Racial discrimination means different kinds of marginalization based on race, color, nationality, or ethnic origin for the purpose of nullifying or negating the dignity and rights of people. The victims of racism are often fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, and other fields of public life. Every developed country attempts to eliminate racial discrimination with the help of several international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, racial discrimination in Western countries remains an urgent political issue, especially in the United States. Foreigners are alienated and oppressed simply because of the color of their skins. The aforementioned discrimination is a current problem in the United States. Though racism is deeply ingrained in American culture and history, it should still be opposed in pursuit of justice, equality, and human dignity.
Historical Background of the Problem
In the US, racism has existed since the founding of the country. The first victims of racism in the United States were the indigenous inhabitants of the continent. Later on, black Africans were transported to America as slaves for a number of economic reasons. Nominally, colored slavery was abolished in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln. In 1865, the 13th amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution (Primary documents in American History, n. d.). However, it was not eliminated. For more than 100 years, blacks did not have the same rights as whites. Up to 60-ies of XX century, in every state there was a so-called “Jim Crow laws” which severely restricted the rights of African-Americans (Jim Crow laws: Tennessee, 1866-1955, n. d.). They lived and studied separately. There were “white space” in the transport. Not all stores served blacks. In order to vote, black people had to pass a literacy test, such as to recite the text of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence from memory. Only thanks to the powerful liberation movement of the 1950s and 1960s, that Martin Luther King was the leader of, “colored” Americans eliminated racial segregation laws (Van Lieu, n. d.). Now, people should avoid the word “Negro” or the more offensive form Nigger. Instead, they should say African American or black.
There are different manifestations of racial discrimination, but the most obvious is racial segmentation. Racial segregation is a shameful part of history of the United States, with is demonstrative of the politics and ideas of the time. The United States adopted its policies of discrimination from other nations and races. Consequently, they created all kinds of cruel laws. The ridiculous system of racial segregation was preserved in the USA until the beginning of 1960s (Van Lieu, n. d.). At that time, black people had to stand up and give their seats to white citizens in the bus. After a long struggle, racial segregation was abolished in 261 cities as a result of people standing up against it. However, while the government formally abolished the separate but equal policies, the traditionalistic, racist white population was not ready for change. Racial segregation remains in the US up to these days. Black Americans are often deprived of their voting rights or restricted on the basis of such factors as place of residence and period of residence in a given place. Some states use a system of “test-wisdom” at the time of registration of black voters. As a result, they can be asked such strange and unreasonable questions like How much foam can be made from a single piece of soap? or How many windows are there in the White House? Those who do not respond to these questions are not allowed to vote. Additionally, individuals can also be prevented from voting if they were sentenced to prison. Consequently, 13% of black men and one in seven black Americans do not have a right to vote (Van Lieu, n. d.). The system of punishment in the USA is more severe for black Americans than the white ones. Different races are not punished identically for the same crimes. Black people can be sentenced for up to 5 years in prison for possession of as little as 5 grams of drugs, while a white man gets the same punishment only if he has 500 grams of the same drug.
According to the statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate among black people is 2 times higher as compared to the whites, and the number of blacks who suffer from hunger is 3 times higher (Feeding America, 2017). The department of US census released the results of a research regarding the poverty levels of different racial groups in November 2013. The results were the following: 11, 1% of whites, 25, 4% of blacks, 28.2% of Latin Americans, and 16.7% of Asians suffered from poverty. Every fifth Latin-American is malnourished and 1 in 20 is in a constant state of hunger and disease. Moreover, 84.000 blacks do not receive proper treatment (Feeding America, 2017). Greater attention should be paid to the fact that black women have 4 times higher maternal mortality than white women. Half of those recently registered as infected wih AIDS were black women.
Additionally, blacks and Latin Americans pay two or three times more for rent than whites in California. According to the national survey conducted by the Pew Research center, 43% of black respondents were dissatisfied with the gap between blacks and whites in economic life (Pew Research Center, 2016). Speaking about students, more than half of black and Latin American students were expelled from colleges in California and other US States in connection with the effects of racial discrimination, and only 2.3% of black students were enrolled in college (Pew Research Center, 2016).
Internet site the Huffington Post in an article on October 23, 2013 depicted a story about a black student named Christine who was mistakenly accused of stealing by a shop assistant when Christine bought a leather belt for $350 (Pew Research Center, 2016). Even after she showed a proof of purchase and her ID to the police to prove her innocence, the police dragged her to the police station for questioning. Her lawyer admitted that her only crime was that she was black. What is more, the Los Angeles Times in the article on December 2, 2013 writes about racial discrimination of fire fighters of the Department of Los Angeles during the hiring and working processes. Taking into account the aforementioned information, one may state that Black and Latin Americans suffer greatly from various levels of discrimination in the USA.
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Racial oppression is an extreme form of racial discrimination. It is a criminal offence, which entails such dangerous results as the extermination of other races. Racial oppression falls under the category of “massive ethnic cleaning” and has become one of the most horrific crimes, a synonym for hatred and condemnation. It is the worst indicator of the situation of human rights in the United States.
Racial oppression is committed by violent groups as well as police and judicial authorities in the United States, which in theory are supposed to work on eliminating all forms of racial discrimination. 1800 terrorist groups are at the forefront of racial oppression under the control of the US administration (National Counterterrorism Center). They include the Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Association, and other terrorist and gang organizations (National Counterterrorism Center). 6 million black workers were detained, tortured, and killed by these terrorist groups in the United States. According to the statistics, at least 136 unarmed African Americans were killed by the police and security forces in 2012 (National Counterterrorism Center). In the same year, a 24year old black boy was killed by the police officer who arrived on a call when the young people asked for help after a car accident (National Counterterrorism Center). Moreover, a 25 year old black woman was attacked by two white police officers because she was unable to pay a fine.
These incidents became the spark that led to mass protests and demonstrations against racism in the United States. There was a wave of such protests in many cities, including New York, Washington, Detroit, and Los Angeles.
Barack Obama held an emergency meeting at the White House in order to curb these protests. He stated that it was necessary to change the behavior of the police. However, the only thing they did was install miniature cameras on the troopers uniforms. Consequently, they spent several hundred million dollars on it without a visible result. One may say that racial oppression in the United States is the result of policies of racial discrimination on the part of the US administration, which cannot be overcome simply by the installation of such miniature cameras.
Racial discrimination is a significant issue that should be thoroughly analyzed today. Many individuals believe that this problem needs an immediate solution. Speaking about the USA, racial discrimination is a problem that touches all spheres of social life. Taking into account the fact that the USA is a diverse country and it has people of different nationalities, racial discrimination has to be reduced. Racial discrimination has the biggest impact on Black and LatinoAmericans. They constantly suffer from different kinds of offences. That is why the government has to take measures and control the level of racial discrimination in the country. All people deserve good treatment regardless of their nationality. Human rights should be the issue number one for every government around the world.