This essay examines in detail racism as a major social issue in America. In addition, the essay will focus on the discrimination of African Americans in America today. In this essay, various viewpoints on racism as a major social problem and, in particular, discrimination of African Americans in America today, are also reviewed and presented. This essay provides a brief review of the literature on racism and discrimination of African Americans in the United States of America.
Purpose of the Research Study
Generally, the purpose of this essay is to elaborate and provide a comprehensive understanding of racism as a major social issue in the United States of America. The essay will also examine discrimination of African Americans in America today. Various pieces of evidence for proving and supporting my viewpoint and prevalence of racism and discrimination of African Americans in the U.S. today have also been gathered.
The research topic for this paper is the racism and discrimination of African Americans in America today. There is an immense interest in racism because it is a key social problem in many parts of the United States of America. It is the general idea that racism affects various aspects of social life, such as social interactions, involvement in communal and societal activities, interrelationships between members of the society and the perceptions and attitudes towards other members of the society amongst others. Similarly, there is an immense interest in discrimination of African Americans in America because there are a lot of Black Americans, thus this problem affects all people.
The side of the argument about racism and discrimination of African Americans is that Black Americans living in America today are more exposed to racism and discrimination than white Americans and other races. These are some of the major social issues that mostly are affecting the social welfare of African Americans.
Racism is a blatant and serious social problem in the United States of America. Different people or groups of people have faced racial discrimination, maltreatment and unfair treatments based on their races, skin colors and origin. As a matter of fact, racism has continued to be a highly controversial issue for more than two centuries in American society. Even today, the problem is still fresh amongst Americans. Racism has become a significant social challenge because thousands of people in the United States today use racial differences to maltreat and discriminate against other people.
Racism refers to any action that is directed towards an individual or a group of individuals either consciously or unconsciously that subordinates, demeans or lowers the dignity of that person or people. Racism is the discrimination of people based on their skin colors, origin, ethnic or cultural backgrounds. According to Alexander Rudolph, racism refers to the belief that members of a particular race, ethnic group or nation possess certain qualities, characteristics or abilities that make them either inferior or superior (4). Racism is developed from or based on societal stereotypes and attitudes or beliefs that people develop towards other people of a different race or ethnic origin. For instance, Rose Finkenstaedt found out that American society has traditionally valued white people than colored people (27). Racists usually believe that members of a given race usually possess particular characteristics that make them behave in a particular, usually a repulsive manner. According to Finkenstaedt, racism is based on individual or societal perceptions on differences based on skin colors, ethnic or social backgrounds (41). The racial difference, thus, calls for unjust or unequal treatment of people from certain races. People who believe in racial stereotypes presume that people from particular races or ethnic backgrounds are inferior, for example, most people believe that Whites are superior to Black Americans. On the other hand, James Waller defines racism as the systematic way or practice of denying people their rights to access basic needs of life, education, economic resources, equal employment opportunities, public utilities and services amongst others based on their race (9).
In the United States of America, racism has become one of the major social issues affecting people today. People from different races have been faced with racial discrimination based on their race. In my opinion, the most affected people in America today as a result of racial discrimination are African Americans. Although various federal laws, policies, and movements against racism have been formulated and developed to curb racism, the issue is still a major social problem in America today. A good example of the anti-racism movement that seeks to fight for the rights of the discriminated person includes the African-American Civil Rights Movement. According to Leslie Harris, racism dates back to the sixteenth century during the slave trade. Blacks were being seen by racist as subhuman beings (25).
Discrimination of African Americans
Discrimination refers to unfavorable treatment or a person, or group of the person based on certain factors such as gender, age, skin color, nationally, sexual orientation and religion. Discrimination can be direct or indirect. Racial discrimination refers to any form of mistreatment or maltreatment of people based on their racial or ethnic origins. Donnellan defines racial discrimination as an unfavorable treatment of a person based on his or her race (12). Donnellan asserts that racial discrimination of African Americans began during the era of slavery, while Blacks were being enslaved and treated as property rather than human beings (17). Even today, most African Americans are being treated as second-class citizens.
Although racial discrimination was a social problem primarily in the southern states of America, the vice spread to all states across America. The spread of racism was due to the Great Migration that involved the relocation of thousands of Black Americans from Southern states to Northern states, as they looked for employment opportunities in industrial estates in major cities in the north such as Chicago, New York, and Boston. According to Harris, the rate of racial discrimination of African Americans also increased radically after World War II, as a result of increased racial tension between Whites and Blacks in the United States (170).
Many African Americans in America today continue to have prejudices and discriminations against them. As I stated earlier, African Americans are the most affected people who have been faced with the issue of racism and discrimination in the United States of America today. Black Americans have faced various forms of discrimination ranging from discrimination at the workplace, education, and provision of healthcare services to the administration of justice by the United States Justice Systems. Black Americans have also been discriminated against because of their association with people or groups associated with particular races. African Americans have been discriminated at the workplaces during recruitment and selection of workers, training and development, as well as during compensation. According to Jost Kenneth, African Americans are usually paid less than their white American counterparts who are doing similar jobs with an equal level of education and experience (42). Some employers also automatically disqualify African Americans who apply for job positions in their organizations simply because they are Blacks. Kenneth also believes that African Americans have been suffering from high rates of unemployment due to racial discrimination by employers. For example, the rate of unemployment caused by racial discrimination amongst black Americans was fifteen percent higher than that of white Americans that stood at nine percent in 2008 (57). As a matter of fact, this indicates the serious racial discrimination against African Americans at the workplace.
The African Americans have also faced institutionalized racism and discrimination that involves social institutions, such as public schools, churches, healthcare facilities and transport services, and sometimes even government agencies. For example, between 1981 and 1997, the United States Department for Agriculture was discriminating against African Americans who applied for loans and financial aid for farming activities (Berry 169). Black Americans were denied access to financial aid for agricultural activities. However, white Americans could be given such loans and financial aids.
In addition, the United States of America has become a residentially segregated society in which Black Americans and White Americans live in different neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are usually serrated based on the quality of the housing facilities. The Whites often inhabit residential areas with high-quality housing facilities and good security, whereas the Blacks usually live in less secure and poorly developed neighborhoods. Marvin Free also asserts that racial discrimination has adverse effects on the health of African Americans (86). This is due to increased stress and stigma resulting from racial discrimination, as well as the inability to access high-quality healthcare services.
Evidence of Racism and Discrimination of African Americans in America Today
Racism and discrimination of African Americans in the United States have a long history. The prolonged presence of two vices in America is also well-known throughout the world. Racism and discrimination of African Americans are some of the most serious social problems faced by citizens of the United States. Various research studies have been conducted to prove and provide evidence that racism and discrimination of African Americans are prevalent and rampant in the United States of America. For example, a report compiled by the United States federal government on the implementation of International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICEAFRD) and submitted to the United Nations in late 2002 showed that racism and discrimination are some of the major social challenges faced by the people of America. Donnellan also reports that racial discrimination against African Americans was prevalent in major cities and towns of the United States (263).
According to Curtis and Lewis, despite the increase in household incomes between 2009 and 2010 by nearly fifteen percent, the gap between the rich white Americans and poor black Americans continued to widen (142). This indicated that black Americans were being discriminated against employment opportunities and other economic activities, hence, unable to generate adequate income and wealth. In the housing sector, more than seventy-three percent of white Americans own their homes, whereas only forty-two percent of African Americans own their own homes. According to Berry, this disparity in homeownership is caused by racial discrimination against colored Americans, especially people of African origin. Berry also reported in July 2011 that more than eighty percent of African American families in the United States of America has been stricken by poverty (90).
In relation to access to insurance services, Banton asserted that forty-three percent of the American population does not have adequate access to healthcare and medical insurance services. Out of this, only fourteen percent are white Americans. The remaining eighty-six percent are African Americans (61). This further shows how African Americans are discriminated against by receiving essential services in America. In the education sector, forty percent of white American youths receive higher education in reputable universities across the United States, whereas only eighteen percent of African American youths could gain admissions to prestigious universities in the United States of America (Banton 133).
African Americans in America today are also highly discriminated against in employment opportunities. A report on the rate of employment that was compiled by Browne in February 2012 indicated that the rate of unemployment amongst black Americans is double that of Native Americans (195). The report further revealed that more than seventy-two percent of chief executive officers (CEOs) or presidents and top managers in most blue-chip companies in the U.S. are white Americans, an indication that African Americans are highly discriminated against high profile positions in most American companies. To strengthen this argument, the report used Microsoft Incorporation as an example. At Microsoft Incorporation, there are over twenty thousand employees. The company also has nearly ten thousand middle-level and top managers. The number of African Americans who constitute middle-level and top-level managers is only two hundred and fifty, or 4.16 percent (Leonard 278).
In the American justice system, racism ad discrimination of African Americans is also a major problem in the law courts. Official statistical data show that a total of ninety-one percent of the judges are Native Americans. This has resulted in large numbers of black Americans getting imprisoned, jailed and even death sentences due to prejudice and biases in judgments and convictions. Moreover, nearly half of the total population of African Americans is inmates (Alexander 166). An investigation by Bailey and Alice on juvenile delinquency in the U.S. between 2008 and 2010 also revealed that the number of African American youths jailed for juvenile offenses was five times higher than the rate of imprisonment of white American youths (267).
Based on the above pieces of evidence, one would, therefore, firmly assert that racism and discrimination of African Americans living in the United States of America today are rampant and widespread. All the arguments and views regarding Blacks as less inferior persons are false and founded on baseless arguments. The scientific community has also approved that the racial differences such as skin color that people use to discriminate against others have no scientific significance. In my view, racism should be discouraged. All humans belong to one species and share a common origin. Minimal differences that exist between human beings such as skin color should not be used as a pretext for discrimination or to rank and classify individuals. People should embrace equality and cultural diversity.
In spite of apparent efforts by the United States federal government to end racism and discrimination of African Americans in the United States, the evil practice is still alive in America. Although African Americans have been living with racism and discrimination since the independence of the United States of America, they do not have to continue living with racism and discrimination in their future. One would hereby like to challenge all Americans to condemn and rebuke acts of racism and discrimination. Each American should view other people as equal, regardless of race, ethnicity or origin. Although the election of Barrack Obama as the president of the United States in 2008 seemed to mark the beginning of a new era, signaling the end of racism, the vice is still prevalent in many parts of the country. Racism has played an important role in the persistent discrimination of African Americans. This has led to massive poverty amongst them. Therefore, in order to ensure socio-economic equality between white Americans and African Americans, racism and discrimination should be stopped and highly discouraged. In addition, various laws that prohibit hate crime and discrimination and related government policies should be formulated, designed and implemented by both state and federal governments to surpass racism and discrimination of African Americans in the U.S. today. Racism is socially unjust and should be highly condemned.