Social Inequality Perpetuates Racism
Social inequality is one of the primary drivers of racial discrimination. At the micro-level, unequal distribution of wealth contributes to racial segregation in housing, education, employment, and medical care (Hanks, Solomon & Weller, 2018). African Americans have relatively lower income levels than non-Hispanic Whites (Assari, 2018). The high economic insecurity and fewer opportunities for moving up the social ladder lead to racial segregation. Additionally, financial instability hinders black families from accessing quality healthcare, getting employment and transitioning between jobs, moving to new neighborhoods, and responding to emergencies (Hanks et al., 2018). Inequalities contribute to a higher incidence of preventable diseases and disability and financial dependence, consequently deepening racial segregation.
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Several macro-level factors exacerbate this vicious cycle of social inequality. Unequal distribution of bargaining power among the various ethnic groups promotes structural and institutional racism (Hanks et al., 2018). African Americans lack political and economic power and influence compared to their white peers. They are often systematically excluded from policies related to housing, education, healthcare, employment, and other services (Hanks et al., 2018). Therefore, personal inequalities and racially biased policies at the institutional level are primary drivers of racial segregation.
How Individual and Institutional Discrimination Influence Social Inequality
Social inequality in the United States is an outcome of many factors. At the individual level, the low-income level is the major contributor to the group differences in society. Poverty in this group is caused by high rates of unemployment and low paid jobs, limiting access to quality education, medical care, and a decent income, as well as cutting people off from social networks. For example, black Americans report poor health outcomes compared to non-Hispanic whites (Assari, 2018). Moreover, higher poverty levels impede blacks from paying for their children’s education and building wealth to become financially stable when they lose jobs or retire. Furthermore, low educational achievement, family arrangements such as single parenting, comorbid diseases and disability, and living in a remote or disadvantaged community which have limited access to basic services (Hanks et al., 2018). At the institutional level, research shows that structural discrimination in the labor market, housing, education, and health policy has been cited as the primary contributor to social inequality in the country (Bailey et al., 2017). Therefore, unequal opportunities at the individual and institutional levels contribute to racial disparities in the country.
Solution to the Problem of Social Inequality
Social protection is a viable solution to the persistent social inequalities. Abramo, Cecchini, and Ullmann (2020) propose social security as an effective strategy for eradicating poverty and inequalities, especially in health care. The authors identify several targeted programs that have been implemented and expanded across different sectors to cushion individuals and families from poor health outcomes and sudden loss of jobs and income and enhance access to education services. Some of these measures include progressive taxation in favor of low-income households and increasing public spending to support disadvantaged groups.
Social protection policies are effective interventions compared to historical solutions. Previous efforts include raising the minimum wage, increasing access to quality preschool, expanding apprenticeships, and offering universal paid family leave. Persistent poverty and inequalities necessitate integrated policy interventions such as social protection to create and strengthen synergies across different sectors (Abramo et al., 2020). Expanding coverage and universal access can guarantee the right to education, employment, health, and other amenities, which can help to sight and overcome inequalities in all areas. Therefore, there is a need to create and strengthen universal social protection systems to reduce social inequalities.
Abramo, L., Cecchini, S., & Ullmann, H. (2020). Addressing health inequalities in Latin America: The role of social protection. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 25, 1587-1598. Web.
Assari, S. (2018). Health disparities due to diminished return among black Americans: Public policy solutions. Social Issues and Policy Review, 12(1), 112-145. Web.
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Hanks, A., Solomon, D., & Weller, C. E. (2018). Systematic inequality: How America’s structural racism helped create the black-white wealth gap. Washington: Center for American Progress, 39 (9), 1131-1152. Web.