Race And American Society Cultural Studies Essay

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Racism in the United States has been always been a major issue. Racial stratification still occurs today in employment, housing, education and government. Formal racial discrimination was largely banned in the mid-20th century, and it came to be perceived as socially unacceptable and morally repugnant as well, yet issues of racial nature have become more frequent since the Emancipation Proclamation Act during the early 1950s. These racial issues are aimed at individuals of all nationalities, cultures, and gender. People of African Americans seem to be mostly affected and are far from oppression because people of other races are constantly putting them down mostly by racial slurs and comments.

White Americans are by no means exempt from discrimination themselves, but it is less common. Blacks are four times more likely than whites to say they have been unfairly stopped by police, and twice as likely to say they have been insulted, threatened, or attacked because of their skin color. In the short essay written by Brent Staples, "Black Men Public Space", we see how Brent being an educated black man is often stereotyped as a thug or a mugger by people who are not of his race. Many people judge by the color of other people's skin or appearance. While Brent takes his usual daily stroll, he writes about how people lock their car doors or cross the street before they come close to him. Brent also writes about another example of stereotyping which concludes in racism; "Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of such violence".

Since the Civil Right Act passed in 1964 and 50 years later, race plays a very large role when it comes down to the way the public is treated. In some cases for example, some businesses will refuse to hire another person that differs from their own race. Another example of this is the use of racial jokes, comments and names. Even though there have been laws passed in order to help control racist acts, it has not changed the thoughts of many people today that still remain racist. Some hypocrites will claim to be anti-racist while they use racial slurs and nicknames in their daily vocabulary. Racism in America is alive, evident, and seems to continue to escalate without stopping.

This separation of racial relation occurs not only between blacks and whites, but overall every other race that is not white and all other races in America. In Christine Leong's short essay "Being a Chink", she writes about how her own father who is Chinese, had written the derogatory term for a person of Chinese descent. However, the racial relations between Asians and white Americans do not appear negative probably because we don't see Asians being highlighted on the six o'clock news.

Hispanics are not placed aside in the racial relations that continue to escalate against illegals who come to America in search of a better life. Today most Hispanics are viewed as criminals to the law simply because they are illegal in this country when in most Hispanics are here to give their children a better life style. Chicano children have been victims of racism as well as their Hispanic parents. The lack of education along with racial alienation in this country, have contributed to this lack of interest to be involved in education and living a positive lifestyle.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001 left nearly 3,000 people dead. Because those responsible for the attacks were from the Middle East, Arab Americans came under intense scrutiny in the U.S. and continue to be today. Arguments arose over whether Arabs in America should be racially profiled. Hate crimes against Middle Easterners rose markedly. Today, xenophobia against individuals from Muslim nations remains high. In the 2008 presidential campaign, a rumor spread that Barack Obama was Muslim to discredit him. According to Obama he is Christian, but just the insinuation that he was Muslim cast suspicion upon him. The bottom line to racial bias against President Obama is the he is of African American descent and has nothing to do with religion!

What accounts for such differences of opinion between whites and minorities? Certainly, most Americans today seem to detest bigotry and claim to support the ideal of racial equality. Yet, for some reason, most people of color see racial discrimination as an ongoing impediment, while a majority of whites believe that much of the problem of racial intolerance in the United States has been solved.

These biases, many point out, are evident in white people's reactions to people of color. Minorities report that whites are often anxious in their presence: Salesclerks follow them around in stores, worried that they might shoplift something; taxi drivers refuse to give them rides; police pull them over to check their cars for weapons or drugs; whites seem fearful when they have to stand near black or Latino men in elevators. Such occurrences, experts maintain, are often the result of negative racial stereotypes that have permeated American society for generations. These stereotypes include the beliefs that racial minorities are less intelligent and more prone to criminal behavior than whites are. People are exposed to such stereotypes early in life, and they can become part of a person's worldview even though he or she may genuinely believe that prejudice is wrong. "In America today, a child has only to breathe and listen and watch to accumulate the prejudices that govern ordinary thought in an everyday basis. Even without willful intention, with no active effort, a youngster absorbs the images and caricatures surrounding race. Nobody growing up in America can escape the assumptions that attach themselves to one group or another."

Racist attitudes, or prejudice, are still held by moderate portions of the U.S population. Members of every American ethnic group have perceived racism in their dealings with other groups. Racism is objectively defined as any practice of ethnic discrimination or segregation. Being racist means believing that there is only one superior race. These beliefs are a main cause in hate crimes, riots, fights, murder and other such outrages. Modern day racist relations and stereotyping people of other races are to blame.

Racism has been a major problem openly seen in society from the mid 1950's until this day. Citizens of this great democracy have to ask themselves more openly and frequently; why is it an issue of how dark or light you are? Why is it such a big issue with people who have inhabited this land since before America's democracy was even thought of, while not with any other races? Historic figures such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and the Black Panther movement all fought for the rights of African Americans to be treated as equal. African-Americans were discriminated against, segregated, beaten for their beliefs, and sometimes murdered because of something as simple as dating outside of their race. They were limited with their education and sometimes had to give up adulthood and their dreams. In 1954, the Supreme Court agreed that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, ruling that separate education facilities are inherently unequal and unfair. In 1955, a young African-American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the "colored section" on the bus to a white passenger, sparking a bus boycott, which lasted for more than a year. The buses were desegregated on December 21, 1956 as Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who was the newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association was instrumental in leading the boycott.

Racism is very much alive today and once again is in the spotlight. On February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old Florida high school student was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida in a gated community north of Orlando. The deceased was African American and the shooter is a Hispanic-white male. The shooter was questioned and released which has caused an uproar of protest and causes seeking justice. The shooter was accused of using a racial slur while on the 911 call which sparked some controversy, causing race to be the topic of discussion. Many believe that this case has set the movement of unity and equality back years. Regardless of the arguments of this case, it's in situations like this we realize racism still exists, not only because of accusations of that took place that night, but because of all the remarks from others viewing the situation from the outside just like us. The comments towards the victim and the shooter have been both positive and negative, giving us all an eye opener that we have a long way to go in coming together as one.

I feel racism is still active today, only it's not just towards the color of your skin anymore. Today people discriminate against religious beliefs, same sex marriages, skin color, dress codes, and so much more. We should all be entitled to live our lives the way we want to. For some reason, many feel they can dictate how a person should dress, wear their hair, speak, or walk. Discriminating against another because of having different beliefs won't help change the world we live in, but it will keep causing distractions from the things in the world that need changing.

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