Race in America
At the turn of the last century, WEB Dubois wrote, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, --the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. Every study has come to the same conclusion that biologically, there are no 'races', yet the social construction of race as a category is alive and well today. The classification system, which radicalized different groups - typifying them according to their skin color and/or other defining features has a long history. With the advent of colonialism, racism underpinned the different and negative valuations attached to skin color. The racism of today is much more subtle and is no longer the blatant discrimination based on the color or your skin. It exists within the institutions of our society. It is the combination of government, corporate and media institutional racism that is largely responsible for the inequities of today. Unfortunately, these divisions impact the way in which we live our life and how we advance socially. Race has always been a complicated subject and is inevitable. Although we have made tremendous strides to dismantle the foundations of racism, it is clear and evident that racism still persists within the institutions of our society.
I believe that America is one of greatest countries on the earth and it is a land of opportunity for everyone. The American dream is alive and well and many people of all races have had tremendous success. With these positives in place, it is no wonder why there have been so many incredible achievements by African Americans in the 21st century to include the obvious - the first black president. Over the years there has been much success in trying to dismantle discrimination against different races. By the time the modern civil rights movement arose during the mid-20th century, subjugation had prospered for nearly three hundred years. It was precisely this legalized subjugation that was the major target of the modern civil rights movement. Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954; Rosa Parks sat down in a Montgomery bus in 1955; the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in 1963; and in an exhilarating five year period, three federal laws were passed-the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968-that taken together established a legal framework for racial justice. Over intense, opposition, the civil rights movement had succeeded, by 1968, in dismantling the legal structure of Jim Crow laws and replacing it with a legal structure designed to ensure equality and dismiss discrimination on all levels. Although these laws were very successful, you will still find racism within the institutions of our society. This “institutional racism” impacts every aspect of life in the 21st century from schooling to employment. It forms an invisible barrier that is hard to comprehend among all ethnic groups. Racism in our institutions can enter in every part of a person's life and make it extremely difficult to advance socially, financially or politically. What is even worse is that racism does not just affect individuals; it affects entire communities and has an affect African American progress in the 21st century. These divisions in society create a whole cycle. If you don’t get the same job opportunities, you cannot afford the same education as some others, which lead to poor decisions because you don’t know any better. It is not because they are inferior; it is because they do not have the same opportunities because of racial prejudice. Racism is present in government bodies, private business corporations, and universities. Redlining is a clear example of how institutional racism is present in our society. The ability of Banks, mega-corporations, and major financial institutions top pick winners and losers has setup a system of vast inequality between poor black communities and the middle class. Many of these private businesses use redlining to systematically shut minorities out of business opportunities, healthy food choices and banking options. Another example of how we see race in our society today is through college admissions. One of the first things we are asked to fill out in our applications is what race we are. Affirmative action has been created that takes factors such as race, gender, religion, into consideration in order to benefit an unrepresented group in education. This policy has been taken place in order to counter the effects of past discrimination. Although this seems like a good policy to equalize educational opportunity, it can also presents controversies on how different races are treated. For example, Abigail Fisher a white Texan was denied admissions into the University of Texas while less qualified Latinos and African Americans were accepted. University of Michigan's college applications you automatically receive 20 points out of 100 if your black. The policies presented in the institutions of our society clearly present how race discrimination is still evident in our society. Because we have been so ingrained with racial differences it is hard to escape, we need to be willing to hold equal values for everyone in order to truly see change. As another major institution in society, the media plays a critical role in racial discrimination. They provide us with definitions about who we are as a nation; they reinforce our values and norms; they give us concrete examples of what happens to those who transgress these norms; and most importantly, they perpetuate certain ways of seeing the world and peoples within that world. Racism has been evident in media for quite some time and has influenced many people. Birth of the Nation by D.W. Griffith was one of the many ways that displayed African Americans as inferior. The film featured two themes in which suggested that the KKK had been responsible for quelling the unrest in the South after the civil war, and that African Americans were the cause of all the problems in the United States. “Griffith seared images of degraded images into the minds of millions. A whole new generation of consumers of American mass media was fed the same old stereotypes of shape images of African Americans” (Lee Baker). Even as it did back then, the media still plays an important role in reinforcing our thoughts about racial inferiority. Today the Media have divided the working class and stereotyped young African-American males as gangsters or drug dealers. As a result of such treatment, the media have crushed youths' prospects for future employment and advancement. The media have focused on the negative aspects of the black community (e.g. engaging in drug use, criminal activity, welfare abuse) while maintaining the cycle of poverty that the elite wants. Because we have been brainwashed by racism in media for so long, it has affected the way we view people today and has created divisions in our society in the 21st century. The 21st Century has brought about many attempted changes in society. There is legislation against discrimination in its many forms. Affirmative action has been used as an attempt to ensure individuals are given equal opportunity for employment, housing, and other types of advancement. Television shows have changed format and characters to seek political correctness. Nevertheless, society cleverly and subtly maintains its separate views of the races. With this the racism in the institutions in our society such as the in the media or education, makes it extremely difficult for certain people to advance in life. There will always be those who will fight for change while others resist, seeking to maintain the status quo. But overall there can still be no improvement unless many individuals work together for equality.