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Some theories believe that prejudice originates from heredity, and others believe that prejudice will originate due to the social behavior in an individual’s surrounding. Vincent N. Parrillo (2011) addressed prejudice; he belonged to a school of thought that believed prejudice originates from social behavior in the surrounding and not from genetics. With the use of understanding of prejudice by Parrillo, on the source of racism, this paper will attempt to explain the cause of racism by C.P. Ellis’s and work to help explain the prejudicial feelings that he had.
According to Parrillo, the main source of racism in the society is how an individual has been, socialized. Through socialization individuals are able to develop certain values according to the culture they are in. Socialization starts and grows with a child, it begins from a very young age and as a child or as the individual grows in age they continue to acquire more values from their environment or surrounding. The youth and the children in a community will through observation and teaching learn how to act like adults do and will grow believing that what was being done by the adults was right. Ellis was socialized in a family where his father, who was a member of the Klansman; it was therefore not a big deal to Ellis for an individual being a member of the Klansman. Ellis father believed and had also taught Ellis that the Klan was what will save the white people, this he told Ellis when Ellis still of a very young age. Ellis was even taught no to hang around or make friends with the minorities in the neighborhood. As Ellis was still young, an impressionable was created, as the father was a role model to him and thus he had no problem with racism.
Self-justification also contributes to development of racism, this is where individuals will denigrate a group so that they can justify what they think is oppressing them. Ellis searched for a self - justification when everything was not okay as he had expected. Due to the problems that were afflicting him such as financial problems and the heart attack, he searched for where to blame for his woes. Ellis belonged to a group of white individuals who had low incomes and they joined the clan where they blamed the blacks for the financial problems that they were facing.
Other factors according to Parrillo that played a part in propagation of racism are an individual’s personality. A persons’ personality is part of what is created by the experiences one has gone through right form childhood and also the discipline by parents on the child. Ellis’s childhood experiences haunted him as he was affected by his childhood experiences such as the feelings of inferiority that was caused by inadequate clothes which he was forced to put on as he went to school. His father’s way of dressing also made him to feel ashamed and he felt that the people in public made fun of him and his father and were laughing at them. This worked in creating anger in Ellis and this anger he turned it on the blacks.
Ellis was also a frustrated man and frustration according to Parrillo could be a cause for racism. Frustration can be caused by a scenario where resources are limited and leads to rewards not being met. When Ellis was young his father was unable to pay family bills and this made his father to be a drunkard. When Ellis became an adult he was still unable to get a good pay and pay all his bills even though he worked very hard and for a lot of hours. This created a sense of being worthless on Ellis and hatred in his life.
Also a sense of competition can lead an individual to develop prejudice, as to some people they are threatened by competition. Ellis and other members of the clan felt that they were being threatened by the blacks especially in good jobs and since the blacks could now be elected and also be able to vote. Also social norms can also lead to racism, this is where individuals in attempt to conform to the expectations of the society. This can be through popular beliefs, as a young boy the people near him from his father hated blacks. He grew up believing that whites are supposed to be successful and superior.
Ellis’s racist tendencies definitely grew and were because of pressures in the society. Ellis allowed the frustrations he had encountered and social beliefs inculcated in him to develop prejudices in him. Ellis for a long time was led by prejudices but with time he was able to overcome this prejudices and work towards creating a racism free society.