The given assessment will specifically focus on the problem of racism as a social justice issue and how it is addressed in contemporary culture today. Fairness is a core constituent of justice, and injustice occurs when one is not given equal opportunities as the other on an invalid basis. Racism has always been a major plaque in American history, starting with slavery and continuing even today in the form of systemic institutional racism. The core statement and thesis is that racial injustice is a highly persistent problem of American society and sociocultural structure, but there are identifiable ways to reduce its harmful effects and improve racial justice in the United States, which is convergence.
What is Racism?
Firstly, the term racism rightfully carries negative connotations because it was a culprit of many crimes against humanity, which is why it is important to define and understand what racism is as a concept. Racism was at the root cause of fascism in Europe, Nazism in Germany, and slavery as well as segregation in the United States. The term refers to an act of discrimination, antagonism, and prejudice by a group against another group on the basis of race and ethnicity. Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children” (King, 1991, p. 2). Therefore, a just society provides an equal basis and opportunity for every person, and thus, the outcome of such an individual is the result of a combination of luck and effort. However, an unjust society gives more privileges, opportunities, and help to certain groups without any basis on meritocracy. It is important to note that there are several core factors, which facilitate racism in the United States even today. It is stated that there are “seven factors that contribute to American racism:
- Passivism” (Roberts & Rizzo, 2021, p. 476).
The overall presence of these factors in the social life of modern America gives rise to racism in its current institutional and systemic form.
Social Injustice of Racism in America
Secondly, racism has deep roots in American history, and one can argue that America was founded on the back of racism and its cruelest manifestation of slavery, which is why it is important to understand its historical implication in order to find ways of prevention. Fields were plowed, plantations harvested, and railroads built by slaves brought from Africa and Asia as well as other parts of the world. Slaves were born, sold, and worked to death by their White masters for generations, and thus, it is naïve to assume that even the greatest achievements of reversal, such as The Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act, can undo the hundreds of years of slavery. In his famous speech, Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “now is the time to life our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood” (King, 1991, p. 2). He used the term “quicksand” in order to illustrate the inescapability and imperceptibility of racism as it devours livelihood, well-being, and justice from society’s vulnerable groups. Although the American society evolved and moved away from its racist foundations for good, racism itself did not disappear since it morphed and soaked into the American institutions leaving its footprint in legislative and social structures hidden from the plain sight of the majority and affecting millions of minorities’ lives.
Modern American Racism
Thirdly, it is important to note that modern-day racism in the United States is subtler, systemic, and institutional, which is why it is important to understand its modern dynamics in order to be able to solve it. Modern-day America openly condemns racism and any of its manifestations to the extent where people lose their jobs, livelihood and are publicly shamed for such behavior. Therefore, modern American racism is not as open as it used to be because it is not normalcy to have a mob of racists, and the latter invokes public outrage. In addition, African Americans and other groups technically have equal rights and freedoms as the White majority. Systemic racism means that minorities are discriminated against and oppressed by legal loopholes and intricately designed systems, such as housing, education, healthcare, judicial system, and policing, which are all built upon an unconscious bias against certain groups, such as African Americans. Thus, “biases are influenced by background, cultural environment and experiences, and we may not be aware of these views and opinions, or of their full impact and implications” (Tate & Page, 2018, p. 145). For example, healthcare is less accessible for African Americans, and high-quality education is less funded and less available in African American neighborhoods. For a long time, a mere presence of an African American homeowner in a neighborhood reduced the market value of the region, which shows that even market forces participate in enforcing systemic racism. In the lights of recent years, it became more evident that both the judicial system and policing almost openly discriminate against African Americans on the basis of race alone. Therefore, modern-day racism exists and is persistent in the form of institutional racism.
Countering Racism in America
Although racism pervades the American systems to their core, there is a way to solve the given social injustice issue. The answer can be found in O’Connor’s writing “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” which claims that White must recognize the rise of Black power and converge with them in order to build an ultimate society free of racism. The main protagonist is a prime example of a generation, which is ready to start the convergence process. The author writes: “now persecute us, of ahead and persecute us. Drive her out of here, but remember, you’re driving me too” (O’Connor, 1965, p. 45). In other words, the key part of the convergence is the unification with the African American community, even if it means going against one’s dearest parents and heritage. The author also writes: “the vision of the two hats, identical, broke upon him with the radiance of a brilliant sunrise” (O’Connor, 1965, p. 46). Therefore, this small yet important moment shows that despite the hatred expressed by both sides, there are similarities, which are only noticed by the new generation willing to converge rather than promote division. Therefore, racism cannot be combatted only by the groups, who suffer from it, which means the entire society must be willing to participate in bringing social justice in all aspects of social life, including personal, institutional, systemic, legal, and cultural.
In conclusion, racial injustice is a highly persistent problem of American society and sociocultural structure, and only convergence can reduce its harmful effects and improve racial justice in the United States. People judge what is just and what is unjust on the basis of equality, equity, and fairness. These terms are highly intertwined with each other, which means they cannot exist without their constituents. Therefore, a just society provides an equal basis and opportunity for every person, and thus, the outcome of such an individual is the result of a combination of luck and effort. However, an unjust society gives more privileges, opportunities, and help to certain groups without any basis on meritocracy. Issues of justice and fairness addressed in the texts mirrored in contemporary culture today through open and honest discourse.
King, M. L. (1991). I have a dream: Reading with questions for discussion and writing.
O’Connor, F. (1965). Everything that rises must converge. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Roberts, S. O., & Rizzo, M. T. (2021). The psychology of American racism. American Psychologist, 76(3), 475–487.
Tate, S. A., & Page, D. (2018). Whiteliness and institutional racism: hiding behind (un)conscious bias. Ethics and Education, 13(1), 141–155.