Diversity remains a unique aspect of many urban areas across the globe. Cities characterized by diversity have higher chances of benefiting from economic expansion and innovation (Xiangming, Orum, and Paulsen 179). However, wealthy individuals have been observed to isolate themselves from the poor members of society. Individuals from minority groups encounter different obstacles whenever trying to achieve their personal and economic goals. Similar arguments are presented in the book “Introduction to Cities” by Xiangming Chen, Anthony Orum, and Krista Paulsen. This essay describes how the opportunities for racial minorities were different from those of European immigrants. The paper goes further to explain how this development depicts the role of race as a barrier to social mobility or assimilation.
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Opportunities for Racial Minorities and European Immigrants
Throughout the 19th century, the number of immigrants moving to the United States from Europe increased considerably. The majority of these immigrants acquired new jobs or started their businesses. The increasing number of immigrants transformed the nature of race relations in different American cities (Welburn 207). Such changes would have far-reaching implications on the diversity of such cities.
Throughout the period, more people moved from their countries and settled in other cities. Immigrants who settled first obtained the best jobs and lands. Immigrants from Asia and Latin America were forced to work and live in unfavorable conditions. It was mandatory for them to work for low wages (Xiangming et al. 184). Consequently, the social class received a new meaning since the issue of ethnicity became relevant. This issue would eventually dictate the opportunities of every future population. The lives of many immigrants in different United States cities were characterized by inhumane conditions.
On the other hand, many European immigrants were employed in different companies to provide both unskilled and skilled labor (Xiangming et al. 187). Some of them worked as watchmen and tailors. However, cases of segregation continued to increase as more ethnic groups arrived in different urban areas.
The case of Five Points shows how the wave of immigration led to unanticipated developments. For instance, the housing conditions for many minority groups became deplorable (Xiangming et al. 193). African Americans were pushed further to poor areas. New concerns such as disease outbreaks and epidemics affected the lives of more people. The tenement housing system affected the public health of different cities.
The segregation of whites and blacks in different cities in America is something that has defined the 21st century. The minorities had been underrepresented in different economic functions. Scholars indicate that inequality remained a major challenge before the Second World War. During the period, ethnic segregation was prevalent and continued to exist as more minorities moved to different cities in the country (Xiangming et al. 180).
The example of New York portrays the patterns of segregation and separation that were seen in many cities across the nineteenth century. During the time, buildings and estates were designated depending on the ranks of their residents. European powers such as Britain “imposed systems of racial and social hierarchies” (Xiangming et al. 181). The development of industrial practice led to class inequality since more people were forced to provide cheap labor. African Americans were exposed to numerous challenges such as environmental degradation and congestion.
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Many whites perpetuated different malpractices against different minority groups. For example, whites forced many African Americans to live in restricted areas. During the Great Migration, many minorities migrated to new cities in the North. However, these new immigrants were “confined to relatively small areas of the city” (Xiangming et al. 196). Consequently, the minority groups found themselves in ghettos characterized by unfavorable living conditions. Such ghettos were prone to floods and other unfavorable features (Xiangming et al. 196).
Many blacks were unable to get better jobs or opportunities. Their houses were usually small and overcrowded. The black ghettos became the ultimate symbol of poverty and inequality. The establishment of more ghettos led to new tensions between urban African Americans and whites (Welburn 218). The whites treated every black person as either poor or inferior. This labeling made it impossible for minorities to pursue their goals. They were unable to get quality education and health services. This fact explains why different diseases claimed the lives of many African Americans and other minorities.
The development and establishment of more ghettos in different cities across the North paved way for a new era of segregation (Xiangming et al. 196). Many cities in the South embraced the malpractice and forced more minorities to live in squalors. Cities that had been properly-integrated before the Great Migration became more segregated. Some of these cities included Jacksonville, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, and St. Loius (Xiangming et al. 196). This discussion, therefore, shows clearly that many minorities such as American Americans were unable to access a wide range of opportunities available to many European immigrants. These minority groups struggled with numerous quandaries such as poverty, jobless, and inequality.
Race as a Barrier to Social Mobility
The existence of inequality explains why race has been an obstacle to social mobility. Throughout the early 20th century, African Americans and whites occupied different regions in each city in the United States. This development led to a phenomenon nicknamed social isolation. Xiangming et al. define social isolation as the “lack of interaction between groups, particularly between a minority group and the majority population” (Xiangming et al. 198). The segregated groups were forced to develop their unique cultural values and patterns. They established new celebrations and traditions in a world that treated them as second class residents.
The continued wave of inequality and segregation has led to poverty in the country. During the period, many African Americans were unable to get better jobs. Institutional and interpersonal discrimination made it impossible for these minorities to have access to different opportunities (Welburn 219). The whites used violence to ensure these African Americans lived in ghetto areas. African Americans could not purchase homes in white-dominated regions. That being the case, the situation made it impossible for minorities to improve their living conditions.
Many African Americans continued to struggle with similar challenges throughout the 20th century. Today many realtors continue to direct African American buyers to houses in black neighborhoods (Welburn 220). The current social system in the United States has ensured that black ghettos remain critical aspects of many cities in the United States (Xiangming et al. 199). These minorities are unable to occupy the most desirable social classes.
The history of many American cities explains why race relationships have prevented social mobility in the country. Many individuals from minority groups were restricted from living in specific suburbs. They were only allowed to live in ghettos characterized by diseases, unhealthy living conditions, and poverty (Miller par. 6). Although a few individuals worked hard to transform their lives, they still encountered increased levels of discrimination. This discussion shows clearly that diversity in America is something that is been associated with inequality.
Miller, Sarah. “For African-Americans, Trend Is Back to the South ; Economic Opportunity Is Creating a Reverse Migration.” The Christian Science Monitor. 2001. Web.
Welburn, Jessica. “Dual Consciousness, Social Mobility, and the Experiences of Middle-Income African Americans in the Post-Civil Rights Era.” Journal of African American Studies 20.2 (2016): 202-227. Print.
Xiangming Chen, Anthony Orum, and Krista Paulsen. Introduction to Cities, Wiley. New York: Wiley, 2012. Print.