Discrimination in the 21st Century for African Americans and Minorities

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Introduction

Many images have been, and are, associated with the USA. People inside and outside the country have varied, and often conflicting, views about it.1 Some of the perspectives are based on observable and quantifiable facts, while others may be conditioned by ideology and rhetoric.

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American self-images sometimes betray an exalted and isolationist view of the nation’s claimed ‘exceptionalism’ that is, a unique mission in the world, difference from other countries, idealistic values, high aspirations, and belief in its destiny, but historically and at the present, there have been divided opinions in the USA itself about the country’s ideals, values, institutions, political policies, sense of purpose and national identity. , today, American society remains split politically, economically, and socially to varying degrees, although there are also substantial unifying forces at work.2

Racial economic disparity in the United States of America centers on the gap in outcomes in labor markets and financial outcomes between African Americans and white Americans.3 African Americans constitute 12 percent of the American population and primarily are descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the USA until Emancipation in 1863.4 Racial inequality in the USA is understood as a problem of “minorities” in the USA, and this is by no means a universal case. In the USA context, the minority, that is, the African Americans hold center stage as the central group for whom the condition of racial disadvantage is rooted historically.

Economic Inequalities

Poverty

The largest economic gap between the African Americans in the USA involves the wealth differential whereby, the economist has tended to focus on labor market outcomes, particularly on income generated from employment and on occupational status, but the deepest gulf is in holding of property, such as real estate, including homeownership and of financial assets such as stocks and bonds.5 Considerable meaning and urgency are still attached to terms and conditions such as the oppressed and marginalized, the disadvantaged, academic achievement gaps, the digital divide, major disparities in housing and health care, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor in the United States.6

According to Brown7 overall, the poverty rate among African Americans was 27.7 percent for African Americans compared to 12.7 percent for whites. The older people above the age of 65 years, the poverty rate was also high among the African Americans at 31.3 percent, compared to 14.1 percent among the whites.8 Among the children, 36.7 percent of African Americans are poor compared to 16.2 percent of white Americans. In comparing the family poverty statistics, the data is still not encouraging for African Americans.

The overall poverty rate for all persons, 24.6 percent of African American families is having a high poverty rate compared to 9.5 percent of the white Americans. Among married couples, African Americans are poor at 7.0 percent, compared to 6.5 percent among the whites. Statistics on the female householder with children indicate that 49.9 percent of African Americans are poor, compared to 37.5 percent of the white Americans; the median income per family stands at, $23,816 for African Americans and $42, 597 for the whites.9

The poverty rate for the African American children in the rural South is 41 percent while for the white Americans, in the same category is 21 percent. The increasing poverty rates for rural African American children correspond to the rise in families headed solely by women in the region. Children do experience high rates of poverty as a reflection of their parent or parents’ diminished capacity to earn a living wage.10

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Unemployment

As it was over twenty years ago, double jeopardy remains a relevant term in the contemporary USA workplace. Unfortunately, racism, sexism, and discrimination persist in the workplace despite many laws banning such behavior.11 As of 2003, the unemployment rate among the races (men): for African Americans, the unemployment was 28.5 percent, while that for white Americans was 18.6 percent.

For the women, African Americans’ unemployment rate was 25.0 percent compared to the 18.2 percent for the white women.12The 2005 National Urban League (NUL) Equality Index, which measures equality gaps still separating African Americans and white Americans, assessed the ratio of the status of African Americans to whites to be 0.73. 13 This is to say, the overall status of African Americans in 2005 was only 73 percent of that of white Americans.14

A dramatic racial wealth gap exists whereby, one in every four African Americans families has no liquid financial assets. The African Americans’ employment in 2005 was held at 10.8 percent, which is 2.3 times higher than that of white Americans, whose employment decreased to 4.7 percent.

Healthcare

There are also, considerable race and ethnic-based disparities in health and health care, where the life expectancy for African Americans can expect to live for seventy-two years on average, while the white Americans can expect to live for seventy-eight years on average. 15 African Americans at every stage of life are twice as likely, on average, to die from accident, disease, behavior, and homicide. The spatial attributes of blacks, being urban and hyper-segregated in environmentally and socioeconomically stressed neighborhoods, exact a heavy toll on their health status, resulting in a stiff urban health penalty.16

The long-term impacts have been captured by the weathering hypothesis, which shows that, early and continued exposure of African Americans to systematic and structural disadvantages such as segregation, material hardship, psycho-social conditions of acute and chronic stress, overburdened or disrupted social supports and toxic environmental exposures often result in cumulative health outcomes. In examining the aggregate measures of mortality rate, it shows that the top three leading causes of death among African Americans are chronic health conditions, which include; heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular diseases.

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The diseases account for almost 60 percent of all deaths among African Americans, even though these three conditions are similar to those found among the white Americans, on further evaluation, using the age-adjusted, cause-specific statistics shows that far more African Americans die of these diseases than the whites. For example, the death rate from coronary heart disease among African Americans is 186.6 per 100, 000, as compared to 125.6 per 100, 000 for white Americans. The case for the rate of cancer is 10 percent higher, and the death rate is 35 percent higher among African Americans than the white Americans.

Indeed, African American men are more likely to contract and die from lung cancer than their white counterparts. Prostate cancer also remains a major health concern among African American men who are twice more likely to be diagnosed than white American men. In general, African Americans have a poor record of survival rate from cancer-related complications, which has been established to be around 44 percent compared to 60 for the whites.17

Social Inequalities

Hate groups

Hate groups in the USA have existed for a long time. Despite the government’s efforts to establish laws banning acts of hate, such groups still exist in the USA today. For example, the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (AWKKKK) have continuously directed hatred toward a multitude of persons on its site.18 AWKKKK made hateful comments about O.J. Simpson, Morris Dees, and other members of the SPLC and in particular, Martha Burk, who was responsible for spearheading protests against the Augusta National Golf Club for its policy of denying membership to women.

Most of the hatred by the group has been directed to groups of persons such as African Americans, Mexicans, Hispanics, Indians, Asians, and biracial persons, who the group derogatorily referred to as “mongrels”.19 The group harbors an extreme hatred to non-white Americans and hatred is expressed throughout on its Web site. For example, the group disparages the non-white Americans, referring to them as “muds” and all the non-whites the group mentioned online, it directed the majority of its racially based hatred against the African Americans. In addition to using all sorts of derogatory terms to refer to the African Americans, the group made several disparaging comments about the African race.20

Although penalty-enhancement statutes for hate crimes are on the books in 43 USA states (Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith-2001), the accounts from the legal scholars suggest that prosecution is rare and, when attempted, they often fail due to practical and legal difficulties.21 Complications always arise at every stage of the process, from the initial decision by the victim about whether to report a crime as bias-related, to the ultimate decision by a judge or jury about what penalty to impose.22

Prison system inequality

In the USA today, African American men are 10 times more likely to go to prison than white Americans, and 1 in 20, over the age of 18 is in jail.23 As it was revealed by the Amnesty International report of 2004, “African Americans defendants convicted of killing the whites have been sentenced to death 15 times more often than the white defendants convicted of killing the African Americans.”24 “Minorities are treated differently at a few points in the criminal justice system, although the studies are yet to prove this adequately, but racial disparities seem to have developed because procedures were adopted without systematic attempts to find out whether they might affect various races differently.”25

The author continues to say that, a study conducted by Walker, et al, their evidence noted that, the long-standing and explicit historical racism of American courts especially in Southern states, but they argue that, much has changed since then, nevertheless, despite these changes in court procedures, the situation today is one of the persistent inequalities; ‘racial minorities and particularly those suspected of crimes against whites, remain the victims of unequal justice.26

Rising incarceration has largely affected the poor people in the USA.27 Its greatest effects, however, have been concentrated in poor minority communities. Today, Latinos are almost twice as likely as the whites to be incarcerated while African Americans are about eight times compared to white Americans. By their early thirties, around 14 percent of white American men lacking high school diplomas can expect to spent time in prison while the rate for African Americans in this category is 59 percent.28

Education

When public schools are invoked these days, there is a good chance that the speakers are not talking about education at all.29. Public schools have simply become the default for sounding off on every grievance, wrong, injury, or prejudice afoot in the republic. Not that the injustices have no impact on the shape of the public education system, which is as uneven and unequal in its access to resources as any other institution in American society.

Indeed, a wholly privatized system of competition could barely have produced a more unequal result, given the vast disparities between the funding of predominantly white suburban schools and the inner-city schools largely populated by minorities. The federal system that allows each school district to levy taxes on homes and businesses to fund its schools has directly reinforced the high segregation that existed before.30.

African Americans low representation in government

Constituting, almost 12 percent of the population, the African Americans hold about 2 percent of all elected offices in the country.31 African American makes up about 7 percent of the Congress, which is the chief lawmaking institution in the USA. Today, one-third of African American is represented in Washington by African American officeholders.32

Conclusion

The USA as a country has made great steps in addressing the disparity and inequality among the various groups since the period of the Civil Rights movements. Many African Americans, somehow, currently have been able to enjoy the rights that earlier, were not entitled to. Despite these, achievements, African Americans and other minority groups have not escaped the new acts of discrimination in the 21st century, specifically in the economic, social, political, and justice spheres. The new rights fight now has to center on equality enhancement of all minority groups in the USA. That the African American citizens are going to find total pride in being citizens of the USA when equality in all spheres is addressed.

Bibliography

Barnett, Brett. Untangling the web of hate: are online “hate sites” deserving of First Amendment protection? NY, Cambria Press, 2007.

Blau, Judith R. The Blackwell companion of Sociology. MA, Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

Brown, David L, Swanson Louis E and Barton, Alan W. Challenges for rural America in the twenty-first century. PA, Penn States Press, 2003.

Frazier, John W and Tettey-Fio, Eugene. Race, ethnicity, and place in a changing America. Global Academic Publishing, 2006.

Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B, and Grant, Diana R. Crimes of hate: selected readings. CA, SAGE, 2004.

Karsten, Margaret F, Gender. Race and Ethnicity in the workplace, issues and challenges for today’s organizations. CT, Greenwood publishing group, 2006.

Katz, Bruce, Berube, Alan and Lang, Robert. Redefining urban and suburban America: evidence from Census 2000. Brookings Institution Press, 2006.

Lin, Ann C., and Harris, David R. The colors of poverty: why racial and ethnic disparities exist. NY, Russell Sage Foundation, 2008.

Tate, Katherine. Black Faces in the Mirror: African Americans and Their Representatives in the US Congress. NJ, Princeton University Press, 2004.

Mauk David and Oakland, John. American Civilization: an introduction. NY, Routledge, 2005.

Rattansi, Ali. Racism: a very short introduction. London, Oxford University Press, 2007.

Ross, Andrew. The celebration chronicles: life, liberty, and the pursuit of property value in Disney’s new town. NY, Verso, 2000.

Webster, Colin. Understanding race and crime. NY, McGraw-Hill International, 2007.

Footnotes

  1. Mauk David and Oakland, John. American Civilization: an introduction. NY, Routledge, 2005, p.2.
  2. Mauk David and Oakland, John. American Civilization: an introduction. NY, Routledge, 2005, p.2.
  3. Blau, Judith R. The Blackwell companion of Sociology. MA, Blackwell publishing, 2004, p. 178.
  4. Blau, Judith R. The Blackwell companion of Sociology. MA, Blackwell publishing, 2004, p. 178.
  5. Blau, Judith R. The Blackwell companion of Sociology. MA, Blackwell publishing, 2004, p. 178.
  6. Karsten, Margaret F, Gender. Race and Ethnicity in the workplace, issues and challenges for today’s organizations. CT, Greenwood publishing group, 2006, p.187.
  7. David Louis Brown, Louis E. Swanson, and Alan W. Barton, Challenges for rural America in the twenty-first century (PA, Penn States Press, 2003).
  8. Brown, David L, Swanson Louis E and Barton, Alan W. Challenges for rural America in the twenty-first century. PA, Penn States Press, 2003, p.39.
  9. Brown, David L, Swanson Louis E and Barton, Alan W. Challenges for rural America in the twenty-first century. PA, Penn States Press, 2003, p.39.
  10. Brown, David L, Swanson Louis E and Barton, Alan W. Challenges for rural America in the twenty-first century. PA, Penn States Press, 2003, p.39.
  11. Karsten, Margaret F, Gender. Race and Ethnicity in the workplace, issues and challenges for today’s organizations. CT, Greenwood publishing group, 2006, p.187.
  12. Katz, Bruce, Berube, Alan and Lang, Robert. Redefining urban and suburban America: evidence from Census 2000. Brookings Institution Press, 2006, p. 30.
  13. Karsten, Margaret F, Gender. Race and Ethnicity in the workplace, issues and challenges for today’s organizations. CT, Greenwood publishing group, 2006, p.187.
  14. Karsten, Margaret F, Gender. Race and Ethnicity in the workplace, issues and challenges for today’s organizations. CT, Greenwood publishing group, 2006, p.187.
  15. Karsten, Margaret F, Gender. Race and Ethnicity in the workplace, issues and challenges for today’s organizations. CT, Greenwood publishing group, 2006p.187.
  16. Frazier, John W and Tettey-Fio, Eugene. Race, ethnicity, and place in a changing America. Global Academic Publishing, 2006, p. 383.
  17. Frazier, John W and Tettey-Fio, Eugene. Race, ethnicity, and place in a changing America. Global Academic Publishing, 2006, p383.
  18. Barnett, Brett. Untangling the web of hate: are online “hate sites” deserving of First Amendment protection? NY, Cambria Press, 2007, p137.
  19. Barnett, Brett. Untangling the web of hate: are online “hate sites” deserving of First Amendment protection? NY, Cambria Press, 2007, p137.
  20. Barnett, Brett. Untangling the web of hate: are online “hate sites” deserving of First Amendment protection? NY, Cambria Press, 2007, p137.
  21. Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B, and Grant, Diana R. Crimes of hate: selected readings. CA, SAGE, 2004, p. 80.
  22. Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B, and Grant, Diana R. Crimes of hate: selected readings. CA, SAGE, 2004, p. 80.
  23. Rattansi, Ali. Racism: a very short introduction. London, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 11.
  24. Rattansi, Ali. Racism: a very short introduction. London, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 11.
  25. Webster, Colin. Understanding race and crime. NY, McGraw-Hill International, 2007, p. 118.
  26. Webster, Colin. Understanding race and crime. NY, McGraw-Hill International, 2007, p118.
  27. Lin, Ann C., and Harris, David R. The colors of poverty: why racial and ethnic disparities exist. NY, Russell Sage Foundation, 2008, p308.
  28. Lin, Ann C., and Harris, David R. The colors of poverty: why racial and ethnic disparities exist. NY, Russell Sage Foundation, 2008, ibid, p308.
  29. Ross, Andrew. The celebration chronicles: life, liberty, and the pursuit of property value in Disney’s new town. NY, Verso, 2000, p.138.
  30. Ross, Andrew. The celebration chronicles: life, liberty, and the pursuit of property value in Disney’s new town. NY, Verso, 2000, p138.
  31. Tate, Katherine. Black Faces in the Mirror: African Americans and Their Representatives in the US Congress. NJ, Princeton University Press, 2004, p. 4.
  32. Tate, Katherine. Black Faces in the Mirror: African Americans and Their Representatives in the US Congress. NJ, Princeton University Press, 2004, p. 4.

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