Currently, the US as a country is faced with numerous social justice issues that have sparked intense debate among the citizens and also in the international community. For many individuals, it seems that there are a lot of challenges to come. The COVID-19 pandemic has reactivated economic diminution rendering many Americans jobless; Black Lives Matters protests have triggered discussions about structural racism, inequality, and police reforms. Besides the social issues that are prevalent, long-term concerns such as climate justice and food insecurity are among the greatest and are still recurrent.
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However, a social justice issue that has been as old as American history is racial prejudice. The impact of racism can be felt in every facet of American social life. Learning institutions, business entities, media industries, and day-to-day activities are characterized by racial discrimination. Remarkably, racial prejudice is evident in the extrajudicial killings of minority groups that have sparked social justice debates within and outside the US. Racism remains to be a controversial discussion because its causes and effects are deemed beneficial by extremists who practice it but subjugative to the minorities who resent it. Racial discrimination is more pronounced in other US regions than others, and that is why the federal government, respective states, and organizations need to work harmoniously to avert social evil.
Controversies Surrounding Racism
Racial discrimination is a controversial topic of discussion because of skewed stances that some influential personalities in society have adopted. Consequently, the national discussion on race tends to intensify divisions among races and distort the Americans’ understanding of prejudice (Durrheim et al. 387). The great debates on racial discrimination produce questions that create racial and partisan divisions even between two perpetrators of the vice. Explicitly, the controversies arise because the discussion focuses more on which group is culpable of the discrimination and which state experiences racism more in comparison to others, among other disputable issues (Durrheim et al. 386). In addition, questions pertaining to racism are sometimes deviant from seeking to obtain information that can help in ridding the American society of the practice. The focus is then drifted to the investigative approach rather than the restorative viewpoint (Durrheim et al. 388). Accordingly, the racial controversies make the general public desist from applying conventional social reasoning to the issue of racism.
Causes of Racism
Several factors contribute to systematic racism in the US today. Nonetheless, some of the causes of racism can be grouped together because they are interlinked. Factors such as segregation, factionalization, and categorization of people according to different races are attributable to the endemic social ill (Bowser 576). Categorization makes people to be organized into distinct groups and promotes marginalization of the individuals who do not form part of the group. As well, factionalization works in cementing in-group loyalty and fostering intergroup competition which elicits discriminatory practices (Bowser 579). Segregation hardens racist attitudes, inclinations, and convictions and helps in the justification of the discriminatory tendencies of the perpetrators. The other four factors that cause racial prejudice are societal hierarchies, media representation, discriminatory policies and legislations, and failure to recognize racism in oneself (Bowser 580-585). While societal ranks encourage bearers of such positions to think, feel, and behave in racist ways, invidious laws legislate racial discrimination from low to the highest levels in the US. In some cases, media validates the overrepresented and glamorized representations of White Americans while deprecating people of color. The aforementioned factors of racism address causes of prejudice on a systemic and personal or individual level.
Effects of Racism on African-Americans
Interpersonal and institutional racism have hazardous impacts on the psychological and physiological statuses of the marginalized in American society. Interpersonal racism explains the prejudice and discriminatory actions that are directed towards individuals because of their races and ethnicities (Svetas et al. 257). On the other hand, institutional racism applies to approved and non-standard legislations and practices that deny individuals of fair treatment on account of racial background (Svetas et al. 259). Indeed racism has a psychological effect on the discriminated African-Americans by allowing society to deny them of their value as humans and by forcing them to embody racist convictions that are held by oppressors. This culminates in increased physiological reactivity, which, when sustained for long periods, may lead to increased cardiovascular disorders (Svetas 258). Another effect of racism is the increased mistrust between different races. Consequently, this has led to acts of violence propagated against White Americans by the Blacks in suspicion that the former are being favored by the government and other public institutions. To annihilate the effects of racism, it is essential that better ways should be sought to uphold justice and fairness in all facets of the American social sphere.
Groups Affected by Racism in the USA
Since the USA is a multiracial society, racial prejudice is experienced by the minority groups that form the smallest proportion of the population. As a matter of fact, race and ethnicity are categorized separately when it comes to national exercises such as census (Bowser 575). The most affected groups by racial discrimination are the African-Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans (Svetas 257-260). Not only do Blacks face discrimination from White supremacists, but they also face similar prejudices from Latino Americans. For instance, African-Americans are still trailing in wealth acquisition and economic freedom (Bowser 582). When it comes to income, gains have been made, but the Blacks are being paid less compared to their White counterparts and Latino Americans (Bowser 584). Without a doubt, racism affects the minority Blacks in the US more than any other race, and it has made them dominated by White supremacists as well as other Non-whites.
Least Racist States
In as much as racial segregation is embedded in American history dating back to its colonial years, the prejudice is not over the entire country as some states have made progress in racial integration. Some researchers have highly ranked a state such as New Mexico in the racial integration efforts (“Least Racist”). The state is also graded as among the best in employment, wealth, and social and civic engagement. Other parameters that show that New Mexico has low racist tendencies are the low poverty rate gap and the lowest gap in adults with at least a Bachelor’s degree (“Least Racist”). Besides New Mexico, there is Hawaii State, which is rated as the first among all states with the lowest median annual income gap (“Least Racist”). This shows that economic disparities between races in Hawaii are at the lowest levels. Further, states such as Texas, Wyoming, West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Montana, Maryland, and Colorado are progressively drifting away from the racial cultures that propagated the discrimination (“Least Racist”). Therefore, it is evident that racism is not all over the entire US because, in some regions, it is less an issue.
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What Need to be Done to Eliminate Racism
In transforming the American society, it is prudent to effect some changes that ensure discriminatory perceptions based on race are completely changed. Firstly, ending systemic racism in the US requires the effort of academic researchers and sociologists to acknowledge the facts surrounding its existence and explain the genesis of the social evil (Bowser 578). The sociologists need to understand and explain the root causes of racism as they seek to involve everyone in energetically remedying the ongoing damages of racial discrimination. For instance, it is the duty of researchers to investigate the relationship between the slave trade and the current racist perceptions. With an accurate and complete account of scientific history, it is possible to seek reconciliation based on the findings to craft a fair society. Secondly, all institutions, including the government, need to collaboratively work in creating incentives aimed at involving all races in tackling discrimination (Bowser 580). Undoubtedly, the paradigm shift in about existential racism needs to start with the identification of the root causes of the problem.
Ongoing Measures Against Racism
Presently, the US is determined to address the problem of racial discrimination within its geographical borders and on the international scene. Firstly, there is an executive order which demonstrates that the national government should pursue an elaborate scheme to advance equality for all US citizens and create opportunities for the improvement of marginalized groups. Additionally, there is a presidential memorandum that orders executive departments and government institutions to take all necessary steps to ensure that official actions do not contribute to racism or xenophobia (Bowser 582). Thirdly, the government, through the pressure of African-American activists, has incorporated racial justice as one of the US foreign policy goals (Durrheim 387-391). Globally, America supports different international organizations in empowering racial and ethnic minorities to uphold the marginalized individuals’ dignity. Some programs support locally-led measures to combat all kinds of racial hatred while facilitating access to justice for racism victims. It means that a lot is being done to minimize and eliminate racism in the US and the entire world.
Things that Have Not Been Done
Despite the numerous efforts that are geared towards the elimination of racism from the American boundaries, there are a number of issues that have not been addressed with regard to the problem. For instance, the people of color still remain structurally excluded from the American democracy and justice system. More specifically, the war on narcotics targeted the Blacks for arrest and incarceration, thereby augmenting the effects of crime disenfranchisement all over the country. Also, the legislators are not doing their best to ensure that universal suffrage for all is fully protected within the law. There have been discriminatory voter purges, present-day poll taxes, and cancellation of citizenship, especially for people of color. Notably, there has been little or no attempt to reconcile the American Blacks and the Whites and the Latino and the White supremacists to pave the way for a collaborative approach to racism abolition. Historically, the Whites have been viewed as the oppressors while the Afro-Americans and Latinos as victims, thereby making the relationships between them to be characterized by mistrust and hatred. Though in a subtle way, people of color have been precluded from American political processes.
Important People in the Fight Against Racism
Every US citizen has the power to fight against racism in the country. This power is fully guaranteed in the constitution, and the same document provides for avenues of legal redress for the problems such as racial prejudice. Notably, the constitution also allows for peaceful protests, especially by aggrieved individuals, to express their disapproval of their maltreatment. On that account, US citizens have been empowered to fix real social problems such as racial prejudice.
Apart from the people, the legislature also has an important role in eliminating racial discrimination. The Senate has the duty of ensuring that taskforce reports on racism are fully implemented. Legislations that prohibit prejudicial acts should be formulated, deliberated upon, voted on, and passed to curb discrimination if the fight against racism were to succeed. Parliamentarians such as the members of Congress and senators wield much power in the complete eradication of racism and related social practices.
In summary, the perpetrators of racism deem it necessary to stamp their dominance over their victims through causes and effects of discrimination, hence making the topic a controversial one. Racial prejudice is more prevalent in some US states compared to others, and it is for this reason that there needs to be a collaborative approach between the federal government and respective states to tackle it. Strikingly, racism raises many controversies because of the biasness that has been shown against it by some powerful and influential individuals. The main causes of racism are factionalization, segregation, and categorization, all of which have the effect of excluding people from others based on some distinguishable differences. Consequently, a psychological effect attributable to racism is the contraction of cardiovascular diseases that results from prolonged sustenance of stress. The Latinos of America and the African-Americans are the groups that are worst hit by systemic racism in America. Interestingly, some states have adopted racial integration within their social strata. Therefore for the fight against racism to succeed, citizens have to understand their role and work collaboratively with others in fighting for the rights of the oppressed.
Bowser, Benjamin. “Racism: Origin and theory.” Journal of black studies, vol.48, no.6, 2017, pp. 572-590.
Durrheim, Kevin, et al. “How Racism Discourse Can Mobilize Right‐wing Populism: The Construction of Identity and Alliance in Reactions to UKIP’s Brexit “Breaking Point” campaign.” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, vol. 28, no.6, 2018, pp. 385-405.
Svetaz, Maria, et al. “Racism and its Harmful Effects on Nondominant Racial–ethnic Youth and Youth-serving providers: A call to action for organizational change.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 63, no. 2, 2018, pp. 257-261.
“Least Racist States 2021”, World Population Review.