Some say that this is an egalitarian society. Nothing is further from the truth because in reality there is a “system of continuing inequalities” and this can be seen when it comes to race, gender, and sexual orientation. Those who believe that equality is the norm in this country, they point to the recent election of the first African American president of the United States of America. It was an impossible feat because African Americans are part of the minority. Thus, the victory of President Barack Obama should be considered as a good starting point in the discussion on how Americans can create a just and equitable society.
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Inequality a Way of Life
It is just unfortunate that members of minority groups can say that inequality is a way of life for them. Surely, there are many citizens of this country that can testify to a good and blessed life but this is not the case for all. Racism is still prevalent in many areas although American society has learned to mitigate its impact and to find ways to make it appear less obvious. Slavery is a thing of the past but there are still many African Americans who could break the cycle of poverty and crime. There are no more riots as more and more people frown upon overt acts of racism but there are many poor African American children who do not have access to the same resources as white kids.
There was much hype generated by the media and previous administrations that great improvements were made since Martin Luther King offered his life for the Civil Rights movement. But all of these were stripped of their false façade when mighty Katrina blew over New Orleans. In the aftermath of the calamity there were many African Americans who were left behind and many of them suffered great emotional pain. In stark contrast are the white residents who had the resources to relocate to safer havens. This alone is a major question mark on the assertions made by politicians that all is well in the land of the brave and free. Political and social scientists must not be easily swayed by eloquent speeches, there is still much that has to be done when it comes to equality in America.
It is not only the African Americans who are prone to racism and suffer from the negative impact of inequality. It is a well-known fact that America is a melting pot and in the past decades inward migration allowed many people from diverse ethnic backgrounds to live and settle in the United States. There are those who vehemently oppose their presence and their desire to become American citizens. Even those who have been here for many years and are proven contributors to nation-building can sometimes feel that they are not welcome. There are also many ethnic groups in this country that easily fall victims to stereotypes or racial profiling. For instance there are Americans who had a negative view of Jews and Muslims.
Those who are direct descendants of the first wave of Europeans who migrated to this country have created a system of beliefs and traditions that permeate every fiber of society – the dominant group would like to maintain the status quo. Their values are so precious to them that they could not think of anything else that can replace it. This is the reason why they are uncomfortable with the emergence of another group whose belief system is very much different from theirs. There is a need for them to change the way they look at America and the world in general.
Aside from race there are other issues such as gender and sexual orientation that added to the sense of continuing inequalities. Violence against women should be considered as a form of inequality for how can men do such dastardly acts. If they are real men then they must respect women and not treat them as if they are some sort of a subspecies. Gay and lesbians may have a different worldview but they too are citizens of this great country and thus they deserve to be treated with respect.
What can be done?
The election of President Obama is a good starting point because that event is a major proof that many Americans are not narrow-minded. It also strengthens the view that American citizens will make the right choice if they are given the time and the chance to ponder the facts. This means that they will not act based on traditions and they are not also limited by prejudices. The election of the first African American to the Oval Office is a major milestone considering the past history of this country. Furthermore, the fact that Obama came from the minority group, his victory proved that the dominant group – white America – can make the necessary adjustments if they believe that it is in the country’s best interest. Therefore, there is hope for change.
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The first thing that must happen is for the majority of Americans to have an open mind for change. They must be willing to modify their mindset and realize that America is changing rapidly fast and what is happening in the U.S. is also happening all over the globe. This simply means that each person must learn to think global and must undergo a change of belief system, one that embraces people coming from different ethnic backgrounds. This is because they have come to realize that instead of destroying their way of life, the diversity of knowledge and experiences can help strengthen this nation. It is now common knowledge that Americans alone cannot sustain economic growth and that there is a need for migrant workers and foreigners with special visas to come and work in America. There is therefore a need for more openness and higher levels of tolerance.
While there is a need to be more benevolent and to learn to accept those who are different there is also the need to face facts. This is no time to go to the extreme. It is time for politicians and policymakers to make bold decisions but at the same time be grounded with the principles that make this nation great. For instance, it is a dangerous trap to coddle minorities. They should not receive preferential treatment from the government. There is so much that has been said as to the main reason why many African American kids and many Latino children are not performing well in schools. They point to the penitentiary saying that their fathers were incarcerated and this is why they have low self-esteem. There is of course a need to help them, to offer a helping hand but they must be made to understand that they have to stop making excuses.
With regards to those who may feel that they are victims of inequality because of their gender and sexual orientation, they have to understand that they are living in a society where people are not in agreement with their beliefs. It is important to respect gays and lesbians and yet at the same time they must be patient because they are asking to transform the basic unit of society. Same-sex marriage is something that should not be taken lightly. If the American people will agree to this proposition then it must be the byproduct of serious study and not just assent for the sake of equality.
A mindset open for change is the best starting point for achieving equality in this country. The victory of President Obama last 2008 was a strong argument that indeed Americans have the capacity to make adjustments if they believe that it is the best for the country. It is important for every citizen to contribute and put an end to excuses. Everyone must help in improving the quality of life for every person living in the United States. This means that change must not be pursued to satisfy the few, change must be pursued because it is the right thing to do.