The modern social relations in the United States are the results of the complex and prolonged social policy oriented to forming two opposite camps: the privileged white people and discriminated black people. The problem is in the fact that although slavery was abolished 150 years ago, the social oppression and racism are still features of the modern American society. The reason is that the slavery abolishment did not lead to the immediate improvement of race relations, and there were years of segregation and Jim Crow laws (Ravindranath et al. 23; Wright par. 10). The result of such social policies was the adaptation of African Americans to new social rules.
In his essay “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”, Richard Wright notes that during the years of Jim Crow laws, he “learned to play that dual role which every Negro must play if he wants to eat and live” (par. 9); therefore, those laws taught the Americans how to adapt to new situations, but not how to live together peacefully. In spite of the fact that racism and discrimination are prohibited in the United States at different levels, the situation in the American society is controversial even today because the African Americans remain to be representatives of the low-income social groups; there are prejudices regarding the African Americans’ abilities; and the public conflicts between white and black people are frequent.
The first problem that needs to be discussed in detail is the social and income status of the African Americans that influence their image in the United States and the nature of the intercultural relations during decades. In spite of the Civil Rights Movements and the Affirmative Action initiatives, the problem of the African Americans’ employment and income is still acute. The percentage of high-income white people is significantly higher than the percentage of black people (Nopper 653).
According to Monnat, “as members of the dominant race, White share developed social representations to explain and justify the racial order, and this ideology fits the new racism” (641). Although the United States is headed by the African American, there are no factual reasons to state that the situation has changed positively for the black population of the country, and the ‘new’ racism is observed (Nopper 652). The social and economic inequality is high, and it is early to speak about adequate positive changes in the tendency (Monnat 642). The rare accentuated positive examples of successful and high-income African Americans only indicate that the problem exists, and nothing is altered.
The problem is also in the developed prejudice against the African Americans that is observed in the workplace and institutions. Despite the progress of the ideals of the Affirmative Action, African Americans are still discussed as less educated, less skilled, and less talented in comparison to the other nations in the American society. Such comparisons create the problematic situation of the constant social opposition between races that is observed in schools, colleges, and workplaces. In higher educational institutions, the African Americas are still regarded as students having the least potential, but demonstrating the most improper behavior (Ravindranath et al. 24).
As a result, the level of the prejudice increases. In this context, it is important to refer to the words by Zora Neale Hurston, who notes in her essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”: “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me” (16). Thus, more than sixty percent of employers decide to hire the minorities only because of the necessity to follow the Affirmative Action program, but they note that the level of the African Americans’ skills is often not high (Nopper 653). In this context, African Americans have to choose the psychological protection mechanisms in order to cope with the situation of discrimination in the society.
However, the discrimination in the United States can be not only hidden but also obvious, and it can result in dramatic social conflicts that demonstrate the depth of the misunderstanding between the white and black population in the country. The situation in Ferguson indicated that the prolonged conflict between races is not resolved. Ravindranath et al. note that “in places like Ferguson, racism is an institutionalized form of oppression that strategically targets racial minorities denying the groups access to the privileges and resources of the majority” (23). The problem is in the fact that the black people cannot bear the oppression anymore, and their goal is to overcome educational and employment gaps, as well as the situation of the social injustice and inequality.
In this context, it is important to pay attention to the opinion of the African American person regarding the social situation in the United States and the problem of discrimination. To protect the confidentiality of a 27-year-old male African American, the name of the interviewee on the problem of race relations and discrimination in the US society was changed. John Smith was asked his opinion regarding the recent changes in the American society in relation to the problem of racism associated with Barack Obama’s Presidency, his personal experiences as a black male, and his professional life.
Focusing on the situation of having an African American President, John stated that he observed the real changes in the public’s attitudes only during the first period of Presidency. However, he faced difficulties while distinguishing real changes in the white people’s attitudes and their attempts to address the new social situation. Today, the problem of racism became even more obvious, and John refers to the example of Ferguson as the social phenomenon that changed his view of the problem.
John was brought up in the middle-income family and lived in the mainly white community. John experienced prejudice during his childhood, and the situation did not change when he entered the predominantly white university. John was bullied and ignored by the peers. Moreover, John became the victim of numerous cases of racial profiling because of his skin color. The most dramatic situation occurred when police officers tried to arrest John and his black friend in the street. The police officers were inspecting the streets because of the case of raping, and they followed the general witnesses’ testimony.
This situation of the racial profiling and prejudice can be compared with the situation described by Brent Staples in his essay “Black Men and Public Space”. In this essay, Staples depicted the public stereotypes associated with perceiving all young black men as rapists (Staples 195).
John agrees that the level of prejudice against the black people in the US society is high, and he associates it with the practice of bullying people due to their differences that is rooted in the childhood and relations of children whose opinions and visions are promoted by their parents and educators. John also states that it was a problematic task for him to find the appropriate job according to his educational degree and skills. The problem was in the prejudiced attitudes of the colleagues because he was hired according to the Affirmative Action program. John notes that for him, the Affirmative Action program became one more mark to accentuate that he is different.
From this point, it is possible to state that the problem of racism is not overcome or resolved in the American society, and the echo of the years of slavery and the people’s discrimination resulted in the prejudice that is often hidden. When people cannot conceal their emotions and feelings anymore, their hidden conflict became obvious, as it was in Ferguson. In spite of proclamations that the United States provides the equal opportunities for all people, the real situation is different. In this context, the US needs more effective policies to address the problem of racism in the society without complicating the relations between different ethnicities.
Hurston, Zora Neale. How It Feels to Be Colored Me. 2015. Web.
In her essay, Hurston discusses the problematic issue of the racial and cultural identity and describes how her identity of a black woman influenced her vision of herself. The essay is important to discuss the problem of racism from the perspective of an individual.
Monnat, Shannon. “Toward a Critical Understanding of Gendered Color-Blind Racism within the U.S. Welfare Institution.” Journal of Black Studies 40.4 (2010): 637-652. Print.
In her article, Monnat explores the problem of the color-blind racism from the gender perspective. The author discusses the black female’s role in the US society, and this discussion is important to examine the issue of racism not only as the institutional phenomenon.
Nopper, Tamara. “Minority, Black, and Non-Black People of Color: ‘New’ Color-Blind Racism and the US Small Business Administration’s Approach to Minority Business Lending in the Post-Civil Rights Era.” Critical Sociology 37.5 (2011): 651-662. Print.
Nopper explores the development of the racial minorities’ businesses in the USA, and her discussion is effective to understand how racism influenced the distribution of roles in the US society among different races. The article is also important to discuss the economic factors of the racial discrimination.
Ravindranath, Divya, Maxine Davis, Beth Prusaczyk, and Whitney Sewell. “Race in Contemporary America: Protest, Police and Media in Ferguson.” Economic and Political Weekly 49.44 (2014): 22-24. Print.
The authors of the article focus on the problem of racism discussing the real example of conflicts in Ferguson. The conclusions made by the authors are important to view the racial opposition from the new perspective.
Staples, Brent. Black Men and Public Space. 2010. Web.
The essay discusses the problem of the racial profiling with the focus on personal experiences of the author. The discussion is significant to conclude about the degree of the social prejudice and observed racism in the US society.
Wright, Richard. The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch. 2015. Web.
In the essay, Wright describes what he personally learned from Jim Crow laws. The discussion is rather unexpected, and it demonstrates how the segregation and opposition of the majority and minority in the US society were cultivated over the years.