though most theories attribute behavior as a factor that influences personality, behavior theorists take this idea to a more extreme level. Emotion is also viewed in a very similar manner("The study of,”pg.11). Perhaps the best way to ensure equality in our future begins with what we teach our children. Education about what racism is and how to learn tolerance when young is key. Everyone should be vigilant in the quest to end poverty for all Americans. Insisting on legislation that insures equal opportunities for all is our right as voters."Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act? “was one of the questions asked to Martin Luther King (Brown) . To which he went on to reply that racism and segregation has went on in America since the beginning of the country. Implying that one more day to endure racism is one day to many. The time to take action is now. Minorities themselves can have a great impact on society for standing up to injustices and doing all within their power to change social stereotypes.
To see minorities take action to overcome prejudices and succeed is more powerful than words alone. Racism can be a silent illness waiting below the surface of society. If more is not done to remedy this illness it will slowly eat away at us all. Hate and prejudice is a blemish on the morality of America, eventually resulting on the death of virtue. Healing of these deep seated issues is a slow but steady progress, but the good news is that is within our power. The fight to end racism and segregation begins with the individual. Each of us must take steps to change our own way of thinking. I value his accomplishments because he made a difference in how all of us are regarded in terms of equality. No one can do this for us. We should each strive to fully understand what racism truly is and how it affects our lives. We need to realize that it does exist and desire to help change it by educating ourselves and others. We must be willing to change our own prejudices and perceptions that we have learned and refuse to give into pressure from others. Most of all we must desire to change our society as a whole, is devotion to never give up on his cause is inspiring to me. Overall Martin Luther King Jr. perhaps summed it up best with his quote “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” It is intriguing that these words spoken at a much different time are still relevant to us today and will be until racism is truly ended worldwide.
Handy, Dr. Christopher (2012) The Scars of Racism Public Domain Book New York. Print.
Brown, Waln K. (2011) I Have A Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. William Gladden Foundation. Print.
Cantor, N. (1990). From thought to behavior: "having" and "doing" in the study of personality and cognition. American Psychologist, 45(6), 735-750.Web. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/45/6/735/
Ed. (n.d.). The study of personality. SAGE, 1-24. Web. Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/23238_Chapter_1.pdf