Racial Stereotypes In To Kill A Mockingbird

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James A. Forbes once said, “When people rely on surface appearances and false racial stereotypes, rather than in-depth knowledge of others at the level of the heart, mind and spirit, their ability to assess and understand people accurately is compromised”(“James Forbes” n. pag. ). Tragically, many people rely on surface appearances to make judgements on others. These judgements and stereotypes can prejudice juries and common people against an innocent person in the justice system. Racial stereotypes present in society for the past hundred years affect who is presumed guilty of a crime regardless of evidence. In the past, many racial stereotypes have hindered the development of society, and as a result, many reforms were put in place to combat…show more content…
In the book, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, which is set in the 1930s, Tom Robinson had shown that he was innocent through his friendship with Mayella and his crippled arm which renders him unable to commit the crime. Despite his innocence, the jury chose to take the word of white Bob and Mayella Ewell rather than the evidence words of black Tom Robinson’s innocence (222-285). In this case, Tom Robinson was stereotyped by the jury and spectators because he was black. In the same way, racial injustice is also shown in the 1920 Duluth Lynchings. A Lynching is when a mob murders a person who is a supposed perpetrator of a crime before the accused individual receives a trial. In this Lynching, six black men were accused of raping a white woman. A physician who examined Irene, the ‘rape’ victim, determined that there were no signs of assault. However, six men were confined to to the jail and three were lynched (Minnesota Historical Society n. pag.). Just as with Robinson, the men in The Duluth Lynchings were assumed guilty, despite a lack of evidence. The citizens of Duluth were too quick to act in this case rather than hear the accused side of the story. In short, this stereotype boils down to the fact that the word of a white man is taken above the word of a black man. This fact is unfair to everyone,…show more content…
A modern example of injustice is Darryl Hunt. Darryl Hunt was convicted of the assault and murder of a white woman. Ten years later in 1994, new evidence proved that Hunt was innocent: “Hunt's DNA did not match the sample found on the victim's body at the crime scene. Despite the results, however, Hunt's appeals were rejected on the grounds that the new evidence did not prove innocence" (“Darryl Hunt” n. pag.). Even with the new evidence and appeals, Hunt still remained in prison. All of the evidence against Hunt is circumstantial. However, the citizens did not need the evidence to make a judgement on Hunt. Before Hunt even went to trial, he was guilty in the onlooker and the juror’s eyes. He was guilty of being black, which was enough to convict and keep him in prison. As a matter of fact, Hunt was only considered innocent and let out of prison when his DNA was ran in a database. Nine years after Hunt’s DNA did not match the crime scene, “the DNA profile from the crime scene was run in the state database, at the request of Hunt's attorneys. The results matched a man incarcerated for another murder” (“Darryl Hunt” n. pag.). The Justice System only looked at the DNA after the lawyer’s pleas, which proves that they were not actively looking to prove/disprove Hunt’s guilt. He was already convicted, and the people were worried that they would find
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