US Racial Inequality, Legislation and Immigration | Free Essay Example

US Racial Inequality, Legislation and Immigration

Words: 2833
Topic: Sociology
Updated:

The Significance of De Jure Segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Civil Rights Act

Society today can be described as a mosaic of races with different people living together as one society. This situation is starkly different from what the society practiced many years ago when they were pure in terms of race. Their boundaries were well defined and far apart. During the period of the old world order, people of the same races were found in specific continents, with the few pockets of racial mix-ups being rare and sparse. About the above hint, American society has become a racial mixing pot where all races of the world are found living together. However, this mixing comes with problems of its own, which the society strives to address.

The De Jure segregation can be described as the state-sanctioned segregation whereby there are legislative provisions to support and enforce the racial segregation. De Jure segregation was meant to give the white community legal support in enhancing and enforcing its view as being the superior community, thus separating public facilities by law and along racial lines. On the other hand, African-Americans who were largely the most affected by racial discrimination led the civil rights movement. The movement campaigned for the enactment of civil rights that would protect all American citizens by giving them equal civil rights without looking at their skin color. The civil rights act of 1866, which was further amended in 1964, gave rights to all citizens. It was enacted on different levels at different times so that all citizens could enjoy such rights and immunities from the federal government (Nightingale 22). The civil rights act has given the African-Americans and other minority racial groups the same rights as the white community because they consider discrimination against any individual along with civil rights unlawful.

The quality of life of African-Americans has drastically changed due to the enactment of the civil right acts and the campaigns from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Since the civil rights act of 1964, the black community has been able to access quality public facilities that were previously the preserve of the white community. According to Nightingale, the African-Americans have been able to enter the political arena to practice their democratic rights by voting for leaders of their choice and standing to be voted for by the public (26). African-Americans have had access to better social services than what they previously had such as schools, healthcare, and other social amenities. African-Americans have developed businesswise too because they have had the same business opportunities to grow and develop like the previously privileged white community. Although the African-American community has benefited and developed from the enactment of the civil rights act, its quality of life, in general, cannot be compared to that of the white community because the former community lags in almost all aspects that define the quality of life (Nightingale 30).

However, this case cannot be attributed to the present-day segregation because it is not as open as the pre-civil rights days. North America was previously occupied by the Aboriginal group known as the Red Indians who had their own traditional social and religious practices before the European invasion, which was led by the Spaniards in the 1500s. The Red Indians resisted any attempts to change their lifestyle because they wanted to maintain their traditional lifestyle. This made them fight off the white man as a way of resisting change. They, therefore, fought the Spaniards and later the Britons who make up most of the present-day American inhabitants. The development of the American nation saw the Indians being restricted from moving in and out of their reservation areas. It also came with a forced assimilation policy that was meant to civilize the Red Indians by force (Zitkala 12). The Red Indians started a ghost dance movement led by a Paiute named Wovoka in 1889 who prophesied the extinction of the white people and a return to the traditional way of life. It was a resistance dance against the white peoples newly imposed way of life.

The Dawes act of 1887 also known as the general allotment act was meant to disenfranchise the local Indian communities of their land by making laws that would allow the federal government to take over the land owned by the Indian tribes in one way or another to open it up for occupation. The future for the American-Indians is bleak as far as their identity and traditional way of life appears because they have been assimilated into the mainstream community and that they cannot be easily identified now.

Immigration Patterns of Hispanic Groups

Hispanic groups in the United States of America have shown different immigration patterns about their entry into the United States of America. All the different groups had different causes for immigrating with the common denominator being that theirs was not voluntary (Alicea 34). The immigration patterns of these groups are different because they happened at different times, with each group coming into the United States of America on its own time and with its reasons. The Hispanic groups also have specific areas where their nationalities settle once they enter the USA. Thus, certain states can be identified as predominantly inhabited by people from a specific country. America as a country is surrounded by Hispanic speaking countries, which are not as prosperous as the United States of America. In recent years, economic and political factors have been identified as the recent drivers of their movement. The Chicano movement was a civil rights movement just like the African American civil rights movement of the 1960s. The Chicano movement had its origins in the 1940s.

It was described as the Mexican-American civil rights movement. The main reason for the emergence of the Chicano movement was to fight for the restoration of land rights to Hispanic farmworkers besides fighting for education reforms so that their children have good quality education (Alicea 36). During the 1848 war between America and Mexico, America took away a part of Mexico’s land, which the Chicano movement wanted it handed to the Mexico-American group afterward because it believed it was its ancestral land. This led to the appointment of Hispanic persons into the government by President John Kennedy as a way of acknowledging the Mexico-Americans as part of the United States of America’s community. The Chicano movement fought for the unionization of farmworkers who were mostly Mexican-Americans who were working in the grape fields. This led to the signing of agreements between the farm owners and workers in 1970. Hispanic groups are categorized according to their origins and the reasons for their immigration into the United States of America. Alicea states that the Mexican-Americans’ experience was a group of conquered people who were then taken over by their conquerors (37). During the war of 1840, the Mexico-Americans of the southwest became part of the United States of America after part of Mexico was annexed after the war to become part of the United States of America.

Puerto Ricans came into the United States of America after their country was taken over by the US after the 1898 war between the Spanish and Americans, which led to the transference of Puerto Rico colony from the hands of Spaniards. Thus, it became a colony of the United States of America. The Cubans’ experience is mostly political, with most of the Cubans coming into America after the Bay of Pigs war between America and Cuba. Most Cuban-Americans come to the USA due to political persecution back at home. They are usually welcomed to America once they make it to the American territory (Alicea 38). The United States of America uses citizens from these countries as sources of cheap labor for its economy while subjecting the immigrant workers to poor working conditions due to their immigration status. Asian-Americans are people who live in America. However, they have their roots in the continent of Asia from where they moved to America. They are Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Indonesians, and Filipinos among other groups that fit this description. According to Booker, this group experiences a lot of prejudice and microaggression because of being so distinct and one of the smallest minority groups (27). Some groups of Asian-Americans can be defined as the first, the second, and the subsequent generation groups.

The first generation groups are immigrants from the Asian countries who are coming to the United States of America while the second and subsequent generations are the immigrant children of the first generation. The dividing line between these two groups is usually one of conflict due to generational experiences, with the first generation group being conservative in its traditions and culture while the second and subsequent generations are liberal and Americanized in their culture and language. This usually leads to a clash between parents and their children because they usually try to force them to observe their Asian culture and maintain it while in a foreign land. The Asian culture advocates for tight family bonds and filial piety while the free American spirit advocates for individualism and liberalism, which are a direct opposite to the Asian culture. Just like the Hispanics, the Asian community had different times that saw a significant number of different groups arriving in the United States of America (Booker 27). The first-ever Asian group to land in America was in 1790 when Filipino sailors escaped to the shore from a Spanish ship, which was holding them as prisoners. They landed on the New Orleans bay, which is the first recorded arrival of Asians on the soil of America to be recorded. The second major group to land comprised the Chinese people who came in as laborers to the Goldfields of Northern Carolina in 1848.

Their immigration was largely supported by capitalists who took them in as a source of cheap labor. The Japanese movement can be traced during 1890-1924 when the restriction of entry of Asians was constrained to skilled workers only. In 1902, Philippine became a colony of the United States of America. Under this arrangement, a limited number of Filipinos were allowed entry in the United States of America, with some being granted nationality in the long-run. The Asian Indians came in at first as Sikh agricultural workers from Punjab who arrived in 1900-1920 in the Pacific Coast. They too were treated with hostility by the American nationals together with the government. It was a term coined to express the invasion of the Asian community in the United States of America and the threat they were on the Anglo Saxon community as a pure race in America (Booker 28). It was the same time the Japanese had defeated the Chinese army in the Sino Japanese war, thus making it a military power. The yellow peril saw some states riot against the increased presence of the Asian population. During the Second World War, many Japanese Americans were rounded up and incarcerated in camps due to the position that the Japanese government and army had taken during the war.

Is White Ethnic Groups a Minority?

The white people can be described as the majority race in the United States of America compared to other racially identifiable groups that also existed in the United States of America. However, the white group is made up of many ethnic groups that have their origins in different parts of Europe such as the English, Scottish, Italians, Swedes, Greeks, Germans, and all European ethnic groups that can be identified. The composition of the white community has never been fully profiled to identify the origins and existing numbers of its people because all white people in most cases look the same except some ethnic groups such as the Italians who can easily be identified (Omi and Winant 23). Narrowing down to the ethnic identities has not been explored as much because of the advantages that come with being a member of the larger white community. The reality on the ground finds that there are white ethnic groups that qualify to be categorized as minority groups when it comes to analyzing their numbers about other ethnic groups. However, because the groups are rarely identified based on their ethnicity, it makes it difficult to point out unless the person says so. Other ethnic groups such as the Chinese, African-Americans, Koreans, and Filipino’s have distinct features that make them stand out in the public as different people when compared to the whites who form the largest block (Booker 27).

The patterns for immigration for various white ethnic groups differ from one group to the other because each group had its wave of immigrants coming into the United States of America for their own reasons. The first group to come to the United States was the Spanish group, which mostly went and settled in the Mexican lands were came in as a colonialist group to exploit its subjects. The second wave of immigrants was the English people who came into America to look for a new life and opportunities. This, even to date, remains the major ethnic group because it settled in large numbers all over America and that it has since become the dominant single white ethnic group (Omi and Winant 26). The Napoleonic Wars of the 19th century saw another group of European immigrants from the northwest Europe come in large numbers. The twentieth century saw a wave of new immigrants from southern and Eastern Europe who came in their millions after legislation on immigration was relaxed. The Jewish experience is different and an interesting one because Jews are identified based on their religion or genealogy that traces them back to Israel. Jews are all over the world. Most of them came as nationals of different countries were still identified as Jews.

Three factors that affect the mobility and assimilation of white ethnic groups can be narrowed down to Economic, racial, and neighborhood factors. Racial factors have made it easy for whites to integrate into society because the situation usually provides them with an easy landing spot when they come to America. Whites tend to get preferential treatment when compared to other ethnic groups. Whites have a better economic position when they come to America due to the high standards of life back in Europe, which makes their integration into the American society easy when compared to other ethnic groups (Omi and Winant 36). Contemporary immigration differs from that of white groups because most white groups come in as highly trained skilled workers who are not in a rush to get the American life because their life back at home is good. Other ethnic groups such as Africans and Asians have to be strictly controlled because given a chance they can flood the American society as economic immigrants coming to find a better life. On the other hand, industrialization is a major factor in immigration because it creates the demand for labor at different levels to optimize production and profits in the long-run. Immigrants are a source of cheap labor in this case.

Why there is Gender Inequality in the USA

Gender inequality exists in the USA just the way it exists in other countries and societies. Gender inequality has been in existence for a long time due to the difference in physical strength between men and women together with the masculine egos that are traditionally part of the society. Gender inequality exists in the USA because of the different factors that exist in society. Society has defined gender roles, which allocate superior roles to men (Rahman and Stevie 7). Society believes that men have a stronger character compared to women both physically and emotionally. Patriachism and sexism have played a big role in asserting that men are superior to women. Sexism states that one gender is superior, which allows patriachism to pick from that and that men are superior to women. Women have been relegated a catch-up role in societal matters such as work, education systems, and political systems because men have always excelled in these areas for a long time.

The success of women in these areas cannot be compared to that of men (Rahman and Stevie 12). Feminists, on the other hand, feel that all genders should be equal and that women should be equated to men at all levels. Feminists have come up with campaigns for equality through such moves as affirmative action. People from different sexual orientations have been viewed as a minority because of what can be described as abnormal sexual orientations. This group of people is viewed with a different eye in society because the majority of the society subscribes to an ethical and moral code, which makes these orientations illegitimate. Gay rights contrast with the civil rights movement because the civil rights movement was against racial discrimination. In addition, the gay rights movement is against sexual discrimination. The future of same-sex marriage is expected to be bright due to concessions that the government is slowly making in recognition of the same.

Works Cited

Alicea, Marisa. The Latino Immigration experience: the Case of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cuba’s. Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Sociology, Houston: Arte Publico Press. Print.

Booker, Karene. “Asian Americans Often Feel Micro-Aggressions.” Cornell Chronicle 1.1 (2013): 25-27. Print.

Nightingale, Carl. Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Print.

Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960’s to the 1990’s (Critical Social thought), London: Routlege. Print.

Rahman, Momin, and Jackson Stevie. Gender and Sexuality: Sociological Approaches, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010. Print.

Zitkala, Sa. American Indian Stories, Washington: Hayworth Publishing House, 1921. Print.