Racism is an issue that has been prevalent within America for hundreds of years. We overcame slavery with the help of famous American leaders like Abraham Lincoln and fought for equal rights with the help of Martin Luther King Jr. Today we face the issue of a more discreet kind of racism- the kind of racism that is more felt than heard. A sales associate who may not ask a customer to leave because of the color of their skin, but follows the customer around the store to make sure he or she isn’t stealing is an example of discreet racism.
This type of racism is harder to fight because it is harder to recognize than outward discrimination. It seems as though minorities, especially African-Americans, have a disadvantage from the time they are born. According to Leondar-Wright, “The median white family has more than $120,000 in net worth (assets minus debts), while the median black family has less than $20,000. ” There are many reasons why black families’ net worth is so much lower than white families’, but among the most obvious reasons is discrimination. Children from low-income families tend to have more responsibilities than those from middle or high-income families.
These responsibilities may take away from time spent on schoolwork. For example, if a fourteen year old must work to help pay household expenses because his or her parents are having trouble making ends meet, it is highly possible that time spent working could be taking away from time spent doing schoolwork. Even if a student does not have to work while in school, it is still possible that his or her parents (if the student is lucky enough to live with both their mother and father) work hours that would render him or her responsible for extended amounts of housework.
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Either way, it is likely that a low-income, minority student must work much harder than a middle or high-income student to achieve the same academic status. If and when African-American students are accepted into college, it is much harder for them to be granted a loan to help pay for their college education. Because loans are given based on current income to debt ratio, banks are more weary of lending money to low-income families for fear of not getting their money back. Even in college, many African-American students must work to support themselves, which takes up time.
Time spent working, again is time that they could be using to study. Because of all the obstacles they face, African-American students must work much harder to accomplish the same achievements as white students. Once in the work place, whether it be after college or not, African-Americans still must work harder than Whites to attain the same level of success. Simply finding a job can prove to be a challenge for minorities. The old saying, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ holds true for the job finding process.
For many minority young adults, parents and relatives who may be able to assist in the job search have fewer connections than white families. Therefore, students from low-income families must work harder to find jobs than many students from white or middle-class families. Even the simple process of applying for a job proves to be yet another hurdle for minorities. In the essay ‘Institutional Discrimination’ by Robert Cherry, the term “statistical discrimination” is brought up.
Statistical discrimination is referred to as “the process by which individuals are discriminated against when firms use group characteristics to screen individuals. ” Because employers often have a large amount of applications to go through to fill one or just a small amount of positions, they often base their choices off ‘of group characteristics rather than individual information. ’ Because employers do not want to spend a lot of time screening potential candidates, they chose to discriminate against groups of people that, in their minds, are not as productive as others.
According to a study by Irons and Moore, African-American workers tend to be left out of the “informal communications network. ” This basically means they are left out of water cooler conversations that may provide valuable information to them pertaining to their work. The study also found that on average, it took much longer for African Americans to be promoted than their White co-workers, and that “They had to demonstrate over and over and over again that they were worthy of promotion. (Cose 78) Overall, the study found that success came later, harder, and at a lower degree for Blacks than Whites in America.
Another point mentioned in Coses’ ‘Rage of a Privileged Class’ is something called the “self-fulfilling prophecy” (Cose 88), which basically states that performance is greatly based on expectations. For example, if someone believes they are expected to perform well at a particular task, they will most likely perform better than if he or she is expected to perform poorly. This concept can easily be applied to the classroom setting.
If a teacher expects her white students to perform better than her minority students, this can have a great effect on her student’s performances. While racism is still an issue in the United States today, the main problem can be traced to the issue of class discrimination. The majority of minorities come from low-income families; “Poverty rates for Blacks (at 24. 3%) in 2006 were 16. 1% higher than Whites (at 8. 2%). ” (H. T. Edney) Once born into a lower class family, your life will be filled with uphill battles and constant struggle.
Lower class citizens are discriminated against everywhere in the United States. Banks hesitate to lend money to low-income students going to college, even though they must work harder to get into college than upper class students. Because they must work harder, low income students are more likely to appreciate the opportunity given to them and less likely to take advantage of any help he or she may receive along the way. If you are a lower-class African-American reading this essay, you may be wondering who today’s Martin Luther King Jr. ill be, or if there will be anyone from our generation who will pioneer for your rights.
On the other hand, if you are a white, upper-middle class person reading this essay, you may not find racism to be an especially important issue in our society today. No matter your particular situation it is an inarguable fact that the socioeconomic class you are born into will become the chief factor in determining how far you will be able to go in life. Whether this is a good thing or not, may be up for some debate.
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