Discrimination Against African Americans in the US

Racial discrimination remains one of the trending topics since the United States of America gained independence. According to Alexander, the caste system was common in various societies around the world (36). In the United States, this system was legitimized by slave trade slavery. Slave owners were at the top of the caste, while slaves were at the bottom end. Most of the slaves in the United States were African Americans who were forcefully sold and transported to the country to world in the fields at homes. When the United States of America gained independence in 1776, all the people living in the country, including the slaves, were promised freedom. They were promised that they will live in a country where they will be free from any bondage of any kind.

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However, this freedom only came to a section of the society. The majority Whites were the only population that gained independence in this country. African Americans were denied so many rights in a country that had promised all its citizens freedom. They were not allowed to vote because the Whites still considered them second class citizens who could not share benefits that were enjoyed by the first class citizens. According to Alexander, Entwisle, and Olson, the Whites and African Americans were not allowed to share social amenities within this society (51). Schools, hospitals, and entertainment sports for the Whites were never to be used by African Americans. In fact, there were roads that African Americans were not expected to use because they were meant exclusively for the Whites. These discriminatory policies were enforceable because they were supported by the law.

Human rights activists fought tirelessly against all forms of discriminations against the minorities, especially the African Americans. People like Martin Luther King Junior lost their lives fighting for the freedom and rights of the minority Blacks in the United States. They managed to bring some form of change, although it was evident that this was not an easy process. Change was coming into the American society, but it was happening at a very low speed. After many years of struggle, the African Americans were finally allowed to take part in voting. At first, they had to choose a White to represent them in parliament because they were not eligible to be elected into either the senate of congress. It was after a long struggle that African Americans were allowed to compete for elective positions in the country. In the twentieth century, major changes have been experienced in the American society where both Whites and African Americans are given fair chance to compete in the political arena, even if the Whites seem to be having an advantage over the African Americans.

In the twenty-first century, the United States has seen genuine change towards a society where people are changed not by their color or skin but their capacity and content of their character (Tirado 74). The election of the first African American president into office was seen by many as a major step towards having an integrated society where socio-cultural and economic backgrounds are not considered important factors that defines an American. For the first time in the history of the country, the African Americans felt that they indeed belonged to this society, and that change that they have been waiting for over the past three centuries had come at last. The country was having an African American chief executive officer for the first time in its history.

According to Malhotra, in the twenty-first century, the American society has indeed seen major changes towards having a society that is free from all forms of discrimination (41). However, it will be misleading to say that African Americans are not subjected to any form of discrimination in their lives. A research by Bonilla shows discrimination is still an issue in the American society even if its magnitude has reduced compared to what was the case in the past (78). One area where discrimination has been common is in the Institutions of learning. Race relation is not a big issue for young children who are just joining college. At this tender age, children do not get bothered by the fact that they have different skin color or that they belong to different social background. They spend most of their times playing together and helping one another in various tasks. Although they may question the difference in skin color, they do not take such issues to draw a line that separates one group from another. However, this trend tends to change as these children grow up. Based on what they get to learn within the society, these children get to learn that racial differences have greater significance beyond the difference in the skin color. By the time these learners get to the university, they have drawn into their racial cocoons that restrict them from freely mingling with members of the other races. The Whites learn that in this society, they are superior to other races.

Racial discrimination in institutions of learning is also witnessed when it comes to admission of students into colleges. A research by Mwene found out that most of the Ivy Colleges in the United States are very selective when admitting students (113). The Whites are always given priority at these colleges ahead of everyone else. The African Americans are always the worst affected group in such settings. Most of them who qualify based on their academic performance fail to get admissions to their colleges of choice because priority is always given to the Whites. It forces them to go to other alternative colleges which they did not prefer. Once in college, the racial relation is always strained. There is a major problem of stereotyping that always hurt learners in different ways.

For instance, there is a wrong notion that African Americans are always criminal minded and violent. All African Americans, including those who are very humble, respectful, and law abiding, are subjected to such demeaning stereotype in these colleges. They find themselves shunned by other students because of such stereotypes. Bonilla says that in some of the colleges in the United States, Whites are offered perfect opportunities to explore their talents in co-curricular activities that may help them transform their lives completely (61). However, the African Americans do not enjoy such benefits. Such inequalities tend to worsen the already strained relationship between the majority and the minority. It explains why cases of violence pitting one group of students against the other have become common in this country.

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Discrimination is also common in the workplace environment within the United States. Although this is not as common as it used to be in the past, Ramsey says that some employers are still discriminative when it comes to hiring employees (15). The scholar notes that a White is more likely to be hired than an African American with the same qualifications within this country. When it comes to negotiating salaries, African Americans are always more likely to be given a lower offer than a White who is hired to do the same job. In the modern society, cases of discrimination in the workplace have reduced significantly, but there are still cases where people use derogatory remarks such as Negro to refer to the African Americans in a negative way.

This is common in cases where there are arguments or in instances where a superior officer feels that an African American employee has not delivered to the expectations. A research by Ramsey also shows that African Americans are less likely to get promoted than a White (27). The scholar complained that for an African American to get a promotion, he or she will have to work twice as hard as a White. This is so because employers trust Whites to handle sensitive managerial positions than they do African Americans. This has been frustrating to most of these minority groups who feel that they are unfairly judged based on their skin color. Some firms have also been seen to be discriminatory when it comes to sending employees overseas when expanding. An African American is more likely to be sent to Asian and African countries where the Whites would not prefer to go. These practices are still common in a country that is struggling to come out of the chains of discrimination that has crippled it for several centuries since it gained independence.

In the healthcare sector, some form of discrimination exists that should be addressed. A survey by Richards and Brien found out that most of the public hospitals that are understaffed and underequipped are always frequented by African Americans (92). Such poorly facilitated hospitals are common in communities where Blacks are the dominant populations. There is a marked difference, in terms of staffing and equipping, between public hospitals in White-dominated areas as compared to Black-dominated communities. This is specifically so because most of them do not have private health insurance plans that can allow them to get medical services at some of the best healthcare facilities in the country. The cost of quality health has been skyrocketing over the recent past. Some of the top hospitals such as Mayo Clinic and John Hopkins Hospitals have become a preserve for the rich. American citizens who cannot afford to pay for expensive private health insurance plans cannot be served at such institutions. The majority of those who are affected are African Americans who are not as endowed financially as the Whites.

The society in general has also tolerated discrimination against the minorities, especially the African Americans, at a time when people are expected to appreciate the diversity. According to Comissiong, discrimination is a vice that the American society has deliberately held on to despite the effort that has been put in place by some of the prominent people who died fighting for a society that is more integrated (87). Children below six years always exhibit a character that should be desired by all Americans. At this tender age, these children know very little about the issue of race.

They know that their skin color may be different, but that does not stop them from playing together. The difference in skin color means very little to them when they form football teams at school or within the community. They find fun and they have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that African Americans and Whites can integrate easily for their mutual benefits. However, the society has deliberately failed to learn from these children. Instead, they get to intoxicate their minds as they grow up. These innocent children get to learn that they are different from others based on their skin color. By the time they get to colleges, their minds are already intoxicated and they find it difficult relating freely with people from the other race, including their childhood friends.

According to Coates, it is the responsibility of all Americans to fight discrimination because it is a vice that brings no benefit to members of the American society (45). The Whites and people of color in this country must unite and appreciate the fact that our diversity is a source of strength instead of considering it a factor that divides us. We need to identify dividing forces such as negative politics and find a way of dealing with them in order to have a society that is more accommodating to every American. The society is stronger when it is united. At a time when radicalization and terrorism is becoming increasingly popular in the Western countries, our communities should show love to everyone, especially those who feel discriminated against. They should not be given enough reason to join these terror groups who are interested in destroying the United States. They should feel that they are citizens of this country who can enjoy all the rights that the country has to offer.

Interview

The researcher was interested in gathering primary data from a sample population who have in one way or the other experienced racial discrimination within this country. The researcher identified twenty African American adults to determine the kind is discrimination they have always gone through in their lives. Below is a sample interview with one of the participants.

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Have you ever experienced racial discrimination at learning institutions?

Yes. I was denied admission into Harvard University although I had the qualifications that was needed to join the college.

Have you ever experienced racial discrimination at your place of work?

Yes. My boss always uses derogatory terms related to my race when he is annoyed.

How has racial discrimination affected you either at school or at the workplace?

Racial discrimination denied me a lifetime opportunity to join a college that I had admired so much even after putting a lot of effort to succeed in my exams.

Do you believe that racial discrimination in the United States is reducing?

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Some changes have been witnessed, especially when an African American was elected to the highest position of leadership in this country.

What are some of the factors that are still promoting racial discrimination in our society?

Issues such as politics always raise racial animosity within the country.

How do you think this problem can be dealt with in the country?

To fight racial discrimination, we need to view the diversity in our country as strength other than a factor that divides us.

Annotated Bibliography

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: John Wiley& Sons Publishers, 2015. Print.

Racial relations in the American society has improved over the last five decades as people come to appreciate the fact that we have more to gain when we consider ourselves one united family. It is true that there are still cases of discrimination against some of the minority members of this community, especially the African Americans. However, this cannot be compared to what was the case in the past. The society is becoming more tolerant, and that is why for the first time in the country’s history, we have an African American as the head of state, something that many people thought was not possible in this century.

Comissiong, David. It’s the Healing of the Nation: The Case for Reparations in an Era of Recession and Re-Colonization. London: McMillan, 2013. Print.

The American society has made impressive steps into becoming a more tolerant society to people of different races as compared to what was the case in the past. However, many schools are yet to fully come out of the chains of discriminations. Some of the top colleges in the country such as Harvard have been accused of being discriminative when it comes to admission of students. An African American has lower chances of joining such coveted colleges compared to a White with similar academic qualifications. This is not expected to be the case in a society that is struggling to promote integrity at all stages of life.

Ramsey, Patricia. Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World: Multicultural Education for Young Children. Hoboken: Wiley, 2015. Print.

The American community stands to benefit from a more united society that is tolerant to the racial diversity in the country. The world is now fighting terrorism that has taken a new shape. Terrorism has changed from the approach used by Al Qaeda during the reigns of Osama bin Laden to the current society where ISIL is radicalizing youths around the world to attack their countries. Fighting the modern day terrorism requires the American society to embrace one another and make a concerted effort to ensure that our youths are not radicalized. They should not be given any reason to make them feel unappreciated because that can be a good reason to drive them into the radical groups.

Bonilla, Eduardo. Racism Without Racists: Color-blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. Print.

Fighting racial discrimination will require a change of perception and the stereotypes that have existed in this community over the past several years. Every American should be given a fair treatment based on their character and their capacity at every stage of their lives. Having an integrated society in the United States will require members of the society to make an effort to empower those who have been subjected to socio-economic injustices for several decades since the country gained its independence. Whites, African Americans, and all other minority groups across the country should be given equal opportunities to prosper in the country. There should be true equity for all Americans of all races.

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press, 2010. Print.

The American society should identify factors that may promote racial discrimination in the country and find a way of dealing with them in the most appropriate way possible. For instance, politics should not breed hatred among the Americans in any way. Politicians should be encouraged to avoid derogatory remarks that may make one society feel unappreciated. The political leaders should work towards uniting our society in the best way possible. The aim of every leader should be to bring together members of the American society as we try to achieve a common goal for all the citizens.

Works Cited

Alexander, Karl, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson. The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2014. Print.

Malhotra, Rajiv. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. New Delhi: HarperCollins Publishers India, 2011. Print.

Mwene, Mushanga. Slavery and Colonialism: Man’s Inhumanity to Man for Which Africans Must Demand Reparations. Nairobi: McMillan, 2011. Print.

Richards, Richard, and Brandon Brien. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2012. Print.

Tirado, Linda. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America. New York: Berkley Books, 2015. Print.

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