America is a country that has been described in many occasions as a melting pot. This term has often been understood to mean that various cultures are brought together and are tolerated. By implication, cultural and ethnic tolerance should mean that every person is treated equally and fairly. But the situation tends to be different as there is evidence of racism across the society. This report briefly discusses the experiences of African, Latino, Native, and Asian Americans with a view to comparing and contrasting their experiences with racism.
When you read that black children are less likely to get higher education than the white children (American Ethnicity, p. 103), you appreciate that racism is not a thing of the past. It is still here with us. The African Americans are synonymous with a past of slavery. They were subjected to inhumane treatment by White Americans who saw them as lesser beings; giving them the justification to categorise them as slaves. The perception was that the African American (the Negro) is inferior in mental capacity, moral standing, and physical abilities to the White person (American Ethnicity, p. 105). There have been many attempts to challenge this with the civil rights movement of the 1960s asserting that African Americans are equal and deserve respect and all rights due to them. However, there is still a general perception driven even through simple things like television programs where the whites are continually depicted as being superior to the blacks.
The modern day African American is no longer a slave. They have more rights in terms of expression, access to economic opportunities, access to education, right to participate in political processes, and a more general feeling of safety. However, they are still discriminated against when compared to the white population in terms of employment and other economic opportunities (American Ethnicity, p. 147). An example can be drawn from the justice system where the average African American is seen as being vulnerable and more likely than a white person to be convicted of a crime. The prison complex challenge provides insights on how the African American and other minority races flock the prisons unfairly instead of the social challenges they undergo being addressed as a challenge. For instance, drug abuse and trafficking could be addressed as a social ill and handled more humanely be searching for better solutions. Instead, it is criminalised for purposes of decimating this section of the society where hundreds of thousands of productive young people are sent to prison.
The black community has come a long way. It would be difficult to discuss race relations without pointing out that the USA currently has a black president. To some extent, this shows how far the society has come where a community that was once enslaved can have one of them as president. However, the culture of racism is still prevalent with President Obama often having to ward off various forms of racist attacks (Racist America, p. 166). This proves that the blacks are yet to be accepted by some sectors of the society as equals in spite of the political power they may have garnered over time.
Latino Americans are, like African Americans, perceived to be inferior to the white population. Their way of life is regarded as being inferior and there have even been incentives for them to discard it in favour of the ‘American way’ which is basically the culture of the white Americans. Even though they were not subjected to slavery, Latino Americans tended to be very poorly paid and could only afford to live in deplorable states in slums across the USA.
One of the main challenges they face today is still related to the question of lifestyle and their ability to afford certain services. For example, Latino mothers will often give up on pursuing prenatal care because they are unable to afford to pay for it (American Ethnicity, P.198). This, in addition to being a risk to the lives of the babies, becomes a disincentive for them to want to raise children. It is an element that suppresses population growth in this group. The lack of money also translates into them being unable to afford healthy living places.
The deplorable conditions that Latino Americans lived under led to an increase of social challenges such as drug trafficking and abuse as well as insecurity challenges (American Ethnicity, p. 200). These would be some of the most unsafe residential areas in the USA and the police would invest little resource or time to try and keep the neighbourhoods safe. The neglect led to the quality of life being poor, increased risk of diseases, and low life expectancy in general. For instance, a study on the cause of death for children between 1 and 14 years was found to be unintentional injury (American Ethnicity, p. 198). This paints a grim picture on how unsafe the residents occupied by these Latinos really are.
The Native Americans were the original inhabitants of America before different groups of immigrants started coming in (American Ethnicity, p. 151). They owned the expansive tracks of land that is now the USA and would often live them uninhabited as a way of preserving them for their wild horses and other forms of wildlife. This, to the white settlers, appeared to be a signal that the land was idle and up for the taking. They sought to practice the kind of land use that they’d been accustomed to in Europe. They sought to ‘civilise’ the Native Americans. With no regard for the original owners of the land, the White settlers moved in to divide the land into plantations hence changing ownership. This led to a confrontation with the Native Americans with the latter being driven out of their land. Subsequent killings left these Natives almost completely wiped out. The Native Americans therefore have a bitter past in terms of ill treatment by the White Americans.
In the present day, the Native Americans are like other non-white races: largely ostracised and locked out of many social and economic opportunities. They are still referred to using demeaning and derogatory images. For instance, movies will often portray the Natives as savages; hence creating an air of danger around them (American Ethnicity, p.163). Even though this could be seen as minor because they are just movies, it is important to appreciate that this view is consistent with what the dominant white group wanted them to project about them. They also tend to be presented as something un-American where they have big noses and pot-bellies (American Ethnicity, p.165). This presents them as some forms of strange and perhaps less witty and lazy characters who shouldn’t be entrusted with positions of economic or political importance.
The Asians are more successful economically than the other minority groups discussed in this course (American Ethnicity, p. 262). They include Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino Americans among others. This group was often seen as a threat to the Whites because they were considered to be intelligent and hardworking. An example is Vincent Chin, a charismatic and creative actor who rose as high as to be nominated for Oscar Awards in 1987. Vincent Chin was killed by 2 well-known White Americans who never got convicted for their crime. This was an example of a case of the system regarding this Chinese American as lesser than his murderers hence the murderers didn’t need to hang for their crime.
Traditionally, the progress of Asian Americans was inhibited where systems to limit their prosperity and acquisition of economic and political power were put in place. One of the most ridiculous cases was people being locked out of job opportunities because they have funny accents. It is recorded in American Ethnicity (p. 234) that Asians would often be unable to secure jobs because they were yet to master the ‘American accent’. This points to an attempt by the dominant white group to use their influence over the economy to assimilate and possibly impose their culture on the non-whites.
The Asian Americans from the Arab world tend to feel the brunt of societal challenges related to terrorism. They are often victimised or generally viewed with suspicion where an air of fear and intolerance tends to follow them (American Ethnicity p. 277). It is a development that has been brought about by the rising threat of terrorism around the world. By being Muslim, these Arab Americans are often made to feel out of place and this exclusion is expected to affect how they relate to others; and even to the ability of them accessing various amenities within the country.
The main similarity between these groups is that they are all seen as being inferior to the White American group. Even though they have been in the USA as long as or even longer than their white counterparts, they are seen as the outsiders. Their cultures are seen as inferior and this has gone as far as seeking a white identity for America. Even though these groups will often dispute the fact that USA has the white identity, the dominant white group sees it as such.
The second similarity between these groups is that they are all actively discriminated against by the dominant white group. The genocide of the Natives or the enslavement of the African Americans is no longer an active policy. However, they are still exposed to deplorable living conditions through neglect and deliberate downgrading of areas where they live by neglecting important infrastructure or neglect of security. When compared to the white population, these minority races tend to be at a disadvantage even when it comes to economic and social opportunities. An example can be drawn from Racist America (p. 143) where people applied for jobs and a study showed that those with names that appeared to be white were 50% more likely to be contacted. The white Americans manage to secure jobs with greater ease than the non-whites. They therefore do not have to work as hard as the other races to make it in life.
Another similarity is the differences in pricing and access to certain services. In a study that involved Latinos, Blacks, and Whites, testers were looking for insurance covers. In this study, it was established that there is some form of racial discrimination on insurance cover where the whites tended to be granted the most favourable terms as compared to the Latinos and the Blacks (Racist America, p. 175).
There’s also one thing that ties these minorities together: the issue of self-pride. Self-pride refers to one being happy and proud of their culture (American Ethnicity p. 152). The blacks have continued to uphold their culture to an extent that certain elements such as the pop-culture and accents are being adopted even by a section of the white population. The same can be said of the Native Americans who have come together to fight against poor images of them being used in the media and public functions. Virtually every minority group appears to be identifying what makes them stand out and are embracing it aggressively. This translates into the White American attempt of assimilation failing. In the future as these minority groups grow in numbers and influence, it is even less likely that the White identity will hold.
The differences are significant in the sense with which these minority groups are treated. By being able to use their population size in spearheading the rights of minority groups, the African Americans have been able to raise their cultural profile to a certain degree. The Arab Americans are also noted to have overcome many of the hurdles in their path and are seemingly doing better than the rest of the society. While the average number of Americans with a degree is 24%, the Arab Americans have 41% of their adult population with a university degree (American Ethnicity, 287). This is a very high percentage and it signifies a possible growth in political and economic power for some of these minority groups.
The minority groups in the USA have all suffered discrimination. These forms of discrimination have tended to cut across. Instances such as being denied employment opportunities have been common with the White Americans more likely to access employment opportunities more than any other group. However, some groups have been able to overcome this problem. For instance, the Arab Americans appear to be more educated than most other groups. There is also a unique challenge when it comes to terrorism where Asian Americans from Muslim regions appear to be subjected to unnecessary suspicion and harassment. In spite of these slight differences, the racist experiences undergone by each of these minority groups are quite similar with differences being only slight.