Racism in America
Racism remains the subject of major social concern. Scholars and researchers actively discuss the means to eliminate the cultural, social, economic, and political factors that drive the development of racist attitudes in contemporary America. Nevertheless, and despite the persistent efforts to eradicate racism as such, it still remains one of the distinctive features of the American culture; and where the need to demystify racism emerges, the scope of the phenomenon should be readily expanded to cover a whole set of economic and cultural beliefs. The problem is not in that we cannot eliminate racism; the problem is that we limit the scope of racism to the practice of exclusion; and to ensure that we are able to combat the roots and the consequences of racial complexities at all levels of the social structure, we need to develop complex public policies to address the politics, economics, and culture of racism in America.
The features of racism are readily traced at the political, economic, cultural, and business level of social relationships, turning racism into tool of achieving certain social goals and pursuing specific social benefits. From the economic viewpoint, the modes of production, private property and the accumulation process have largely predetermined the emergence of the complicated racial attitudes and beliefs. As America has been going through the most active phase of its economic development, the process of accumulating economic resources was inevitably linked to the concepts of force, plunder, and conquest. The land which concentrated in the hands of the few promoted overtly discriminative attitudes toward other races, and the economically dominant classes viewed racism as the necessary prerequisite of their social and economic prosperity (Wilson 24). As a result, “although the political arena is the most indeterminate in explaining the maintenance of oppressive arrangements, the state has generally operated to protect these arrangements, especially when they favor the dominant class” (Wilson 25).
The situation is not better in politics: and despite the dramatic shifts that might have occurred within the system of racial and ethnic beliefs in America, blacks and whites remain surprisingly isolated from each other. Here, the politics and culture of racism are closely intertwined: on the one hand, ethnic minorities tend to self-segregate and avoid close contacts with the representatives of the white race, but they are also pressured by the distorted political and cultural policies, including “arbitrary traffic stops by white police, restrictive home mortgage lending policies, differential imposition of the death penalty, and white taxpayers’ refusal to provide resources to overcome racial disadvantage” (Sears, Sidanius & Bobo 6). Generally, culture shapes the basis for producing judgment and perception (Wilson 28). Equality and freedom have always been the essential elements of the American culture, but neither of the two terms has succeeded to minimize the negativity of racism in America. First of all, both terms remain severely suppressed by racial perspectives; second, the notions of freedom and equality in the American culture are designed in ways that are explicitly tolerant to racism (Wilson 29). In labor, and in different workplace environments, where the notions of freedom and equality are used to promote positive social image of businesses, employers underpay workers of color to gain additional material profits. Kivel writes that “super exploitation is the wage differential between white workers and workers of color, multiplied by the number of workers in private enterprises” (197). In religion, Christianity is continuously associated with white race, and defending Christianity has already turned into defending whiteness from unbelievers and sinners (Kivel 219); in mass media, journalists tend to express the attitudes and opinions of the government officials, rather than black population, to remain within the political and cultural mass media mainstream.
I am confident that combating it will not be an easy task. I think that the combination of public policies and individual intervention will work to decrease the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes towards people of other races. We cannot embrace the benefits of multiculturalism unless we are able to eliminate racism. In their current state, legislation, affirmative action, and anti-racism policies cannot address the emerging challenges of racism. Institutional racism can be readily combated through the development of completely new public policies, based on negotiation and collaboration between different races. These public policies will also change the structure of individual beliefs and labor relationships between the white and the black races. According to Kivel, “the effects of racism will linger with us for a long time, even if we immediately institute massive changes to create a democratic multicultural nation” (231), but public policies are beneficial in a sense that they help address the racial complexities, and may cover the whole set of political, economic, cultural, and individual factors. In the light of the institutionalized character of racism in America, the American society does not have any other choice but to adhere to the principles of multiracial public collaboration, to ensure that the well-known concepts of democracy, welfare, freedom, and equality are not distorted to favor the expansion of racist attitudes as all levels of social and cultural interaction.
The phenomenon of racism in the American culture is too complex and requires multidimensional solutions. In the situation, where the state is reluctant to change the dominant racist beliefs and attitudes in politics, economics, culture, and social life, the development and implementation of effective public policies could help address the emerging racial challenges. It should be noted though, that these public responses should be grounded on the principles of ethnic and racial collaboration; and if that is the case, we will finally be able to combat the dominant racist prejudices in all spheres of social life in America.
Kivel, P. Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice. New Society
Sears, D.O., Sidanius, J. & Bobo, L. Racialized Politics: The Debate about Racism in
America. University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Wilson, C.A. Racism: From Slavery to Advanced Capitalism. SAGE, 1996.