There have been a lot of racial controversies among the American citizens both among the Black American and other immigrants together with Native Americans. This has brought about controversies like if affirmative action should be encouraged among the communities that are considered less privileged. This paper is going to the history of racial discrimination in America and its effects.
Racism entails believes by individuals about race as the primary source of traits together with capabilities with racial differences contributing to inherent superiority or inferiority of a given race. In institutional racism, certain groups may be deprived of their rights, benefits or can be subjected to preferential treatment. Racism in America has for long been an issue of controversy from the colonial time. The country has had majority of its occupants being whites compared to other races that do exist. Most people who have or long been victims of racial discrimination in the states include: African Americans, Irish Americans, African Americans, American Jews, and Asian American together with other immigrant groups.
Racial discrimination has been practiced in a variety of sectors including: employment, government, and housing together with Education. Racial discrimination was done away with in mid 20th century but still racial policies still continue to exist. A substantial part of the US population still holds racist attitudes with individuals of each American Ethnic group expressing some aspects of racism in dealing with members outside their ethnic group (Lawrence, 2005).
Racism towards ethnic Americans
Native Americans have lived on the North America continent for the last 20,000 years. They have had a significant impact on the history together with racial relations of America. During colonial and also independency periods, a series of disputes were staged against Native Americans with an aim of taking resources away from the Native Americans. As a result, land was taken, people were forcefully displaced and others killed and several hardships introduced to them. After United States came into existence, the idea that suggested removal of Indian was accelerated. (Berger, 1997)
However, some Natives were allowed to stay in condition that they could be subjected to racist institutions. What followed was constant resistance from the Native Americans which came to form a constant feature in the history of America. Native American’s territories were integrated to be part of the United States. Native Americans, who had survived, were discriminated against and were also denied equality before the law. They became part of the State (Mcdonald, 2009). They were consigned to reservations that comprised of 4% of the United States territory. Agreements that they had with them was broken and thousands of them were forced to go embrace a residential school scheme that whose aim was to reeducate them on the values of the white settlers , cultures and also their economy. Dispossession when on further through concessions which increased problems, led to royal rates exploitation, environmental pollution together with misuse of funds that they had been entrusted with. Native Americans were discriminated against (Goudge, 2003).
Some whites like George Washington believed that Native Americans were also equal although their society was inferior; they decided to appoint agents who will teach them on how they should live with the whites. They came up with policies that could help bring about the civilization that they needed to the Native Americans. The policy consisted of a 6 point plan that included the following that applied to the Native Americans: fair justice, regulated buying of land from the Native Americans, promotion of trade, encouraged experiments that could help bring change to the Native Americans and punishment for those who violated the rights of Native Americans. Native Americans were later granted the citizen ship through an act called the Indian Citizenship act that was enacted in 1924 although prior to that almost two-thirds had become citizens (Marcus, Mullins, Brackett, Tang, Allen & Pruett, 2003).
Discrimination against African Americans
According to Denney, 1992, thousands of slaves from Africa used to serve European colonists prior to slavery becoming racial based. They did the service together with other Europeans who were serving indentured servitude. Africans slaves were sometimes freed and awarded land after a term although it was rare. Prior to American Revolution, Nathaniel Bacon organized a rebellion against the Virginia governor and the exploitative system that he represented in which the rich landowners took advantage of the poor. The poor united in the fight against the regime putting aside their racial differences. Both the blacks and poor whites that were being exploited joined hands in the fight. After Bacon died, the participants were enticed to disarm with an amnesty promise. After which the rebellion lost strength and subsided (Bhatt, 2006).
Blacks were used as farm laborers. They were also used as domestic servants, shipyards, and docks. Only the rich were allowed to own slaves. The poor whites who were also working as laborers felt that their labor was being devalued by the black laborers. This led to the social rift based on color which became deep rooted in the American culture. Although importation of slaves was illegalized, it continued in the US. The ban only applies to states that were under the confederation states of America. Only slaves that were under the confederation states were freed but slavery continued in the USA until the 13th amendment was declared on December 6, 1865 (Fox, 2001).
Approximately 4 million blacks were set free from slavery. Despite the freedom and amendment, discrimination continued with the existence of biased practices such as: educational inequality together with widespread criminal acts towards blacks. The new century saw hardening of institutional racism together with impartial delivery of justice to black citizens. This led to worse forms of racism that involved racial discrimination, expression of supremacy by whites together with isolation. Racism that was a problem of the south spread nationally through relocation of African Americans from the south to industrial centers located in the north (Jonas, 2005).
Discrimination continued to be practiced towards a wide range of people that included Asian-Americans, Latin-Americans and Caucasians. Poor whites who predominantly occupied the southern rural were also classified in the same category as African-Americans. Social crimes that targeted Americans emerged like the Anti-white crimes in San Francisco and Zebra murders of which a group called Death angels were responsible. Others included Beltway sniper attacks that had a target of killing 6 whites a day for a period of 30 days.
Strive, conflict and reconciliation.
The US has since then undertaken reconciliation together with conflict resolution among the minority groups. This has led to the modern assimilation of the descendants of Europe to the modern, larger White American Group. Black-White separation is slowly fading away in most areas together with cities. Despite the continuous pattern of change, individual changes are minimal where by the US still remains a residentially isolated society with the Whites and Blacks inhabiting separate neighborhoods that differ in quality. Racial segregation could be the reason as to why there are differences in mortality rates between cities (Fox, 2001).
According to Goudge, 2003 studies show lower mortality rates in male and female African Americans that live in areas that have low levels of housing separation. If equal distribution of healthcare services across the population regardless of the racial background could be possible, studies show that more than 886,000 of African Americans could have been avoided. This is because of unequal access to insurance/ inadequate insurance policies, poor service together with reluctance to seek medical treatment. Studies have shown that black Americans are likely to miss important treatments that involve use of modern technology compared to whites (Jonas, 2005).
Through affirmative action policies, access to education and employment for women together with minority groups can be improved. This can be achieved through addressing effects that have been brought by discriminatory treatment in the past and through encouraging public institutions like universities to be a bit more representative of the population. Such programs should include: recruitment and preferential care to people from areas which have historically been disadvantaged or through use of quotas. Other groups that are considered dominant do not support affirmative action as greater access of the historically unprivileged groups to employment positions will be a disadvantage to them (Bhatt, 2006).
To them this could demonstrate over preference for certain applicants based on backgrounds at the expense of quality. Others feel that merit should be the only consideration when selecting between applicants. There are others who criticize affirmative action on the grounds that it continues to encourage division based on race. On the other hand, the group that supports affirmative action feels that the claims of injustices by the dominant group can not be supported by facts. They base their argument on statistics that show that affirmative action has not resulted to lesser opportunities among the Whites (Fox, 2001).
With the raging debate on whether those who are perceived to be less privileged and have been subjected to previous racial injustices should be empowered, it is difficult to come to an appropriate decision. This brings about controversy where affirmative action should be encouraged or discouraged with both groups feeling that they are being sidelined. The debate continues to attract the attention of US citizens and it’s unclear if a decision that could be able to satisfy both parties will be found.
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