The 2000 Essay Contest Winners:
1st and 2nd Place

High School Division

First Place

Xavier McLean
Grade 10
Bloomfield High School
Bloomfield, Connecticut

The show Seinfeld is a show with many prejudices. It is about a white man in the comedic business. He has a group of white friends. They made jokes about New York's minority population. Most of the Indians either sold food out on the street or drove taxi cabs. Black people on this show are selling things on the corner or working at a dead end job. This show makes me angry. I usually change the channel when it comes on television. This amplifies stereotypes big time. Stereotypes like Indian cab drivers, hustling black men and white men who hardly work but have many luxuries.

What really boggles my mind is how many people liked this show. No critics I read ever noticed how prejudiced this show was. Another thing that made me think is how they paid the cast so much to make fun of minorities. This clearly shows who is minor in the world of television. Shows like this attract one kind of crowd. Most of the viewers of this show were white. The ratings for such a prejudiced show are high. What also angers me is how they ridicule shows like Moesha and The Hughleys. Because these shows talk about white people and how they act, they are complained about and tried to be removed from the air. I think this is unfair and this proves that discrimination against one another was not killed when slavery was.

Second Place

Osman Haji
Grade 11 (ESOL student from Somalia)
Conard High School
West Hartford, Connecticut

The movie Swing Kids made me feel very sorry about the Jewish people, because they were treated very badly in that movie. The Nazis were persecuting everybody who is disabled or Jewish. I really feel sorry about Arvid too, because he was disabled and the Nazis were prejudiced against him. In that movie he lost his friends, because of the Nazis. He lost his life because of the Nazis. I think that kind of behavior causes a lot of problems in real life. There were a lot of stereotypes in that movie such as Jews and blacks are bad. The Nazis did not let the people listen to music that was produced by Jewish people or blacks. In the movie Arvid's friend Thomas became prejudiced against Arvid. In the movie he said, "He doesn't belong." In that case, that means he doesn't belong because he is disabled. A lot of people when they see that kind of prejudice believe and react to it. In Swing Kids the Jewish people were nothing. The Jewish kids were beaten up on the streets. Anybody who tried to help the Jews would be beaten up as well. At first most of the kids liked the music that was produced by Jewish producers, then, when the Nazis came, everybody turned away from the music, because they would be beaten if they listened to music that was produced by Jews.

When I saw this movie I thought and said to myself, "Why didn't they kill Hitler?" Then I realized that Hitler had more power than the Jews. He had propaganda. He gave the kids what they wanted and he brainwashed them. I feel bad whenever 1 see that movie, because I think he is doing something bad, but he is trying to make it look good.

Read the High School Honorable Mention Essay

Middle School Division

First Place

Kathryn Kubik
Grade 7
Harborside Middle School
Milford, Connecticut

Why Should Prejudice Be Stopped?

A movie that clearly illustrates prejudice is A Time to Kill. The setting of the movie took place in the southern U.S. It was about a black family whose daughter was tortured by two white men so badly she was rushed to the hospital and nearly died. For this little black girl, it was a life or death situation. The father was so furious about what happened to his daughter, he killed the two white men. He was afraid they would not be properly punished otherwise. Meanwhile the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses on his lawyer's lawn and kidnapped the attorney's assistant in retaliation. She was eventually found and rescued from her captors.

To his lawyer, the father stated, "Our children will never play together. You will always think of me as black, Negro, or just different, but never like another white man." In court, the lawyer told an incredible story and changed the jury's mind, finding the father innocent. As a thank you, the father invited the lawyer to a party with his family. Their daughters, one black and one white, became very good friends. If they can get along why can't we all?

People should not look at appearances, but rather assess people as individuals. The movie demonstrated how prejudice creates hatred. This made me feel very sad and determined to change this. The authors of our Constitution wrote that document intending to create freedom and equality for all. I feel through education and tolerance we can end prejudice.

Second Place

Katie Lugli
Grade 7
Sedgwick Middle School
West Hartford, Connecticut

Prejudice vs. Reality

Bring It On was a movie about two teams of cheerleaders and their competitions. It was a good movie but there was prejudice in it. In this movie there were jocks who made fun of male cheerleaders because they were doing a "girl sport."

I didn't think this was right because that's just like saying because someone's interests are different, then he or she is unacceptable. The jocks teased and harassed the male cheerleaders during the school day and at the competitions, making them feel inferior and uncomfortable.

I think this movie promotes being sexist. It promotes the idea that because something is typically done by one sex, it should only be done by them and if the other sex does it, then it's wrong. The movie could still be good if the teasing and harassing were taken out. I think when people watch this movie they see and start to believe that "male cheerleaders are not right and they act girlish." These examples support the idea that it's okay to make fun of people because they are different.

I believe that movies like Bring It On, with examples of prejudice and stereotypes, should present diversity more positively or not be made to begin with. These types of movies promote teasing and poor treatment of different types of people. Bring It On could easily have a more positive effect if the male cheerleaders were complimented on their skills.

Read the Middle School Honorable Mention Essays