Racial inequality is a growing problem in the world today. It can be defined as the social advantages and disparities that characterize the livelihoods of people from different racial groups. The inequalities mainly take the form of irregular distribution of wealth, access to quality living, power, and life opportunities. Most of the racial inequalities in the country are both historic and modern. The historic bit mainly draws from the colonial and slavery eras where oppression and overall prejudice was the norm.
This paper explores the issue of racial inequality from a sociological perspective and how it can be reduced.
In the U.S., white Americans are the biggest racial group with African Americans making up the largest racial minority group at 12.7%. Hispanic and Latino Americans total up to an estimated 17.8% of the country’s population, making up the largest ethnic minority in the country. Racial disparity manifests in different ways, mainly that of racial wealth gaps. African-Americans have faced incessant segregation, denied income opportunities, and faced a lot of discrimination which has affected how they live.
While there have been calls to appreciate growing diversity across the world, these calls have attained different levels of success as racial inequalities continue to be entrenched in the American society.
Henslin, (2015) highlights the different myths that are critical in understanding the sociological foundation and entrenchment of racial discrimination in the country. Firstly, there is need to understand the reality of human variety. With over 7 billion people in the world, most of the come from different places, backgrounds and cultures and that none of them is lesser.
For many years, the myth of pure races has taken center-stage, with suggestions that some races, specifically the white races, are purer than the races. From the mapping of the human genome, there is scientific evidence that there exists no “pure” race. also disapproves the myth of a fixed number of races. He refers to anthropological evidence that indicates that there are many more races. The myth of a fixed number of races has been used to advance the racial dominance narrative for many years. The myth of racial superiority is also explored. In America, some people have viewed the white race as superior to the black and other minority races.
The myth of racial superiority has been used to advance historic discriminations such as slavery. Adolf Hitler used the same myth to advance the narrative of Aryan superiority which resulted in the Nazi slaughter of millions of people. From a sociological perspective, racial inequality can be thought of as being institutionalized. Owing to the long periods in which the discriminations have happened, they have ceased to be mere actions, but have often moved into being norms in the country. There are several statistics that paint a grim picture of the level of racial discrimination in the country. Statistics from bank landings show that bankers were more likely to reject loan applications from people from minority communities.
After the research, the banking institutions defended themselves by claiming that whites in the country had better credit history than people from minority communities. The researchers rejected their argument, noting that even in the circumstances where the applicants had identical credit history, African Americans and other minorities had a 60% chance of being rejected. These statistics point a grim picture to the struggle that people from minority communities go through to obtain credit for mortgage financing and other financial obligations in the country (Henslin, 2015, p264). Furthermore, instances of predatory lending are rifer among borrowers from minority communities.
Henslin, (2015) also argues that institutional racial discrimination extends to the state of health of minorities in the country. African American mothers are three times more likely to die while giving birth as compared to white mothers. Infant mortality among children born of African American mothers is also two times higher than that of children born of white mothers. Discrimination in healthcare is also evident when other treatment programs are considered too. Henslin, (2015) cites a study which showed that African American and Latino patients are more likely to miss on common procedures like knee replacements and coronary surgery. In many of these cases, discrimination is often unintended, but due to the fact that it is institutionalized, it happens almost unabated.
There are several approaches that can be inculcated in formulating solutions to the racial inequality problem in the country. Using affirmative action is one of them. In the growing multi-cultural country we are in, there is need to level the playing field for all racial groups. There is need to encourage fairness in hiring, promotion, attending school, and healthcare among other areas of the society. The United States has a chance to lead the way of the multicultural debate by encouraging diversity. There is need to encourage more coexisting and respect as a way of eliminating the various discriminations attributed to color of skin. Achieving this objective will require increased emancipation of the public to understand that biological differences should not separate one group of people from others. The United States can be considered one of the most racially diverse societies in the world today and it should lead the way in rooting out racial discrimination.
At the same time, it is crucial to acknowledge that most of the racial discrimination problems are rooted in the slavery and colonial past of this country and it is time for efforts to be put in to address these concerns. The intervention strategies will be able to work because many Americans are increasingly becoming aware of the need to appreciate diversity. The growing immigration into the United States implies that the country will continue being racially diverse even into the future. The main obstacle is the fact that racial inequality and discrimination is an ingrained and entrenched problem that has taken several hundred years to take root. This implies that it will not be easy to remove it from the society immediately.
Another impediment is the problem of illegal immigration which is a growing concern in America and Europe. Many countries in the world, especially in Europe, have moved to eliminate the many racial barriers affecting the people. Addressing institutional racism is easy and doable as it is enforceable by the government. It is the view of this proposal that the problem can be adequately resolved using the available structures and frameworks. While it is a complex problem, resolving it will have many benefits to the affected people and this should not be ignored. Considering the benefits, all effort needs to be directed towards managing the problem.