Racism is an appalling social and cultural phenomenon existent in different parts of the world. Despite high democratic principles of freedom, equality, and human dignity established in the American society, racism is present in the USA, possibly more than in any other developed country. It targets the most disadvantaged populations like African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Hispanics, etc. and undermines the basic ethical and moral values. The daily experience of these populations is greatly affected by carefully hidden or sometimes openly demonstrated racism and discrimination. In this short essay, I reflect on the problem of racism in the American society and discuss possible causes of this degrading and inexcusable phenomenon.
Racism has been part of the American society ever since Columbus’ ships discovered this land. At first, Native Americans suffered from the most violent and cruel manifestation of racism. Then, black slaves brought from Africa underwent the long and painful history of racial oppression and discrimination (Takaki, 2012). Predominately white population of the United States have gradually formed the belief about its superiority, thus creating the framework for racism that continues into the present days. Although Civil Rights Movement has contributed to a more equal and free society and more just laws for all Americans, the legacy of power imbalance and oppression is still seen today in education, politics, science, and everyday life.
Racism can manifest itself in many ways. Racial minorities are discriminated in politics because it is more difficult for them to occupy some influential positions. Besides, political parties often overlook the needs of minority populations by creating policies catering for the needs of the white majority. Furthermore, racial minorities are discriminated in employment, which consequently contributes to economic discrimination. For example, it is a well-known fact that African-Americans have fewer chances to get a job in comparison with white applicants, and they are often paid less than their white colleagues (Vega, 2016). Children from minority groups have less educational opportunities than their white peers, which puts them at a disadvantage since the very childhood. It is also important to note that racial minorities are often forced to live in overcrowded communities with poor infrastructure because they are discriminated in public housing and not provided equal accommodation opportunities. In general, racism can be found in all spheres including healthcare, criminal justice, service provision, public welfare, and so on (Gallagher & Lippard, 2012).
So why this horrible social phenomenon still exists in the American society and what are its possible causes? I think there is no definite answer to this question because too many factors contribute to discriminatory attitudes and practices. First, racism is learnt in the childhood, so it is possible to say that family norms and parents’ worldviews are to blame for continuous spread of racism. Second, racism stems from disparities in social and economic status. Thus, white people believe that poor and disadvantaged racial minorities are somewhat inferior and should be despised for not being able to earn enough money. Third, there is also a belief that racial minorities are mainly criminals who live in poor communities and rely on welfare instead of earning their living. Naturally, all these beliefs are wrong and stem from people’s inability to see the facts. It is in the human nature to judge someone based on one’s beliefs and perceptions and divide people into insiders and outsiders.
To summarize, racism is part of the culture and history of the American nation. It is present in every sphere of human relations and targets most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. One may suggest that racism is the product of the society, its norms and practices. It is not something that people are born with; rather, it is developed later in life under the influence of the immediate environment. People can be mean, but there is hope they can see beyond the limiting bias and stereotypes and build a tolerant and equal society where people are not judged based on their skin color or socioeconomic status.
Gallagher, C. A., & Lippard, C. D. (2012). Race and racism in the United States: An encyclopedia of the American mosaic. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Takaki, R. (2012). A different mirror: A history of multicultural America. eBookIt.com.
Vega, T. (2016). Wage gap between blacks and whites is worst in nearly 40 years. CNN. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/20/news/economy/black-white-wage-gap/index.html
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