The State of Race in America Today
There has been a steady decline in racial disparities in the United States. If to compare the state of race fifty years ago with today’s situation, one would agree that people of all races in America have become more integrated than ever before. The persuasive evidence suggests that racial discrimination in the US is no longer affecting the allocation of contemporary opportunities. Besides, based on the ever concealed, cumulative and indirect nature of the effects of racial discrimination, the current estimates of race may only understate the degree to which racial discrimination has been contributing to poor socio-economic outcomes in the USA, especially for the minority groups. Even though there has been a remarkable improvement since 1960s, the problem of racial discrimination still remains a sensitive subject in the contemporary US (Pynchon, 1966). There has been an unceasing effort by activists fighting against race discrimination to propagate zero tolerance to the social problem, which is perceived to be perpetuated secretly. To delineate a real picture of the state of race in America today, this essay evaluates the areas in which there has been historic progress in the fight against racial discrimination. The essay also outlines the fields that seem to need more work to improve the race issue. Besides, the essay highlights the possible remedies that would be appropriate in combating the problem of race in the US today, as well as outlining vital lessons that the activists working on those problems can draw from the existing social movements.
Assessment of Areas in Which There Has Been Historic Progress
Following the increased activism of the minority races fighting against white supremacy within the past sixty years, racial discrimination in America decreased to negligible levels in certain sectors. The first sector that witnessed impressive progress in the fight against racisms was education sector. Unlike the past, when discrimination along racial lines was tense in Americans learning institutions, today’s American schools, colleges and universities are quite accommodative to all races. All American citizens regardless of race can access any level of education and acquire the requisite qualification without any impediment. As a result, the percentage of elite among the minority races in America has escalated in the recent past tremendously as opposed to those days when there were innumerable restrictions (Kelly, 1996). Studies conducted in certain institutions to gauge the level of racial cohesion have also revealed that prejudice and tendencies for racial segregation in the universities have dropped over the past two decades. This becomes obvious since white students more and more comfortably mingle with students of other races in sports and other activities.
Apart from the education sector, racial discrimination in the US has also dwindled drastically in the sphere of leadership. Today, Americans seem to be comfortable with being subordinate to a leader of whichever race (Bonilla-Silva & Dietrich, 2011). This is a big improvement considering the fact that in the past minority races had even been denied voting rights. Only white people were permitted to vote or contest the political leadership position. In today’s politics, there are a number of governors, senators and members of American parliament drawn from virtually all the races. The incumbent President of the USA Barack Obama who is the first American black president is worth mentioning here.
Furthermore, there have been several improvements in the medical sector whereby all citizens irrespective of race have equal access to proper medical services. This became possible after certain restraining provisions were eliminated from the constitution granting all the people equal medical and health rights. Today, nearly all Americans have medical insurance cover as a part of the ObamaCare medical policies that were instigated way back in 2010 (Bonilla-Silva & Dietrich, 2011). An Afro-American can seek medical services from any hospital or health care center without any anxiety, unlike it was in the past, when there were special facilities reserved for the white Americans only.
In addition to the improvements mentioned above, the current and the recent federal governments have demonstrated the dedication to creating equally good infrastructure across the United States regardless of color of the skin of the inhabitants. In the past, only those areas that were populated by white Americans had superior infrastructure, such as freeways and sophisticated facilities. For instance the black people who lived in the southern states lagged behind in development for many years as compared to the white-inhabited northern states. Today, America has balanced development of infrastructure across the country, and there are no more discrimination and sidelining of places in terms of physical and economic development. What is more, the government makes a great effort to ensure equitable distribution of national resources.
Equality, Rights and Freedoms
Similarly, all citizens of America today are recognized as equal by the current constitution. This is contrary to the past, when indigenous Americans, especially white people, were perceived to be superior. It is evident that the social political landscape of the US was shaped during those times of passionate activism (Kelly, 1996). However, with unceasing expansion of the democratic mood in the country’s leadership, the antagonism subsided after sometime. Amendments to the constitution adopted later, especially Title VII, which clarified the positions of all the marginalized races in the US, only improved the situation (Kelly, 1996). The Acts have then helped to suppress the animosity that had spread through the country. The number of issues connected with the color of skin has decreased since then in the communities.
Areas Where More Work Is Needed
Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice System
Conversely, there are a few areas that the US government and the citizens at large will have to work on even harder to eradicate racism completely. The first sector is the sector of law enforcement/criminal justice system. It is unfortunate that despite the existence of constitution provisions that presuppose equality of citizens before the law, representatives of the minority races do not always enjoy the implementation of such clauses. Skeptics have consistently faulted the courts for giving black Americans harsher punishments than the white people even when the crimes committed are similar. This raises worries that racial discrimination is still a reality even in America. At the same time, the court system has been demonstrating downright favoritism for the white people when it comes to granting bails and/or injunctions. More often than not, black Americans and representatives of other minority races happen to be the offenders whenever implicated in cases with white people. Some subsidiary laws were passed merely to glorify white people and demean other races at the same time. For instance, there were laws that obliged minority races to make way for white people in buses, at social gatherings or even when seeking services in any public establishments. This has been quite humiliating considering the fact that criminal justice systems are supposed to be neutral and advocate equality before the law.
Employment is another area where racial discrimination is still a big problem that needs to be eradicated. Even though there have been various remarkable improvements in the labor force status of minority races, significant disparities are still rife on the US labor market. Statistics have revealed that African Americans are twice unlikely to become employed than white Americans. At the same time, the wages of black people and other minority races continue to lag behind those of white people even at the same job positions. The researches have scrutinized the role that racial discrimination plays in shaping rampant disparities on the contemporary labor market (Bonilla-Silva & Dietrich, 2011). Audit studies that focus on hiring decisions have consistently unveiled strong evidence of racial discrimination in today’s American employment of people of different races (Bonilla-Silva & Dietrich, 2011).
The subject of housing and social amenities in the current Obama administration has aroused much more heated debate than it had earlier been expected. The perennial residential segregation by race still remains a noticeable feature in the present-day American cities. By 1990s, black Americans were as much segregated from white people as they had been during the early twentieth century (Massey, 1990). Today, the levels of segregation seem to be unaffected by rising socioeconomic statuses. While racial segregation appears to have modestly decreased in the last three decades, black people and other minority groups in the US continue to experience residential placement problems that markedly vary from those that white people encounter. The point to which racial discrimination continues to influence racial disparities in housing is a major preoccupation of federal housing agents, as well as the social scientists. The majority of the scientific works on racial discrimination in housing has utilized experimental audit data. For instance, from the year 2000, the US Department of Urban Development and Housing started to pilot extensive sequence of audits to measure housing discrimination against such minority races as black people, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans among others (Bonilla-Silva & Dietrich, 2011).The results of the study revealed augmented bias across multiple dimensions. In fact, black people in particular experienced consistent adverse treatment in almost one in five housing cases.
Credit Facilities/ Wealth Distribution
It is observed that white Americans own roughly twelve times the wealth of African Americans in the contemporary United States. In fact, those white people that are close to the bottom of the income distribution have been found to possess more wealth as compared to the black Americans that are at the top of the income distribution. Since home ownership is among the most substantial sources of wealth accretion, patterns that affect viability and value of homeownership have had an impact on overall wealth disparities. Credible evidence has suggested that black Americans and other minority races, such as Hispanics, still face greater rejection rates and less favorable terms when it comes to securing mortgages than white Americans do with credit characteristics similar to those of black people.
Recommended Remedies for the Outlined Challenges
Since the problem of racial discrimination is still rampant despite tremendous effort to eradicate it, the best way to confront it is to start and spread conflict management training programs in learning institutions of all levels. With this training, all citizens irrespective of age will be expected to become acquainted with necessary knowledge and skills to be able to identify the signs of a conflict among the people in the society, particularly, at work places, where the problem of racism often causes conflicts. The knowledge acquired through the training will help citizens to decide on the appropriate methods and styles of dealing with these conflicts as they arise. Citizens will also be able to apply mechanisms of mitigating the effects of such conflicts by affecting as the third party.
Besides, leaders and anti-racial activists should strongly propagate the antiracist slogans and philosophies to any group that may be willing to listen to them. This is one of the ways through which the public can be sensitized to abandoning the practice of conflicts in the society, and instead employing harmonious means of coexistence. Through popularization of such philosopies, the society will realize that all people were meant to live together harmoniously and that all are equal before the law. Communities that have conflicts with others will also learn that these conflicts only cause retrogression in development.
Finally, the citizens should be able to apply various approaches of conflict management to help the disputants to resolve their conflicts amicably. The approaches are designed in such a manner that if well applied, the disputants will be guided through the process of contemplating their actions in terms of gains and losses of their disagreements. This will be helpful to propagate social cohesion among the people of the society.
Lessons that Race Equality Activists Can Draw from the Social Movements
The United States’ history would not be complete without mentioning social movements, with the help of which the civil rights activists can put forth their efforts to fight for equality. Studying the reasons, processes and the outcomes of several social movements, race equality activists could draw some vital lessons that would become the impetus in their quest for equality. First, the activists should learn that there is enormous power and strength in solidarity. This would be helpful in the occasions when activists would come together in a movement to advocate a certain change (Robin, 2015). For instance, the movement that basically spread throughout Southern states has produced many great leaders of today, as well as caused innumerable social changes that have been put in place for complete eradication of racial segregation. Notably, the civil rights movement helped the black American citizens with undying urge to pursue their ‘American dream’, as had once been proclaimed by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in his renowned speech ‘I have a dream’ (Massey, 1990).
Similarly, the activists should also learn that peace often speaks louder than violence. This is seen from the decision that famous anti-racial activists made to stage peaceful demonstration across the country. As a result, the peaceful movements led by the black civil rights activists gained support of an insignificant number of white reformists. Though the movement was non-violent, the activists displayed a rare boldness and relentless spirit to ensure their voices were heard by their oppressors. Through their daring spirit, the US underwent tremendous change that has hitherto been making America the most admirable place on earth (Pynchon, 1966).
Finally, race equality activists should learn that no law can be effective without good will of those who this law implement. This can be seen from the fact that the US Congress has been enacting vital laws with the aim of preventing the spread of racial discrimination, but so far, not much has been attained from these laws. It therefore means that despite the fact that laws are created for the benefit of the people, some people responsible for their implementation lack good will to bring the said laws to fruition. Until such a time when the US will be led by people who have political good will to fight the problem of racial discrimination, it seems to keep damaging the country.
The US civil rights movement played a significant role in combating racial discrimination. However, after not so many decades of the relentless struggle, there are still traces of racial prejudice witnessed in a number of sectors across the United States. Activism against race animosity in 1960s is still regarded as the turning point of the social, economic and political transformation as its plentiful fruits are being enjoyed by all citizens today. It is the sole responsibility of the current generation to safeguard the fruits of the long gone struggle and uphold the challenge of attaining a new level of success for the good of the future generations. The people of the United States should remember that it takes great effort and time to gain freedom, but only a moment is enough to lose it all. The worst thing is to witness the problem and its outcomes in various sections where cases of the representatives of minority races being deprived of their rights are still reported. This is a great disgrace and shame considering the transformations that have so far taken place in liberalizing America aimed at elimination of racial disintegration.