This country was originally built on the core values of equality, freedom, and justice, for all…. if you are White. America has been facing an upward battle trying to diminish this ideology that has long haunted our country, particularly ethnic minorities. Although on paper: equality, freedom and justice are luxuries we all share, it has been difficult to establish a cohesive, conceptual ideology, where everyone is on one accord. Ethnic Minorities represent less than half the population in the United States with a majority white population representing 80% of the population.
Although, The United States electoral legislators are a direct representation of the population, minorities are still underrepresented relative to their numbers in the population. Ethnic minorities in the United States like African Americans and Hispanics are not typically viewed in society as competent and well suited for favorable position in high seats of companies, and the government. Minorities are increasingly breaking the glass ceilings and earning higher positions and higher societal status, but equality in rights of privileges has not yet been obtained compared to their white counterparts.
Societal status is a state of being, and a reflection of how one is perceived to the remaining population. Ethnic minorities have experience difficulty in determining their societal status the same way as European American. The reason for this is society has innocently taught us to perceive others of another race in a certain light. Some may call this stereotypical. We apply these perceptions to everyday life, unaware of the damage it causes. It is heartrending to know the fact that some people are perceived as unequal to others due to the parameters of society’s views.
Are we not created by God with equal rights and privileges, is color the determinant of our right and privilege in this world? Most narrow or strict constructionists would argue, “yes, the system as it is provides as close to electoral equality as one can be. ” ( )This narrow-minded view is a result of a person’s background, experiences, and personal interests which indicates an opposition to look in terms of broader interpretations, where growth could be the result. Narrow constructionists believe in the ideology of black and white, no gray area.
Nevertheless, the legal system has gray areas. Loose constructionists on the other hand would argue, no, the system as it provides does not provide electoral equality because, they recognize that the Constitution as it was written in the 18th century, doesn’t solve 21st century realities. Loose constructionists feel that legal documents such as the Constitution has broader interpretations that can be explored, and believe there is the gray area. Let’s examine the pragmatic proof that may lead us to a better understanding of the race, and equality, within the United States electoral system:
African-American’s have experienced a tumultuous experience in America beginning from the time the first slave boat arrived in the 1500’s. Slavery was not abolished until 1865, in 1883 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1964 Civil Rights Act, and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act; all of these milestones in the law have assisted in the transformation of African American identity in terms of societal status and privileges in the United States. But is this really the freedom what they have been yearning for so long?
One black historian Lerone Benett Jr. points out, “the freed people were free-free to the wind and to the rain, free to the wrath and hostility of their former slave master, they had no tools, they had no shelter, they had no cooking utensils; and they were surrounded by hostile man who were determined to prove that the whole thing was one monstrous mistake. ” The Hispanic population includes: Mexicans, Cubans, Dominican Republicans, El Salvadorians, Nicaraguans, Columbians, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, and Panamanians, which anticipated trepidation.
Hispanics have experienced their own injustices in the political system and deprivation of their civil rights; they continued their perseverance just the same. “Although, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was largely a response to the condition of black people, its provisions against discrimination apply broadly to other groups as well. ”(Patterson) The farm workers’ strike of the 60’s and 70’s, the Chicano movement, and the Civil Right Act amendment in 1968, and recently President Bush’s immigrant worker program are all milestones that the Hispanic community has achieved in their discovery of equal privileges.
A person’s character is a direct relation to the foundation in their home, community, and educational background. According to a Special Report in Time magazines October 30th issue there are 300 million Americans that live in the United States. Of that number more than 80 percent (239. 9 million) are White, 14. 8 percent (44. 2 million) Hispanics, and 12. 8 percent (38. 3 million) Black. “Expert predicts that Hispanic American will number more than 50 million by the year 2025. ”(Encarta) The current census report states that around 34. million of Hispanic American or Latinos have settled in America. Hispanic highest population is in the west, and a majority living in a metropolitan area. African American’s highest population is found in the south, with a large population living in metropolitan areas. According to the census bureau blacks have the least family household structures where both parents are married and present in the household, and tend to have lower levels of education than whites. Households with married parents in Hispanics families have a higher rate than Blacks and are close to equality with Whites. Black and Hispanic children are more likely than non-Hispanic white children to be poor and to have parents with lower education levels. As a result, they often begin life with disadvantages related to family financial and educational resources. ” (Clinton 19) “Hispanic immigrants, along with immigrants from some Asian countries, have relatively low average levels of educational attainment and income. ” (Clinton 14) Hispanics are the United States fastest-growing minority group. More than four thousand Hispanics Americans nationwide hold public office.
As of 2004, there were more than twenty black members of Congress and four hundred black mayors-including the mayors of this countries largest cities. ” This number is increasing as their population size and educational attainment continues to increase. There is a direct relationship between legislators from minority groups and concentration of the states population. “States with large populations of minorities tend to have a larger percentage of legislators from minority groups. ”
The United States have amended the laws by removing racial barriers that discouraged minorities from voting, and thus have afforded minority ethnic groups to vote as equally as whites. However, voter turnout continues to be relatively low. “In 2004, the highest proportion of eligible voters since 1992 turned out, but that was only about 65%, compared with 60% in 2000. ” (Time) According to the Oct 30th, 2006 issue of Time magazine, 35% of Americans are registered and always vote, 20% are registered but don’t always vote, 23% rarely vote, and 22% are not registered to vote.
Although all U. S citizens are afforded the opportunity to vote, states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, and Georgia to name a few, are heavily populated with minority and low-income groups, and tend to have a low voter turn-out. Studies show these trends are changing favorably in minority households and communities, nevertheless it has attributed to the small representation of minorities in legislative positions.
Higher educational attainment and increasing parental participation in the education of ethnic children are contributing factors to the progressive movement toward equal representation of ethic minorities like Hispanics and Blacks in the United States electoral system. Although, “in 1996, non-Hispanic white children were more likely to have been read to in the past week than their non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic counterparts, and they were also more likely to have been told a story and to have visited a library in the past month. (Clinton 21) The gap of the role at home in ethnic households has begun to close compared to whites. The parents of Black children had the largest increase in the percentage completing high school or higher, and the parents of White children had the largest increase in the percentage attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher. Clearly, this disparity is so deeply rooted in the American history that it is difficult for minorities to determine their societal status the same way as citizens of European descent but they are continuing their perseverance to do so.
The first reconstruction did not turn up as a permanent solution for the inequality that the African-American had longed for. Then the second reconstruction was brought up to inverse the effect of the disfranchisement, but this again did not work. Then in 1965 President Lyndon Baines Johnson, opens the door for the ethnic minorities to attain the total equality within the electoral system and establish the significance of the minorities in the society.
The New York Times dated August 30, 2006 also highlighted some of the role that is played by the minorities in the United States. The statistic done by The Bay Area Center for Voting Research shows that despite the relativity of the privileged of the minorities, all have relished the right for political domain. The voting rights act of 1965 was done to legislate the right of all American and Minorities as well, that are citizens of the United States to hurl a ballot for the candidate that they choose.
President Johnson called the voting rights act of 1965 “a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory won on any battlefield. ” “A child born to a Black mother in a state like Mississippi… has exactly the same rights as a white baby born to the wealthiest person in the United States. It’s not true, but I challenge anyone to say it is not a goal worth working for. ” (Thurgood Marshall) In a movie starring Heath Ledger called “The Knights Tale”, Heath’s character, young William wanted to become a knight, but was forbidden because he was not born into nobility.
His father told him he could do anything he desires, “All he has to do is change his stars. ” Although minorities have lagged behind whites in areas of education and political participation, they are increasingly raising their standards to obtain social equality. They are doing so by increasing their education levels, aiming for more important and noteworthy positions in the economy, running for political offices in an effort to reform policies. They are changing their stars.