Does racism exist in present day America? If you mean does racism still consist of the burning of crosses in minority’s yards, white hooded deviants, and public lynchings of minorities, then overwhelmingly, no, it does not exist or at least not in the same way that it has existed over the last 50 years. However, the constraints of racism still loom ominously over the greatest nation in the world. Racial constrictions still cripple and affect minorities while allowing the majority to thrive. With our first minority president, and with minorities reaching higher levels of education, obtaining more earnings, and having more distinguished careers, one might infer that prejudice is dead. I contend that it is alive and flourishing while lurking beneath the shadows of measurable figures that naturally inflate with the growth of a burgeoning society.
By and large, White males continue to earn significantly more money than their minority counterparts. The only minority group earning more money than White males is Asian males and their earnings are only slightly higher, less than one standard deviation. Despite better qualifications through rising scholastic achievements, women and all other ethnic groups are falling behind Caucasian males. In 2004, women made $0.77 to every dollar made by a man. The poverty rate for Hispanics is 21.9%, for Blacks is 24.7%, and for non-Hispanic Whites is 8.6%. The median income for non-Hispanic Whites $48,977, for Blacks $30,134, for Hispanics $34,241. By 2008, the gap had widened and Non-Hispanic Whites made $56,648, Blacks made $35,806, and Hispanics made $41,630.
One widely believed theory is that because most of the higher level positions are held by white males, they are more apt to hire people that resemble them. This premise eschews the possibility of racism for a more affable ideal of favoritism, but has many prejudiced implications. Despite seeming innocent and well-meaning, this is possibly the worst form of bias. This inadvertently negates candidates for a position based on personal connections and false preconceived values. A case study MIT researchers in Chicago proved that people with ethnic names were at a disadvantage in the workplace. 5,000 resumes were submitted to various companies. Half were ethnic names and half were common. All the credentials were equal. The people with common names were 50% more likely to receive a callback than those with ethnic names.The new racism is prevalent in the workplace.
This type of racism is not confined to the workplace. The subtlety of this new racism is ingrained in politics and popular society. Paul Rand, a candidate for Senator in Kentucky, does not fully agree with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He believes that private institutions should be able to deny admission to whomever they please, including minorities. He stated, “I abhor racism, I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anyone from your restaurant…but I do believe in private ownership.” At first glance this seems harmless, but upon closer inspection, it sounds eerily similar to Jim Crow Laws. Private business owners refused service to Black Americans, based solely on their skin color in the 50′s and 60′s and we deemed that unconstitutional. Even requisite household items show prejudice against skin color. Band-Aids for years have been “flesh colored,” though only one skin color has been represented. Until recently, I was clueless that Band-Aid’s hid scars while blending with the majority’s skin. I thought the color was a great branding ploy, giving something original to the public, not necessarily catering to one group of people. Prejudice is inundated in the American fabric.
Opposers of the notion that racism is flourishing, point to our leader, Barack Obama, the country’s first minority President, as proof that it no longer exists. The idea is that a democratic country run by a minority can not be prejudiced by it’s very definition. His election has to mean that racism is dead. Obama’s election was more a function of the crash of the economy than a showing of sudden racial unity or even a mass belief in his policy. The Republican Party simply made too many mistakes to win the election. McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, made numerous unpopular comments and had a a pregnant teenage daughter, which brought into question his decision making. The decisive blow to his candidacy though, was that he voted 90% the same way that Obama’s predecessor, George Bush voted. With the state of the economy after 8 years of Bush, even wealthy Republicans could not afford 4 more years of the same policy. So, the election of our first minority president was not due to the growth of tolerance, but a product of financial necessity.
What republicans really think about Obama.
The danger of misreading common change as progress, is that the few allowances set in place to help minorities, might be deemed unnecessary. Affirmative action is one of the last aids to the under-privileged minority. Despite being called biased against the majority, it is the avenue through which minorities are now improving in education and thus becoming more qualified for better employment. It hasn’t brought equality, but it is closing the gap.
America is the best country in the world because of the opportunity given to every individual and because of it’s constant struggle for equality of all. Any person, of any race, creed, or religion can succeed with hard work and determination. The problem is that the level of those individual’s success is sometimes determined, not by their aptitude or dedication, but by their access to certain places. That access is given more frequently to White males than to almost anyone else. The race for egalitarianism is persistent here, but there are still problems with the system. Does racism exist? Unfortunately, yes.