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A paper on Racial and ethnic Inequality

Published under category: Writing Help Convenience | 2015-05-20 23:30:39 UTC

Context: Race and ethnicity in the United States

Online writing help services have completed papers on racial issues in the united states. You can have you custom essay on race and ethnicity written by this reliable online writing service. Introduction Racial and ethnic inequality has been in existence since the advent of the United States of America. The American people are viewed in terms of their physical characteristics, with the most dominant characteristic of discrimination being the color of skin. People of America are grouped into whites and people of color. The people of color consist of the Hispanics, Black Americans and other people of color. The people of color are seen as inferior to the white people, and this is manifested in a wide range of societal issues that include wealth, housing patterns, poverty rates, opportunities and economic resources. Racial groups are set apart from each other by physical differences, whereas ethnic groups are set apart due to national origin or distinctive cultural patterns (Schaefer, 2012). Racial inequality has an effect on the life chances of individuals as race is used to determine opportunities and outcomes. There are a number of patterns and perspectives that account for the continuation of racial and ethnic discrimination and inequality. It is, therefore, important that one better understand racial and ethnic inequality and the reasons for its existence. What is racial and ethnic inequality? The social dimensions of race and ethnicity play an important part in shaping the lives of people in the United States. Race is a social dimension that refers to a group of people who share particular inherited physical characteristics, which comprise facial features, skin color and stature (Schaefer, 2012). Race is more of a biological category than a social category. Since the advent of colonization, by European nations, in countries filled by people of color, individuals have been categorized as belonging to a particular race based on specific biological features that they possess. People in both the United States and other nations differ in a clear way in terms of their physical characteristics. The key noticeable difference in the individuals is the skin tone. There are some categories of people who possess very dark skin, while others have light skin. There are other notable differences that exist. There are people who possess curly hair, while others have compact and straight hair. The difference is also evident in lips, where some people have thick lips, while others have thin lips. Another common feature is the height; there are people who are relatively short, while others are tall. Based on such characteristics, Smedley (2007), notes that the scientists were able to identify nine races namely, American Indian or Native American, African, Asian, European (commonly referred to as “white”), Australian Aborigine, Indian, Micronesian, Melanesian and Polynesian. Race as a biological construction has, however, been faulted due to the differences that exist even in the European themselves. Sociologist, anthropologists and biologists have also questioned the values of such categories (Smedley, 2007). There exist physical differences within races and between races. There are some “whites” who have darker skins than most Africans or African Americans. Besides, there are Europeans who have lighter skin than other Europeans. The differences have become increasingly blurred in the modern world due to interracial marriages. In America, a person who is born of a white parent and a black parent is referred to as African American or black. However, there is no reasoning in doing so since the person is as much black as white based on parental ancestry. This implies that any person in America who has black blood is seen as black regardless of their physical color. According to Staples (2005), this mode of categorization was in use in the antebellum south, during the slavery period, in order to keep the slave population as high as possible. Racial discrimination is, therefore, today considered a social construction by sociologists. It is an objective reality because that is the way people have decided it should be. Race construction is based on the mental construction of people. Despite being a social construction, race has real consequences in people’s lives because most people perceive the existence of race as real. People living in America are treated differently based on their races though, modern evidence from scientific analysis reveal that no much difference, if any, exist to warrant treatment of people on the basis of racial classification. Ethnicity, on the hand, is used to classify people based on their shared cultural, social and historical experiences (Nazroo, 2003). The categorization of ethnicity arises out of common regional or national backgrounds that comprise the subgroup of population different from each other. The categorization of ethnicity gives individuals a unique social identity. It is also a social construction that gains its importance because the society chooses to view it that way. Ethnic membership has important consequences for how people are treated. Race and ethnicity do go hand-in-hand in some instances. America is, therefore, considered to consist of hundreds of ethnicities. Racial and ethnic identity is continually becoming diluted due to a rise in inter-racial relationships and child-bearing. Is racial inequality a problem in the United States? Racial classification is still a very important social aspect to the people of America. It is a problem that does not only exist among individuals, but also the government. The U.S. federal government has admitted to the absence of a scientific basis for racial categories, but still continues to form distinctions among people (Nazroo, 2003). The importance of race in individual identity, legal code, group affiliation, economics and all areas of social life in America is clear. There are questions regarding terms like black, white, Hispanic and Asian are not reflected in biological differences but are social constructs, since they are deeply embedded in the institutional structures and the everyday interaction amongst individuals. Many American people viewed the election of the first American black President, Barrack Obama, as the death of racism and racial inequality. However, from a sociological point of view, the problem of race remains the Achilles’ heel to the people of America. In order to measure equality, sociologists rely on two types of measures, equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Equal opportunity implies that each individual has a similar opportunity to succeed as any other American regardless of race or ethnicity. Equal outcome, on the other hand, refers to the equality of results that includes employment status, educational level, income and assets (Charles & Jennifer, 2003). Equal outcome is significant since it is assumed that if individuals are exposed to similar opportunities to succeed in the society, one group of people will put much effort and become successful, another group will experience average success, while there is a group that may not succeed totally. If all things are kept equal, similar proportions of every group will be able to succeed. Considering the United States, it would appear that it grants every individual equality and opportunity. This is based on the laws that exist in the U.S. constitution. The law outlawing discrimination was passed in the 1950’s. It prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, as well as national origin, gender, age, religion and disability status. These laws guarantee the people of America their civil rights. Each person does not start on an equal footing due to historical inequities. Individuals who are considered “people of color,” as well as immigrants, women and poor people do not start on the same level with other people. They do not have the necessary ingredients for success, which include family wealth and assets, right connections that aid in getting into college and get a job, financial support from family members, and the knowledge to successfully go through advanced education and the job market. On the contrary, the whites in most cases have this support based on their past hence the racial playing field continues to be skewed even today. The whites have the advantage that continues to be passed from one generation to another; hence the equality does not in reality exist. The law of the United States makes the American people, though it does not provide a level playing field. The gap created by racial inequality still exists today in America. CNN reported in 2012 that most of the American population believed that the American people are divided on the basis of race (Cafferty, 2012). A poll conducted by both Newsweek and Daily Beast showed that 89 percent of blacks and 72 percent of whites believed that the country is racially divided (Cafferty, 2012). This implies that the election of a black president has not had an effect on the perception of people about race. In fact, most blacks and whites observe that the race relations between the American people has either stayed the same or become worse (Cafferty, 2012). The black feel that they have not fully achieved racial equality, while the whites feel that the chances of the black people to get same jobs, same housing, same health opportunities and same education have improved. American’s feel that although America is widely regarded by other nations as a country of immigrants, not every immigrant in the American soil has been granted equal opportunity. Key among the American concerns is the racial inequality in occupation and economic attainment. Majority of the Americans feel that apart from the government creating equal opportunity for everyone to compete for the wealth of the nation, the distribution of the resources also needs to be based on an open and fair process that is influenced by personal merit and achievement. There are some groups of Americans, who despite working hard, are paid less compared to other groups. The Americans also feel that the government should strive to ease the rigidity of stratification. Currently, the economic well-being is not determined by effort and competition among equal factors, but by ascribed characteristics that include family background and race. Unequal playing field has resulted in the Hispanics, African Americans and the Native Americans to fair much worse than the whites in terms of family incomes, levels of poverty and education. According to Pew Research Center, the wealth gap between the Asian Americans and the whites, and the African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans is continuing to worsen every day (Drake, 2013). The situation is worsened by the faltering U.S. economy that has made it worse for the blacks than the whites. Differences as a result of the race are also being experienced in health and education sector. Conclusion The problem of racial and ethnic inequality among the American people is still a stark reality despite the efforts by the government to level the playing field for fair competition in the acquisition of resources. Racial and ethnic discrimination are experienced at both individual and institutional levels. Americans are incapable of getting equal employment, health and education opportunities. References Cafferty, J. (2012, April 9). “How Racially Divided is the United States.” CNN. Retrieved from Charles, H. & Jennifer, L. (2005). “Race and Ethnic Inequality in Educational Attainment in the United States.” In Michael Rutter and Marta Tienda, eds. Ethnicity and Causal Mechanisms, pp 107-138. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Drake, B. (2013). “Americans See Growing Gap between Rich and Poor.” Pew Research Center. Nazroo, J. Y. (2003). “The Structuring of Ethnic Inequalities in Health: Economic Position, Racial Discrimination, and Racism.” American Journal of Public Health, 93 (2): 277-284. Schaefer, R. T. (2012). Sociology: A Brief Introduction (2 ed.). New York: McGraw Hill. Smedley, A. (2007). Race in North America: Evolution of a worldview. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Staples, B. (2005, October 31). “Why race isn’t as “black” and “white” as we think.” New York Times, p. A18. ORDER PLAGIARISM FREE PAPER


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