Racism in America: Discrimination and Prejudice


Racism, as Miller and Gerran (2008) state, are attitudes, actions, beliefs, or policies that undermine individuals or groups in relation to their races. In the US, it involves discrimination of the people of color by the white people, supported by the institutions that were established in their favors, thereby presenting a legal racism.

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Similarities and differences in discrimination

As Berlin (2009) points out, America as a multiracial state witnessed numerous nature of racism. Since the races in America are different, each had a different discrimination type. However, some races experienced a similar discrimination. The most common that was similar to all was the use of the term racist, which was considered a grievous insult punishable under the American law. Even if the law was meant to punish all the American races alike, the minority races were arguable the major culprits, as they were the ones oppressed. More frequently, the colored community referred to the whites as racists. Even though this law was adopted to equalize the races, it favored the white Native Americans.

For the Negro society, the quest for quality education in the American public schools has been an endless struggle. According to Berlin (2009), whenever the Negroes bypass an obstacle posed by any of the barriers to attain quality education, another institutional barrier immediately arises with new challenges. Whereas the Negros faces such challenges, the Native Americans have institutional policies that support quality and fair education to all their children. Such oppositions to an equal opportunity of good quality education to all children irrespective of their race are undesirable and, clearly, discriminatory in nature.

According to Berlin (2009), the American Constitution and the then naturalization act of 1790 held that whites were the reference point for American citizenship. Therefore, the privileges enjoyed by the whites were in relationship to the color of their skin. This legally abiding law encouraged racism; it reinforced the use of race in depressing wages, undermined workers solidarity, and segmented the labor force.

Quite often, when the black people disputed racism, they could lose their jobs, face imprisonment, assassination, as well as eviction. In contrast, when the whites challenged racism, their close friends, relatives, and neighbors termed them traitors. In some cases, they would be denied basic opportunities (Berlin, 2009). The discrimination that mainly affected the blacks went unpunished in the US and in other parts of the world. In addition, towards the end of the civil rights era, the rights laws and orders created a moral panic that dwelt on the racial picture of crime. Even though, the drug use and trade were mostly associated with the whites, the blacks due to poverty were used to transport these drugs. This law, in similar ways, affected all the races in America (Berlin, 2009).

Reasons for discrimination

Discrimination and prejudice of Africans brought as slaves, immigrants from China, Japan, Ireland, Eastern Europe, and Italians in the US is based on religion, biological differences, politics, and cultural differences (Miller & Gerran, 2008). However, some authors without determining the accuracy or relevancy of the inferiority of certain races, equate it to the cause of discrimination (Miller & Gerran, 2008). This view indicates that discrimination and prejudice in America portrays the minority races as unfit and does not deserve equality. In support to this view, Miller and Gerran (2008) indicate that empirical research ascertain that psychological inferiority that mainly entails personality flaws and immorality is a major cause of discrimination. In this, the physical characteristics that include the skin color and the crookedness of the hair, as the genetic characteristics, are the assumptions linked to the psychological inferiority.

Similarly, Miller and Gerran (2008) indicate that the minority races in America are discriminated because of their slavery background. According to Miller and Gerran (2008), slavery apart from being historically noted, it is biblically referenced. Therefore, discrimination was an affirmation of what was noted to come up after the slave trade. In addition, the Native Americans did not care for the health of their workers who were mostly slave from other continents. This led to an increase in mental disorders among the slaves.

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Likewise, the myth of intellectual inferior which to date still dominates the American beliefs is relatively a source of discrimination. As Miller and Gerran (2008) state, historical studies and recent scientific studies continue to affirm that the Native Americans have superior intellectual capacity as to other races living in America. Even though this notion is diffident, it is supported and continually publicized, thus resulting in discrimination of other races by the whites.


In sum, there exists a wide a number of discrepancies between the whites and other communities of color to date due to the legally imposed racism in America. The discrimination aspects arise from the wealth gap, disparities in healthy outcomes, and the education gap among others. Discriminations and prejudice has furthered segregation in housing and limited investment for the communities of color while favored the whites. Therefore, to address the underlying factors that are evidenced to date, racial discrimination has to be abolished completely.


Berlin, I. (2009).Many Thousands Gone: The first two centuries of slavery in North America. London: Harvard University press. Web.

Miller, J. & Gerran, M. A. (2008).Racism in the United States: Implications for the helping professions. California: Thomson Brooks/Cole. Web.

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