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Racial discrimination can be defined as the practice of intentionally denying a person access to his/her rights, representation or resources solely because of their race. Racial discrimination in the United States is a significant social issue that affects the social lives of many people. It can be traced way back to the 15th century when Europeans systematically started to colonize the Americas, and later, Africa. These white settlers adopted the notion of superiority over the natives and hence embarked on ‘whitening’ (read, civilizing) the natives. However, this act led them to taking over the natives’ land and forced them to work in the farms as slaves. In effect, these two acts led to exploitation and discrimination based on race; racial discrimination had been born (Do Something). It would persist for a long time yet there are no signs that it would stop. This paper gives an analysis of how specific minority race groups are discriminated against, racial discrimination in the various national systems. Finally, it will give a position whether the vice can be eliminated or not.
Racial Discrimination against Native Americans
Long before the Europeans visited and decided to settle in America, they lived the original occupants of the U.S. The Europeans, seeing the natives as uncivilized, embarked on civilizing them. However, their methods were forceful without total regard to the natives’ rights. Through the use of wars and blatant killings, involuntary displacements such as the Trail of Tears, denial of food and forceful acceptance of biased treaties, the settlers took away the natives’ lands and imposed upon them hardships such as slavery.
With their land taken, many of the Native Americans who survived had to be resettled in reservations, under the merciless hands of the white settlers. Most of them were then forced to go to white settler schools to be‘re-educated’ on values, culture, economy pertaining to the ‘new’ America. This racial discrimination is evident up to this day. 317 native reservations have been neglected and are under environmental threat. The American Indians, natives of Alaska and Hawaii and the Pacific Islanders are still the poorest people in the country. This group also experience high levels of alcohol abuse and suicide (Do Something).
Racial Discrimination against Blacks
West Virginia is the home of slavery, and the English are widely perceived to be the fathers of slavery in America. The English colonists practiced the vice and openly promoted it until it became widespread in the whole of South in early America. It took Abraham Lincoln and a civil war to officially illegalize slavery, although the practice still persisted. The courts were quick to establish racial bases applicable to slavery regarding black Americans at the time. The 19th century witnessed a hardening of racial discrimination in various American institutions in favor of black American citizens.
Later, the courts gave the black American citizens the right to vote and other rights but they were not efficient. The blacks were not adequately protected against such violent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan that specifically targeted the black citizens. Racial discrimination still persisted alarmingly in the South. It was also during this time that racism was at its destructive worst in the US. Declarations of white supremacy, violence against blacks, lynching and racially charged riots were at their highest.
The mid 20th century saw widespread campaigns against black racial discrimination. Early popular Motown musicians, black American politicians, entertainers and civil rights activists all joined hands to fight black racial discrimination. The American Civil Rights Movement was led by the iconic Martin Luther who organized peaceful demonstrations at the time. His efforts were not in vain as America passed and adopted the Civil Rights Act in 1964 that banned all forms of discrimination in all public institutions. While this was a positive step, blacks are still racially discriminated up to this date in many public institutions (Do Something).
Racial Discrimination against Latin Americans
Latin Americans are fondly referred to as Latinos or Hispanics. They have their ancestry in the Spanish speaking countries. Despite having different racial and ethnic origins Latinos are always perceived to be similar with peculiar characteristics; violent but passionate, lazy and extremely sexual. All these traits are always recognizable in most films and music.
Over the past few years, there has been increase in the Hispanic population in the United States. This increase has in effect increased the anti Hispanic sentiment in the country, especially places that had few Latinos in their midst before. Such perceptions have caused racial tensions in these areas where the white Americans feel threatened by this influx (Do Something).
Racial Discrimination against Arabs
Racial discrimination against Arab Americans has been rising ever since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the country in 2001 and the resulting tensions between the US and Arab countries. Violence against the Arab American has been on the rise. This discrimination has not spared the Islamic community either, with most Americans believing that most of them are terrorists.
The Arabs to bear the brunt of this discrimination are those originating from Iraq and Iran due to the volatile nature of their countries back home. Additionally, there are many Christian Arabs who are demonized just because of their race. Such acts are not limited to individuals that appear like Arabs. In most films, many Arabs are always depicted as villains and terrorists. This has promoted the anti Arab sentiment amongst their viewers. This has contributed largely to the racial discrimination at Arabs (Do Something).
The paper has described the different classes of races that are always discriminated against. The next section discusses specific cases and institutions where racial discrimination still persists.
Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice
Racial discrimination is rife the United States criminal justice system. For instance, of the more than 3300 prisoners on death row, most of them are people of color; about 1386 of them are black. This may mean that probably the blacks are violent than the rest, which is not the case. Research has shown that a defendant has a higher chance of getting the death penalty if the victim was white than if he/she was black. The death penalty cases have mostly been left to the whites who exclusively make decisions. This simply means that the administration of the death penalty has elements of racial discrimination. This makes the criminal justice flawed and unjust towards other races.
The statistics in Alabama explain this phenomenon more accurately. Annually, almost two thirds of all murders involve black victims. However, 80 % of the prisoners facing execution in the state were convicted of murders where the victims were white. These statistics cast a doubt on the criminal justice system. Additionally, 6 % of the murders in the state involve white victims and black defendants. However, more than 60% of black prisoners on death row were sentenced for killing a white person. This suggests a bias against the blacks, either as victims or as defendants.
Almost a third of the total Alabama population is black. On the contrary, of the almost 20 appellate court judges, none of them is black. Additionally, there is only one black elected District Attorneys out of a total of 42. Perhaps this explains why two thirds of the total Alabama prison population is black. The Equal Justice Initiative group has been on the forefront in litigating on behalf of defendants who were wrongfully convicted based on their race. Well, they have managed to help in the reversal of 23 capital cases after proving beyond doubt that the prosecutors intentionally blocked black people from jury service (EJI).
Racial Discrimination in the Labor Sector
Bertrand, Marianne, and Sendhil Mullainathan (2004) conducted a research to find out if indeed racial discrimination existed in the recruitment of workers in the US. They sent out fictitious resumes to job advertisements printed in newspapers of Boston and Chicago. The resumes were assigned black and white sounding names randomly to the respective employers.
The trio found out that white sounding names indeed received 50 % more call backs for job interviews as compared to black sounding names. They also concluded that call backs respond more to resume quality for white sounding names than black sounding names. The racial discrimination existed across all spheres of the labor market. From the study, it was evident that racial discrimination is still rife in the US labor market.
Racial Discrimination in Education
Racial discrimination in the education sector has existed for a long time. This paper will look at two studies that have shown that, although a lot of effort has been put in to tackle it, racial discrimination has persisted. In 1999, some community organizations in the country studied racial relations in public district schools. Twelve public schools were studied. The results were compelling; only one district received a pass (a D), black, Latino and Native American students were being expelled or suspended disproportionately, these students also had a higher chance of dropping out or being forced out. The minority students had lower graduation rates than white students and had difficulty accessing advanced classes and other programs for gifted students. All these pointed to racial discrimination in the education system of the US.
In a recent study in September this year, the reverse case was happening where black and Latino students were being given more preference as opposed to white students. This discrimination was apparent in law admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Done by Center for Equal Opportunity, it found out that the odds favoring blacks and Latinos over the whites was 576-to-1 and 504-to-1 respectively. Additionally, a non Wisconsin resident black student had a 70% chance of being admitted to the institution while a Hispanic with similar grades and status (non-residency) had more than 30 % chance of admission. On the other hand, a resident Asian but with the same grades had only a 16% chance while a similar white (to the Asian) had a mere 10% chance of admission (Amren). These statistics prove that racial discrimination still exists in the education system.
Other studies have proved that racial discrimination still exists in the political scene despite the US having a black president (Butler and Broockman) and in the health sector (Understanding Prejudice). The latter came up with some startling statistics; black babies are two and half more likely to die before the age one as compared to white babies, blacks are 50% less likely to receive heart bypass surgery and have to wait longer for the transplants. Lastly, blacks are 25% less likely as whites to receive pain medication.
Racial discrimination has been with the United States almost all along. The fight against racial superiority has been fought many times; it even led to one of the bloodiest period in American history, the civil war. However, it still exists more than five centuries later. It is almost everywhere, in every sector. The two studies on its existence in the education system suggests that racial discrimination will always camouflage and emerge in new forms, no matter how the authorities try to eliminate it. This in essence supports this paper’s position: racial discrimination cannot be extinguished in the United States.
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