The Effect of Ethnicity on our Perception of the World Around us We as human being are the direct result of the union of two people. Those two people in turn are each the result of two other people, and so on and so forth…
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It is therefore fair to say that physical matters aside, none of us are unique in our traits or qualities either. We are the result of the biases and perception of each one of those persons, collected into one big trend, and transmitted into us, which we will in turn transmit to another human. These biases and perceptions in turn affect the biases and perceptions of other such collective individuals, which we come to know as races. As a result, we find it an endless cycle, where our race affects our identity, and our perception of the world around us, and therefore the actions we take in that world. This in turn cements our identity and develops those traits that are the characteristic of our race, and in turn restarting the cycle. The effect of race or ethnicity on our identity and thereby perception of the world around is a theme explored in many of the stories and poems in Sherman Alexie's book, War Dances. As a Native-American himself, he drew out on many of his own experiences of that fact and incorporated them into providing a personal insight into the unique stories and poems. There are many examples of this in the very first story, Breaking and Entering, where the protagonist of the story finds himself in a fix for killing a young African-American who attempted to break into his house. The effect of ethnicity upon perception is overwhelmingly prevalent throughout the story. For example, when the young man breaks into his house, the protagonist immediately assumes danger. As it is written, 'I didn't think, there's a black teenager stealing from me. I only remembered being afraid and wanting my fear to go away (Alexie, 2009, page10).' Did it make sense to be afraid of a 17 year old boy, who was stealing DVDs from the television rack? The protagonist himself states that he could not have been sure he had been breaking in with the intent to harm. He states that he had no reason to get violent and protective. Not only was his family out of town and therefore there being no one to protect, but also because the young man seemed to pose no certain threat. He had no weapons, he was not being violent. In fact, he entered the house only after making certain, in his view, that there was nobody home. Why then, would it make sense to harm him? Because as the author said, he was afraid. Perhaps if he had been in a white neighborhood and a black teenager had broken in he would have had the sense to talk to the boy. But being white in a prevalently black neighborhood might have played a subconscious role in the man's being afraid, even though it did not consciously cross his mind. Furthermore, when the protagonist ends up killing the boy and investigation is conducted into the crime, he is not charged guilty with anything, as it was a crime of self-defense. This fact, the fact that in their eyes, a white man was acquitted of the murder of a black man, makes it a matter of injustice and inequality in the eyes of the black boy's family. Would a protest have been conducted if a white man was held innocent in the death of a white boy, under the assumption and likelihood of self-defense? It is unlikely that every death that occurs under the self-defense notion is met with protests, as the law would undoubtedly have been changed if it was. But this murder, because it seemed that a white man, living in a black neighborhood was allowed to walk free, after the death of a 17 year old boy who had no weapons, no criminal record, no intent to
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