Racism is defined as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary 2010). African Americans historically have been discriminated against in the USA by the Caucasians. In the modern era racism has taken a more subtle form. Though by in large the situation has improved but, African Americans are still targets of racism in USA.
Many live under a misguided notion that racism ended after the civil rights movement of the 60s. Some even point out cynically that slavery was abolished in USA in 1865, thus, the lack of general progress shown by blacks in USA today is down to their outright “laziness”. Such statements themselves reflect racism. Barack Obama may have been chosen to lead this country by the people, but even he had to face racism during his campaign & still continues to battle racist threats (Potok 2008).
The reality is that racism is reflected in social structures, criminal justice system, attitudes & beliefs. White supremacists feel an inherent need to put Africans Americans back in place. Meanwhile others have racism embedded in their nature through upbringing, these individuals exhibit racism in subtle and anonymous manner, making it difficult to put the blame on them (Riphagen n.d.). Our criminal injustice system creates a situation in which African-American men have greater than a 1 in 4 chance of going to prison (compared to 1 in 23 for a Caucasians). The residential segregation, lack of healthcare, lack of educational opportunities & the fact that 26.5% African Americans live below the poverty line are proof of continued marginalization of blacks in USA (Prisonactivist n.d.).
Since 1865 the severity & nature of racism may have decreased, but racism is still prevelant in the American society. We may have inched closer to Martin Luther King Jr.s’ dream, but it far from a reality yet.
- Racism. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved May 15, 2010, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism
- Hatewatch, 2008, Feb 20th , Racist Attacks on Obama Growing More Heated , Retrieved 15th May 2010, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism
- Riphagen, L, n.d. MARGINALIZATION OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE SOCIAL SPHERE OF US SOCIETY, IJIS (vol-2 no-1 pp 5). Retrieved 15th May 2010 from, http://www.ijis.aau.dk/articles/vol5_no1/5_Linde_PDF.pdf
- Prisonactivist, n.d. AFRICAN-AMERICANS and the CRIMINAL INJUSTICE SYSTEM, Retrieved 15th May 2010 from, http://www.prisonactivist.org/archive/factsheets/racism.pdf