Race Relations in the USA - Essay Example

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Whether it was the mistreatment (to put it mildly) of the Native Americans in its earliest days, the dark days of slavery, the years of segregation after the Civil War or the World War II internment of the Japanese Americans, our nation has always been embroiled in issues related to race. …
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Race Relations in the USA
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Download file to see previous pages These days, most of our nation feels that racism and the connotations thereof are a thing of the past – we have Affirmative Action, which seeks to bring the nation’s ethnic minorities, especially the African Americans, out of the disadvantages a systematic discrimination has led them into, what is more today an African American is our nation’s President. Clearly, this shows that there is no systemic discrimination against the non-whites in our country, as the whites have ceded the power they once wielded. But just how true is that? Just a little inspection reveals that while it is true that there is no institutional racism in the United States, and overt racism is not tolerated at all, there are still racial undertones to almost all aspects of life. Admittedly, these racial undertones are present in relations between non-whites themselves as well, but while we cannot define the race relations completely, it is still a “white” issue. These days when most of the overtly racist tones of our country have been buried and when overt racist actions and speech are not only frowned upon, but also punished, there is a more pervasive form of inherent bias that exists within us. Most members of our society have implicit biases – which is to say that they have biases without consciously being aware of them. A lot of the time, people do react in a certain way when dealing with people of other ethnic communities without even realizing that they are showing a hidden bias. The Social Psychology Network has set up an Implicit Association Test online whereby they have assessed a large number of people regarding their hidden biases with regard to Whites and African Americans. The results of the tests are astounding: 73% of the total test takers show an automatic preference of varying intensity for White people, with only 16% of the test takers showing any kind of preference for the African Americans. The bias is so well hidden that we do not even know it exists, and yet the test results clearly show just how insidious and wide spread it is. Another factor that complicates race relations is the fact that we have a phenomenon called “White Privilege” that is very pervasive, but which we do not admit to. According to Robert Jensen, the United States is shaped by White Privilege; he talked to a conservative white student of his who also agreed that in a world run by white people both of them had often benefitted by the fact that they were also white (“White Privilege”). However, there is a trend to ignore the fact that the world is tilted to favor a certain race in our country, and there is still stress on there being equal opportunities for all citizens irrespective of caste or creed. According to Jensen this is the ultimate white privilege: “the privilege to acknowledge you have unearned privilege but ignore what it means” (“White Privilege”). This does not mean that white people abuse the rights of others to be where they are right now, but that there are doors that are opened to them more readily because of the color of their skin. Peggy McIntosh, in her essay “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” has not only talked about how there is need for us to address the white privilege, but has also identified and listed 50 things that she, as a white person, gets to experience, which other ethnic minorities do not get to experience most of the time. It is simply eye opening, to say the least, to read about all the everyday things where White people have an invisible advantage or privilege over members of other ethnic communities. For instance, according to the list, McIntosh can readily ignore “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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