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Racial Discrimination as a Public Problem


It sums up the essay by emphasizing the need for governments to rethink the definition of the problem and institute fresh policies and regulations.

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In the modern-day, countries across the world follow the democratic system of governance, which purportedly guarantees equal rights to all citizens, irrespective of gender, race, religion, nation of origin, or physical limitations. However, the fact remains that, despite the assertions of nations to facilitate equal rights to all individuals, the poor and downtrodden keep on being marginalized. Though human beings claim to have achieved overall development and sophistication in all walks of life, racial discrimination still prevails, albeit in the guise of some or other pretexts. It continues to thrive and evidence suggests that all groups of non-whites in the US have “suffered from discrimination that they have dealt with in many ways” (Burstein, 1985, p.12).

Causes of the Problem

The main reason for this is that the clout of political power remains in the hands of a few. Thus, to attain the materialization of their ulterior objectives, they exploit hapless people. This deprives the ordinary people of the opportunities they deserve and their share of the bargain goes to the ones whom the rich and powerful people favor. Recent reports of such instances indicate that despite the claims of different countries that they have eschewed discrimination, this menace still exists in modern societies. Since discrimination occurs in various guises, it becomes impossible for a common man either to understand it or recognize its implications and, therefore, transformational leaders have a crucial role in eradicating such menaces from society.

The root cause of the problem is the lack of proper guidance as to what constitutes discrimination and how people understand the concept. Prejudice based on various grounds has been prevalent in society right from the beginning of human civilization. This has paved the way for discrimination. While some criteria for discrimination have focused on the race or ethnic origin of a person, others considered nationality or individual background. Thus, society kept on differentiating people on the grounds of several considerations, and in many cases, people became deprived of their opportunities.

Potential Remedies to the Problem

To eliminate discrimination from society, people must first discard their prejudices against certain groups. In the aforesaid example, the right course of action to avoid prejudice, on the part of the government, would have been to expunge “the records of ex-prisoners who have successfully completed probation and parole,” which would have negated the chances of prejudice against the said individual (Crosby & Bryson, 2005, p.162).

Personally, I believe that the problem cannot be effectively solved by any legal or criminal action against the perpetrators but it rather calls for awareness and realization of the significance of civil rights and the need for extending equal opportunities for all citizens. To facilitate this, society needs transformational leaders, who can work in tandem with the community and raise the awareness of others and motivate them to recognize this aspect. Such leaders also must educate others in recognizing discrimination in any form irrespective of the guise it takes, so that appropriate intervention can be facilitated and remedial measures are taken. This becomes all the more important because discrimination in the present day is “often subtle and covert, posing problems for social scientific conceptualization and measurement” (Pager & Shepherd, 2008, p. 1). Another disturbing fact is that discrimination does not prevail only in a social or employment context but it flexes its muscles even to areas like housing, credit, and consumer markets. The government, therefore, needs to monitor the system and provide the public with grievance redressing machinery to address the complaints of discrimination.

Expected Policy Subsystems to Deal with the Problem

Therefore, considering the present status of the problem and its far-reaching effects on society, governments should rethink their policies and redefine what constitutes discrimination. Besides planning strategies and implementing various programs for checking this problem, governments should also institute more stringent policies and regulations and provide incentives and encouragement to organizations and institutions that are following the best employment practices. The subsystem needs to envisage an organization that will incorporate monitoring of complaints of discrimination as well as evolving transparent policies to ensure that existing EEO policies are strictly followed and fresh policies, as appropriate, are instituted. The scope of transformational leadership in identifying and resolving the problems in this area is crucial. Therefore, governments should also consider instituting special agency services to deal with complaints of discrimination in an organized manner, to yield better results.

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Redefinition of the Problem

In the present day world, the problem of discrimination has evolved into a new dimension, where it hardly becomes obvious. Thus, the concept of discrimination should be redefined to encompass situations where equal representation is not attained in any organization. In other words, if an organization does not have any representatives of a specific ethnic group, the reasons should be investigated.

Outcomes Expected

The introduction of a proper subsystem to monitor the representation of employees in organizations will help in ensuring that all categories of people receive equal opportunities. This will also rule out discrimination in any guise. Besides, it will instill a sense of responsibility in organizations to adhere to the mandates of equal opportunity regulations. A more important consideration is that when someone denies a person his/her rights and opportunities on the basis of his race, nationality, physical limitations, or any other consideration, the loss does not merely apply to that person. Denying a skilled person an opportunity on the basis of prejudice, in turn, deprives the nation of the talent that will be of potential use to its progress.


Burstein, P. (1998). Discrimination, Jobs, and Politics: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity in the United States since the New Deal. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Crosby, B. C., & Bryson, J. M. (2005). Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared-Power World. 2nd Edn. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Pager, D., & Shepherd, H. (2008). The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets. Annual Review of Sociology. 34, 181–209.

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