Prejudice, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is an irrational attitude of hostility directed toward an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics. Racial prejudice is discrimination against people who are associated with a certain group that differentiates from another; mainly based on physical features. African-Americans were the social group targeted most by this discrimination, based on their skin color. They were thought to be worth less than a human being and so were sold as property into slavery, which had an iniquitous effect on them, even when it was over with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Many believe that racial prejudice against African-Americans was only brought upon them by the whites, but as Charles Waddell Chestnutt shows in “The Wife of His Youth” there was discrimination between African-Americans themselves based on their skin color, manners, morals, and education.
Charles Waddell Chestnutt demonstrates African-American prejudice toward each other based on their skin color through his work of literature “The Wife of His Youth”. He begins with the introduction of the Blue Veins society and their dean Mr. Ryder. The Blue Veins society was organized by colored people in order to constitute social standards among the other African-Americans.
By accident, combined perhaps with some natural affinity, the society consisted of individuals who were, generally speaking, more white than black. Some envious outsider made the suggestion that no one was eligible for membership who was not white enough to show blue veins. (1)
This organization did not accept people, or made it a lot harder to be accepted, if they were not of a light skin color. They used aesthetic judgment to evaluate the worth of these beings which is a lot like what whites did, when they decided that African-Americans could be used as property. “…and that if most of their members were light-colored, it was because such persons, as a rule, had...