Racism – Why is it Still a Problem and What Can We do to Stop it?
“Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. It is the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out,” (Pierre Berton). Racism is discrimination against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. Racism creates a divide in society which can affect many generations and still does. Jennifer Richeson, a Yale University social psychologist believes racism comes from what people see in their society and culture growing up. Richeson believes unless parents teach their kids not to be racist, they will be, and that racism simply comes from one’s environment. Racism can also come from ignorance according to author and social activist Kimberly Blaker. Blaker believes it is important to teach young children about diversity. Also reflecting the first cause, Blaker states, “Unfortunately, prejudice beliefs often stem from the home. So, advocates, teachers, and communities must take up the cause in teaching children to value diversity.”
However, there are several physiological factors that cause racism, such as fear. Psychologist and political advisor Dr. Reneé Carr says, “When one race of persons unconsciously feels fear in response to a different race group—fears that their own level of security, importance, or control is being threatened—they will develop these defensive thoughts and behaviors. They will create exaggerated and negative beliefs about the other race to justify their actions in [an] attempt to secure their own safety and survival.” Doctor Carr believes racism can simply be caused by feeling threatened and one’s brain makes up beliefs to secure their own safety. Racism has many negative effects on society, however as a society people can exterminate and prevent racism from further separation of communities. The three main effects of racism on our society are social tensions between not only different but same races, missed opportunity for minority races and distorted perception of actions by minorities.
One effect of racism is societal tensions within a society between not only different but same races. Michelle Singletray, a multiracial columnist for the Washington Post from Baltimore, Maryland describes the hardships she faced between her and her own family in her article titled, One of the Costs of Racism in American Society, “When I got a better job or bigger home, they (her family) tried to make me feel guilty about my success. And often I did feel bad.” Racism not only creates tension between other races, but within the same races. In Singletray’s case, her own family was not supportive of her higher goals. Agreeably, she believes the resentments such as the ones her family held dates to the days of slavery; slave holders would purposefully create tension among slaves by giving more luxurious privileges to lighter skinned slaves, therefore preventing unity. Racism also causes outside tension including things like race riots, like the ones in Baltimore in 2015 and racial barriers like racial profiling, which only further separates minority and majority races.
Racial profiling cripples our society severely as it is born out of purely negative stereotypes. Not only does racism cause tensions between same minority races, but also same majority races. Meghan Linsey is an American, country singer-songwriter that took a knee during the national anthem to stand up against the social injustices that have been occurring such as racism. According to Linsey, as she walked off the field, she got reactions ranging from some people in the crowd shouting ""thank you,"" to people booing her off the field. However, the tension that soon arose from her silent protest was threats against her life because she, a Caucasian woman from the south, would act against racism upsets them so much. The worst part of the entire experience for her was the people threatening simply for an act of free speech. But it is the same hate that so many other people in this country face simply because of the color of their skin daily. By taking a knee, she wasn’t protesting America or the flag; Linsey was protesting for the people the flag also represents, minority races.
Another effect of racism is missed opportunities for minority races. NBC published an article written by Andrew Arenge, Stephanie Perry and Dartunorro Clark on May 29, 2018 titled Poll: 64 Percent of Americans say racism remains a major problem. Paragraph three ends with, “72% of Americans think that racial discrimination against blacks is a serious problem.” Racism is a serious problem in American society because it creates a divide that makes it difficult for different races to coexists. Followed with the introduction to the fourth paragraph is, “Overall, a majority think white people benefit from advantages in society that black people do not have.” Especially in the workplace, there is a glass ceiling of sorts that prevents minorities from moving up to higher levels sometimes. Although, racism is not as big of a problem as it was 50 years ago, it is still showing its effects to this day. Most Americans see racism as a problem and it prevents not only African American people but all minority people from moving up in society. They are kept at the same level they were born into, with little if any upward movement.
This creates an ongoing cycle of poverty and overall loss of opportunities. This ongoing cycle of poverty and loss of opportunity can also lead to feels of anger and of disconnect from the rest of the world. On the United Nations’ website there’s an article posted called Vulnerable People, “Many people who live in extreme poverty are often also victims of discrimination on grounds such as birth, property, national and social origin, race, color and religion. Poverty is both a cause and a product of human rights violations. In 2001 the World Conference against Racism in Durban emphasized that poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion and economic disparities are closely associated with racism and contribute to the persistence of racist attitudes and practices which in turn generate more poverty.” In most societies people miss out on opportunities and basic rights just because of their skin color In certain places in the world there are discriminatory laws by the government and practices by its people that deny people of minority races the right to work, adequate housing and good healthcare.
A third effect of racism is a distorted perception of actions by minorities. Just as ideals of racism can be born out of fear, so can stereotypes which can affect the way actions by races of minority are seen. Sharon E. Watkins, a Christian minister, believes racism affects the way people react to others in situations. She gives the example of how people tend to perceive an action of a young white male and a young African American male. “Young white men smashing windows, overturning cars, and battling police after big athletic event are ‘revelers’ and ‘out-of-control fans.’ But a group of mostly African American youth who do similar things out of sorrow and rage that a young black man has died in police custody are dangerous ‘thugs.’” In this example, because a young African American was just born with a darker skin tone, his similar actions as a white male are seen as completely opposite. This leads to a cultural and societal divide because not only does make the African American feel discriminated against, isolated form the rest of society and targeted, but it creates tensions between minorities and the law enforcement. As law enforcement punishes African Americans differently than white offenders, they tend to feel discriminated against and like they cannot trust the very people that are supposed to protect them. Not to mention the motives behind their actions are different, as the young black males in this situation are just trying to get the justice and attention to raise awareness about the injustices being served to them, but the young white males are simply doing it because they’re overly excited. Not only are actions perceived by the majority races by minorities seen differently than what are, but vice versa.
As a society, people can take steps to change the point of view of members of society that were taught to believe other races are of lesser value to our society. Racism is taught, not genetics. Therefore, with that logic, it can also be taught that racism is wrong. However, the only way that will happen is if everyone, works toward it. In a fictional situation, if 80% of the world’s population works towards abolishing racism and healing the societal wounds racism has left, that 20% that for whatever reason isn’t helping solve this epidemic will cripple the entire movement. By not participating in this movement, it simply will not succeed worldwide and will most likely result in a rise of increase over time to only set society back to where it was in the beginning of the change, or even farther. The World Young Women's Christian Association (World YWCA) is a social movement working towards the empowerment of women, young women all around the world. They are working tirelessly towards, “eliminating racism and empowering women.” The World Young Women’s Christian Association believes if people support anti-prejudice organizations, discourage stereotypical jokes or assumptions, and are educated about other people’s cultures, as a society there would no longer be the same racial tensions born out of fear and ignorance.
Instead the youth of today, would see their community learning about each other and uniting and will soon follow. But how can this be done? I mean how can we, as a society, eliminate an idealism that has been part of cultures since before the 1500’s. It doesn’t matter if you are in volunteering, donating money or advocating for the discriminated against. By working with these anti-discrimination groups toward the same goal you and your community will see beneficial effects such as a decrease in racial discrimination behaviors because not only your voice, but the voices of the people you’re advocating for can make a big difference. Another way to work towards the elimination of racism is by discourage stereotypical jokes or assumptions and you can do that by standing up for the object of the joke and steering the conversation in another direction. Lastly, by educating oneself about other cultures the tolerance for them will be higher. A way to achieve that is by researching their culture, expanding social circles and eating the foods of their culture. Although these sound-like small steps to solve such a widely spread problem, with enough people participating racism will become a problem of the past.
Although to many people racism is perceived as a problem, to some people, racism is not a problem or entirely doesn’t exist. There are people in society that believe if one is born a certain race, they should be treated a certain way, and should deal with the way they get treated because of it. To many people in modern society, that may sound like a regressive way of thinking, but to others, it is simply a way of life. Those people believe that they should not change their way of thinking. Just how people of minority races are just born that way, one could compare it to someone that was born into a wealthy family. Someone born into a wealthy family would have access to certain privileges, whereas someone born into a middle-class family would not have, like a housekeeper. On the contrary, people born as a minority race are born with certain obstacles, they have to overcome in order to succeed in life rather than privileges, and people believe it is something they just have to accept and live with. However, the difference of someone born into a wealthy family and someone born as a certain race is someone’s race cannot be changed. This comparison goes to show that the circumstances people are born into shouldn’t determine their life and the way they get treated.
The three main effects of racism on our society are social tensions between same and different races, missed opportunity for minority races,and distorted perception of actions by minorities. Social tensions between same and different races occur within families and communities which can split not only societies but also families. Missed opportunity for minority races can cause negative tension between minority races and majority races, and it also creates an ongoing cycle of staying in the same societal and economic level. Lastly, distorted perception of actions by minorities can cause social tension as minorities aren’t given the same treatment as majorities. Racism causes tension in our society which prevents unity from ever occurring. As a society, if people support anti-prejudice organizations, discourage stereotypical jokes or assumptions, and are educated about other people’s cultures, there would no longer be the same racial tensions born out of fear and ignorance. These three things may be the solution to this problem. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where racism and other discriminations were obsolete?