Racial Disparity can be seen as a practice whereby some people assert that they deserve more social power than another group based on their race or others asserting that they do not deserve the social power since it is unjust. Environmental and biological factors are what determines who we are thus racial disparities means asserting philosophical racism or dealing with institutional racism. The disparities are either within a group of people or imposed on them and also either just or unjust. A lack of economic opportunities for the black American for example has been detrimental to the black families. There has been legalized discrimination against the blacks by preventing them mostly through violence from owning property or not being granting loans. Institutional racism has more power whereby more often, white kids are put in better schools and hence better career tracks leading to higher life expectancy to match. (Frank, 2000, p. 48).
Though there has been exceptional access to employment and higher education by African Americans in the post civil war era, they have still remained at a marked educational, economic and social disadvantage as compared to the whites. Gender issues have also continued to be a principle factor in income levels with the medium earning of African American men being more than that of Black and non black women. Furthermore African Americans continue to be underrepresented in both government and employment. They also suffer from disproportionate job loss during times of economic hardships. Race has remained an important factor in shaping access to everything including jobs. Even if educated colored women secure a well paying job in such fields as law, they are later forced to leave their workplace due to hostile working environment and discrimination. A study conducted by the commission on women in the American Bar Association profession found out that African American women face systemic discrimination in that they leave private law firms at a higher rate than any other group. (Frank, 2002, p. 49).
A Detroit study conducted on African American women reported 82% of responded having faced day to day discrimination on a routine basis while 62% reporting moderate to high level mundane mistreatment based on race. Those included disrespectful behaviors, verbal insults and poor services from their white American counterparts. This form of discrimination result to serious health problems which are related to health disparities between the whites and the blacks. Many academic institutions also consider race and class backgrounds of applications in order to implement affirmative action and the same applies to employment and public contracts. Class does not insulate black Americans from racial discrimination such that someone like Oprah Winfrey who is the richest black person in the world is subject to it. They are subject to racial prejudices, profiling and stereotyping. In fire and police department for example poor whites do not face racial discrimination while minorities and women are not allowed access to the jobs, as a result of racial and gender discrimination. (Frank, 2002, p. 29).
Darity and Myers conducted a study on incomes of families and family heads that revealed that there was a rising rate of female headship. The percentage of families headed by black women went up from 28% to 46% between the year 1970 and 1991 while those headed by whites rose from 9 percent to 13 percent. This shows that racial discrimination in the jobs has played an important role in generating differences in family structure based on race. Recent policy initiatives and conditions in the labor market have been perhaps not much progressive for employment of black women and their earnings. Through the 1980 and the 1990s there was a considerable widened racial wage gap between white and black women. (Frank, 2002, p. 30).
Forms of gender problems faced by black women can be seen in the military services whereby men and women are treated unequally. Women are restricted from performing some combat roles in the military. This stems from the notion that women are the weaker sex, and their association with domestic roles which have no legal, validity. Limiting the role for the woman in the military is a violation of their rights of being full and equal U.S citizens with all the obligations and duties and privileges it carries with it. Women also suffer from pay disparities in that they are mostly engaged in part time work which has less pay than full time employment. Also, since women attain motherhood at a certain time, an increased percentage of their life is spent outside their work due to the fact that they are the main nurturers of their children thus they have to decide on the nature of their job of which the preferred pay less. (Karen, 1997, p. 47).
The organizational structure background has attributed to gender bias and pay inequalities which in turn are maintained by pressure groups. Traditionally, women and the minorities are employed in lower status jobs and are not allowed into the networks. The jobs then limit their access of being powerful employees. Informal networks are personal as well as voluntary and create their own boundaries. The organizations are also geared to white men and this has been a hard trend to break. For an organization to accomplish its goals, managers need to work together with other employees and this can be accomplished easily when working with people whom you share common background and are like them. This means that white men work and network with their fellow white men. It is therefore even harder to recognize that there are inequalities in the organization since things are always done that way. (Karen, 1997, p. 47).
It has also been suggested that institutional and attitudinal processes have contributed to gender disparities. This is to say, white men do not want minorities and women being in equal positions and having equal pay thus they quite often take steps to protect specific jobs from women. Even when this group is hired, they do not enjoy equal advantages with men. Quite often the minority are just hired in order for the company to meet requirements and not due to their qualifications. Unequal employment opportunities are often perpetuated by the relationship between social roles and interests, organizational culture norms and values and inter-group relationships. (Karen, 1997, p. 48).
Socialization process makes individuals to corporate stereotypes and misperceptions whereby, they make judgment regarding themselves based on the way they think others judge them. Women tend to feel invisible and isolated within their work places whereas men view them as emotional. This is because more often women feel left out in terms of power within the organization due to being segregated into certain agencies just because they are women. Social structures within the society have defined the jobs that are appropriate for males and females and thus segregation affects the promotion and pay opportunities. African American females are more likely to get employed in the public sector work where the female segregation is high. Just a few of them can make to have management positions but others are employed as educational counselors, school, teachers or social workers which are all relatively low paying jobs( Karen, 1997, p.48).
In a study on job and labor queues to educate readers on changing composition of jobs and how it related to African American women changing occupation profile, it was found out that when women shifted to male positions, the job changed its status and the pay also decreased. The jobs held by many females are considered lower skilled and unimportant to male jobs. A male and female can have the same qualifications but still the male gets a better salary. Men also believe that it is easier to work with men and also that they deserve better pay ( Karen, 1997, p.48).
Black feminist grew out of the black liberation movements and the women’s movement in a bid to meet the needs of black women who did not feel well represented in the women’s movements since they were racially discriminated and also sexually oppressed in the black movement. Often black women who had participated in feminist movements in the 1960s faced racism; they were not invited to participate in conferences which were also not specifically about black women (Patricia, 2000, p. 227).
They were also underrepresented in the faculty of women studies departments and no classes were availed to study the history of black women. White women could also not admit that they were racist.black women were and still are oppressed by white men. Black feminist fights against systematic and institutionalized oppression but not against a certain group of people. (Patricia, 2000, p.227).
The Specific issues dealt with in the black feminist movement include reproduction rights, health care, child care, sexual harassment and labor organizing among others. There is great disparity between African American women and men since they do not have the same level playing ground and until the playing field is balanced, the gap will only grow wider. Black women do not just deal with racial discrimination at their work places but also issues of gender, sex and economic exploitation. (Patricia, 2000. p.228).
Frank H. (2002) yellow: race in America beyond black and white: Basic Books. U S. ISBN 0465006396.
Karen M. (1997) the employment context: Taylor &Francis. ISBN 0815325117.
Patricia H. (2000) black feminism thought: knowledge, consciousness and politics, Rout ledge. ISBN 041592484.