Racial tensions have been at the forefront of societal discussions in the United States for a while now. Boundaries based on ethnic lines have barred progress in many areas of relevance especially social integration for minorities. The cornerstone of an exemplary representative democracy like the US hinges on the inclusivity and fairness of all its citizens. Once this is threatened, a nation’s integrity is compromised. Public relations paint a picture of a group overreacting to events within neighborhoods that harbor unlawful citizens, an attempt to ignore the problem. Racial discrimination is still an issue in the United States.
Denied Opportunities in Employment
One common theme observed in the job market is a disproportional number of Caucasians represented in the upper echelons of corporations. Discrimination based on skin color isn’t unheard of (Rankine 7). Hiring staff commonly overlooks people of color, especially for positions higher up the hierarchy. This eventually leads to top talent from minorities being denied chances to progress their economic position in the economy. Poverty eventually becomes generational with little to no reforms attempted to correct the issue; this can be observed in many minority groups where the average level of education is lower than the national average. Objectivity is also mitigated when the hiring practices are based on subjective qualities such as skin color rather than on skill set. Trust in the hiring culture reduces greatly, which only widens the rift within society.
Stereotypes are widely adopted ideologies and beliefs about specific types of individuals or groups. People of color are also subjected to many stereotypes, such as “all black people look the same” (Rankine 7). These assumptions are fueled heavily by the fact many individuals have been conditioned to cultural insensitivity. Nowadays, there is minimal public interference whenever racially abusive behavior is exhibited. Society has been conditioned to be numb to the point minority groups find such experiences as commonplace occurrences and habitable. Another contributing factor to this problem is the lack of accountability usually exhibited by individuals caught in the act (Rankine 7). Unfortunately, many members of minority groups aren’t educated well enough about their rights as citizens and hardly file reports.
Lack of Empathy Towards Minorities
Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand other people’s feelings, see things from their vantage points and perspectives, and imagine yourself in their place. Racial prejudice knows no age. Even the children of minorities constantly experience abuse on ethnic lines (Rankine 17). Children of minorities are exposed to these complex issues from a young age (Rankine 5), which undoubtedly shapes their psyches in unique ways by reaching adulthood. It is indeed sinister for any community to make its offspring the target of its problems. Institutionalized neglect is betrayed here, particularly towards the safety and constitutional rights of minority children.
Rules and principles are applied differently to two or more situations or objects of the same qualitative nature. Americans are treated fairly under the constitution is an inaccurate statement. Unlawful actions acted by minorities are usually overlooked only if their pursuit means implicating a member of the majority race (Rankine 5). However, if you are a person of color, the slightest of transgressions can land you into disproportionate amounts of police response (Rankine 00:02:12-00:02:15). Chances are higher that police will be called upon a minority even when they are seemingly going about daily activities (Rankine 15). Such conditions highlight racial rifts in American society.
Exclusion from Social Systems
Participation in the creation and functioning of an individual’s social system is essential in building a society that is democratically astute. Minority groups have faced the most discrimination from this constitutional right from as back as the Civil Rights Movement era. Exclusion from voting rights is a good example of this. The situation is further compounded when the authority figures are anything but partisan in exercising administration. Constantly overlooking the transgressions of others based on ethnicity (Rankine 6). Minorities have lost trust in a predominantly Caucasian-represented institution whose bias is constantly overlooked at their expense. Governments can not rule efficiently if any of their citizens are unsettled to the point of distrust.
Minority Populations Exhibit Signs of John Henryism
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event that one finds highly stressful. John Henryism is a coping mechanism for the stressful and damaging health impact of prolonged social stressors such as racial discrimination. Many minorities exhibit John Henryism as a response to the current racial divide in the country. Police brutality exposure, even among the youth population, exercises a heavy psychological toll. This is compounded by the fact that many of them feel like targets for unlawful law enforcement practices (Rankine 00:03:06-00:03:11). Minorities in the United States are more likely to exhibit traits of nervousness and depressive symptoms, a direct result of racial discrimination they are exposed to regularly.
Critics usually point to victimhood and high crime rates in minority groups as the main reason why social integration failed. The argument is that instead of channeling energy toward riots and other nefarious activities stereotypically associated with minorities, programs that promote social responsibility be implemented in these areas. Another opposing position is that the high rates of crime hinder the social integration of minorities. Factually this is supported by quantitative data. Neighborhoods with more minorities do register more criminal activity.
The opposing view mainly lays the blame on the victim of this situation. It is unavoidable that minorities feel like victims when their transgressions if any, are met with excessive force. Unjustified police calls when individuals are just going about their day-to-day activities don’t breed much social confidence from minority groups. Society has become desensitized to racial discrimination that the targets of this vice almost expect it.
Social integration is not dependent on crime rates but on the willingness of lawmakers and society in general to include all groups within the society. Crime is not committed by 100% of minority communities. Basic rights such as voting should not be mitigated on the grounds of crime rates in a given area. An analysis of past voting amendments also highlights a trend of voter suppression and vote dilution; these can be assumed as major contributing factors to social integration failing.
Racial discrimination has been an issue commonly handled by public relations in a bid to dilute the severity of the issue. Opposing positions from those in authority can not deny the fact that minority groups are still being discriminated against to this day. Social relations are key for the progress of any society; hence this issue is of great importance not only for this current generation but the one after it as well.
“Claudia Rankine’s poem ‘Stop and Frisk.'” YouTube, uploaded by PBS NewsHour, 2014, Web.
“From Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: Situation 7” YouTube, uploaded by Penguin Books UK, 2015, Web.
Rankine Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press, 2014.