Race and Ethnicity Relations in the United States Essay (Article)
The USA is one of the world’s most multinational countries. It is home too many individuals of African, European, and Asian descent, large Latino and Hispanic communities, Pacific Islanders, and, of course, native populations.
Additionally, there are multiple individuals of mixed origin who identify as having two or more ethnicities.
The issues of race and ethnicity in the United States have always been one of the central social, political, and economic questions.
Besides, these issues have served as the sources of major tensions in the country. In the past, the country has faced some extremely serious tragedies related to race and ethnicity relations such as slavery and racial segregation.
Today, these phenomena are referred to as known problems that are consistently battled. However, the issues continue to persist.
Boustan defined residential segregation as “the separation of racial groups in urban space” (319). Segregation is measured with the help of DI (dissimilarity index) that shows the differences in the racial composition of populations by areas.
Residential segregation in the US is a historical phenomenon that has been developing since 1900 (Settles par. 3). Initially, African-American laborers lived alongside their employers of European descent evenly scattered throughout the cities.
However, during the time’s World Wars I and II, the cities were re-planned enforcing segregation (Seitles par. 4). The division was supported politically through housing policies facilitating the emergence of ghettos deprived of capitals and opportunities.
Residential segregation is a common happening in the urban areas of the American cities that aggravate the tension between people of different ethnicities leaving the racial minorities disadvantaged and stuck in the poor districts (Meyerhoffer 379).
The populations that face the highest levels of discomfort are Latino and African-Americans, who are deprived of opportunities to find good jobs or gain high-quality education (Meyerhoffer 379).
The interviews with the American citizens of various backgrounds have demonstrated various points of view upon the phenomenon. Most interviewees agreed as to the unfairness of modern segregation. One individual expressed quite a radical opinion.
Michael, a 27-year old African-American, who had lived in several big cities such as Denver, Buffalo, and Detroit, stated that in the areas where he lived “you can walk miles in any direction without meeting a single white person.”
Al, a 49-year old Puerto Rican, mentioned that he grew up in a segregated area of Brooklyn, New York where he was discriminated against by the residents of Italian background as they were “the white folk of the district.”
Al’s statement demonstrated that the division into superior and inferior communities based on ethnical origin existed within the segregated areas and victimized Latino and African-American populations.
The interviewee who stood out due to his opinion was Chris, a 40-year old European American, who did not seem to be aware of the intentional segregation and referred to African-Americans as people who lack organization and therefore, live in poverty.
In fact, Chris compared African-Americans with the residents of African countries emphasizing that poverty and disorganization are the common factors that have occurred due to the “nature” of this race.
It is noteworthy that answering question 4 about racism, Chris stated that he did not consider himself a racist and did not believe that there were superior and inferior races.
Biased Law Enforcement System
It is frequently claimed that the American society currently lives in the “post-racial” era and that racial biases are no longer existent. In other words, the claim is that no citizens are mistreated based on race and ethnicity.
At the same time, incidents such as the one that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri are rather common. The diverse communities of the United States recognize the presence of policing bias (Morales par. 3).
As mentioned by Morrison, the survey conducted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights revealed that 55% of Americans admitted that people of color were more likely to be targeted by the police than European Americans (par. 4).
ACLU notes that racial profiling is the reason for the alienation of the communities from the police and the tension between different groups of the population (par. 1).
For instance, the populations who are targeted commonly tend to lose trust in the police and law enforcement in general. Moreover, racial profiling and policing frames the targeted populations as dangerous (Morales par. 4).
Most of the interviewed individuals admitted being aware of unfair policing and unreasonable targeting of Latinos and African-Americans by the police. Almost everyone mentioned the case of Ferguson.
Kendra, a 23-year old African-American woman, noted that her family members (males mainly) were often pulled over by the police and sometimes even searched without any visible reasons apart from being African-Americans.
Ashley, a 30-year old African-American expressed her concern as to the profiling practices and the effect it produces on the American citizens who are led to believe that Latinos and African-Americans are dangerous.
Ashley also mentioned reading about multiple cases of African-American people being ignored for knocking on the doors of their neighbors to ask for help and one case where a woman was shot for doing that.
The modern popular culture is another focus of constant debates as to the issues of race and ethnicity.
Being in the center of public attention on a daily basis, the celebrities tend to have a lot of power are able to produce massive impact communicating certain points of view.
Reese presented a collection of the most memorable racism pop culture moments of 2014 that included such celebrities as Katy Perry, the Kardashians, Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani, among others (par. 1-10).
Unfortunately, racist incidents that mainly occur due to the ignorance of the perpetrators are quite common. In most cases, the authors of offensive music videos, posts, or statements fail to consider the impact they may produce.
Today, social diversity receives more recognition than just a couple of decades ago. However, as stated by Cuby, for the racial and ethnic minorities, it is still rather difficult to enjoy popular culture (par. 4).
First of all, this tendency occurs because race is often joked about in a diminishing way (Cuby par. 11). Secondly, race and ethnicity are stereotyped on TV which is offensive to the people who belong to the marginalized communities and cultures.
Speaking about their experiences with racism in modern popular culture, European American interviewees found it difficult to identify such situations.
At the same time, people of color mentioned many. For example, Kevin, a 32-year old Asian-American stated that he utterly disliked popular TV shows such as “Friends”, “How I Met Your Mother”, and “The Big Bang Theory”.
Kevin’s opinion was based on the fact that all of these shows focused on the lives of white people failing to portray the real America.
Michael also said that African-Americans represent comedic and unimportant characters in most shows. Kendra noticed that in her opinion, “the most stereotyped people on TV are blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and Russians.”
Having a massive power of public speaking, the media enforce and support offensive stereotypes targeting a multitude of cultures and ethnicities.
Relations between Different Ethnicities
At the end of the 20th century, the rates of individuals of different races having only friends and partners of the same race were very high (Page-Gould par. 6). This tendency persisted among the European Americans the most.
The same dynamics were typical for marital and romantic relationships as the European Americans had the lowest rate of being together with a partner of another ethnicity (Page-Gould par. 9).
Among the interviewees, almost everyone admitted having had experiences with diverse partners, the only exception was a European American respondent Emma.
However, only two of the respondents of color said they had partners of European background.
Moreover, one of them noted that he felt self-conscious dating a blonde woman with blue eyes because he constantly thought that “she could do so much better”. This comment was directed at the fact that he was a man of color.
Modern society does not live in the “post-racial” era as racial stereotypes are present in policing and law enforcement, popular culture, residential patterns, and interpersonal relations.
Policies battling the prejudice exist alongside with tendencies that maintain them. That is why the phenomenon continues to persist and result in tension between people of diverse backgrounds.
ACLU. Racial Profiling. 2016. Web.
Boustan, Leah. Racial Residential Segregation in American Cities. 2013. Web.
Cuby, Michael. How to Enjoy Pop Culture When You’re Black. 2015. Web.
Meyerhoffer, Cassi A. “I Have More in Common with Americans Than I Do with Illegal Aliens”: Culture, Perceived Threat, and Neighborhood Preferences. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1.3 (2015): 378–393.
Morales, Alba. Why are US police departments still race-biased? 2015. Web.
Morrison, Aaron. Racial Profiling Laws: Most US Residents Want a Ban On Biased Policing; Will Federal Government Prohibit Practice? 2015. Web.
Reese, Ashley. The 11 Most Racist Things That Happened In Pop Culture This Year. 2014. Web.
Seitles, Marc. The perpetuation of residential racial segregation in America: historical discrimination, modern forms of exclusion, and inclusionary remedies. 1996. Web.
Page-Gould, Elizabeth. Research on Cross-Race Relationships: An Annotated Bibliography. 2004. Web.
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