Every country has varied aspects of its past and present that it wishes it could bury in a bottomless pit. For some countries, such elements may include economic deprivation, bad governance, insecurity or even civil wars. It goes without saying that these aspects or events have a bearing on the pillars or foundations of the country, in which case they have the capacity to cause degeneration in the country. This underlines or explains why countries are always striving to eliminate such negative aspects. As much as the United States has several things that it is not proud of, I doubt that there is anything that racism or racial discrimination as far as being shameful is concerned. Racial discrimination has been one of the key dark spots in the fabric of the United States. Unfortunately, it has always been deeply rooted or founded in the history of the United States, continues to be expressed in the current days. In fact, it threatens to continue eating into the United States’ fabric if comprehensive measures are not taken to eliminate it once and for all.
While there exists varied definitions of racial discrimination or racism, it may simply be defined as a set of actions or beliefs that view an individual or a group of people as inferior to others. These beliefs are fundamentally based on the physical appearance of the individual especially the complexion or color of his or her skin (Ezell, 2001). Almost every person has come across racial discrimination in the United States, either as a perpetrator, victim or an indifferent witness. For quite a long time, there has existed a common misconception that racial discrimination involves whites to blacks only, with blacks as victims and whites as perpetrators. This has emanated from the fact that racial discrimination has, in the past, been perpetrated by individuals of European descent against varied other groups such as Latinos and African Americans. It is worth noting, however, that racial discrimination also entails the tension that exists between varied other groups of people. For example, there has been a long-standing friction between Asian-American populations and African Americans in varied parts of the United States. The increasing globalization, mobility and diversity experienced in the United States and the entire world demands that comprehensive measures are taken to safeguard the position of the United States, both in the present and future (Ezell, 2001).
Racial discrimination cuts across almost every aspect of the United States’ fabric. It is worth noting that, irrespective of the culture that an individual comes from, the effects of racism can be seen even in cases where an individual has never directly felt the vice directed to him or her. The expansiveness of the effects underline the fact that the vice crosscuts almost every area of the society including schools, workplaces, prisons, correctional facilities, as well as the varied law enforcement agencies (Strolovitch, 2007).
As much as many people may not acknowledge the magnitude of the problem, the effects of racial discrimination cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, every person pays the price for allowing the vice to grow or continue being perpetuated in America. This is especially considering the devastating effects of racial discrimination (Strolovitch, 2007).
First, research has shown that stereotyping and racial discrimination can result to severe mental health effects, as well as emotional trauma. It is worth noting that these effects trigger other damages such as loss of promotional opportunities, jobs, pay, as well as damaged reputations. Unfortunately, the entire public has everything to lose for condoning this vice. This is in terms of decreased production, especially in public institutions, as there exists chances that discrimination led to the elimination of individuals who may have been more experienced or suited for certain jobs than the current ones (Strolovitch, 2007). Scholars opine that racial discrimination may be carried out structurally or individually with consequences being equally adverse. It is worth noting that, in cases where the vice is carried out or perpetuated institutionally or structurally, it has the capacity to diminish a country or institution’s collective capacity to enhance the progress or advancement of the members.
In addition, racial discrimination and other types of stereotypes have for quite a long time been blamed for violence that is experienced in varied parts of the globe. Researchers have, more often than not, opined that individuals who perpetuate stereotypes or racial discrimination select scapegoats on whom they take out their aggression and frustrations. In most cases, they select scapegoats or individuals who may be seen as inferior as or even weaker than them. This explains the numerous wars that have experienced in varied parts of the world, especially pitting different communities or races (Saha, 1999). Scholars opine that such stereotypes create a misconception that certain groups of people are getting or are entitled to more than what they should get. In this case, when they do not get their perceived level of entitlement, they more often than not resort to unmitigated frustration and aggression pointed towards the inferior or weaker communities. This is because they believe that the inferior groups are responsible for their predicament and the “denial” of their entitlement (Saha, 1999).
Moreover, ethnic or racial discrimination and stereotyping has the capacity to influence the wellbeing or health of the ethnic minorities via its association with variations in physiologic and mental states, as well as via its influence on an individual’s participation in risky behaviors including substance abuse and alcohol consumption. Numerous studies have attempted to examine the effect than racial discrimination has on mental health. Most of these studies have shown that racial or ethnic discrimination may be a considerable source of stress for ethnic or racial minority populations. In addition, it is associated with decreased sense of wellbeing including life satisfaction, happiness and self esteem, as well as increased hopelessness, psychosis, anger, substance abuse and anxiety (Saha, 1999). Perceived discrimination has been shown to have a bearing on depression. Varied studies have tried to examine the impact or relationship between physiologic changes and self-reported experiences with ethnic or racial bias. These have shown that there exists some relationship between discrimination-related stress and increased blood pressure. As much as other studies have shown that the levels and magnitude of the effects are dependent on an individual’s coping style, there is consensus that it has negative effects on an individual’s psychology (Saha, 1999). These have been complemented by other studies have shown a connection or relationship between discrimination and a high prevalence of constant or chronic diseases caused by behavioral risks such as alcohol consumption, substance abuse and cigarette smoking. It goes without saying that risk factors including substance abuse and alcoholism have a bearing on the economic soundness of every country. This is especially due to its bearing on the productivity of individuals.
The magnitude of the adverse effects that racial discrimination has on an individual, as well as the entire community underlines the importance of enhancing advocacy efforts against the vice (Harries-Jones, 1991). As much as many people assume that the government is the only key player in these efforts it is worth noting that, every person has a duty or role to play in eliminating it. This is especially having in mind that everyone is affected, whether directly or indirectly. Of course, the government and its varied agencies have a role to play, especially in crafting laws and regulations against the vice, as well as implementing them (Harries-Jones, 1991). However, creating awareness amongst all the parties involved is of utmost importance especially since it is the basic things that people do that make or establish a difference in the state of the nation. It is imperative that everyone recognizes the existence of racial discrimination, which underlines the importance of creating awareness (Saha, 1999). When individuals limit themselves to expressing compassion and mercy for victims of racial discrimination without making a commitment or taking a stand to eliminate it, they are essentially skirting the problem and even abetting it. Pretending that one is color-blind even when young Asians, black and native youngsters encounter despicable hardships, and professing not to perceive any variation in treatment, is tantamount to sidestepping the problem (Harries-Jones, 1991).
The first, step towards advocacy is acknowledging the existence of the problem. It is imperative that individuals desist from looking for explanations so as to justify isolated cases of deviant behaviors such as racial discrimination (Saha, 1999).
Secondly, the awareness must involve determination of the degree of institutional and personal participation that contributes in reinforcing racial discrimination. It is imperative that individuals engage in a critical assessment of behavior, attitude, as well as institutional practices whether collective or individual (Saha, 1999).
Third, it is imperative that all people see and spell out racial discrimination in its true form (Scheurich, 2002). Many are times when individuals skirt around the issue of racial discrimination by using incorrect vocabulary, attempting to reduce it to a simple problem of being “socio-economically deprived” or even lowering it by placing the vice on the same footing or platform as discrimination that is based on religion, language (Scheurich, 2002).
Fourth, it is imperative that there exist a guarantee of active and sustained participation of individuals who have been victims of racial discrimination in crucial levels of decision making (Romero, 2005). In quite a number of instances, black, Asian, and Native communities complain that studies and consultations are carried out, seminars held, committees set up and even spokespersons named without direct or even indirect involvement on their part. This is even in cases when such actions would jeopardize their interests. Of course, this triggers the question as to how such policies would be a true representation of their needs without involving the victims (Romero, 2005).
Fifth, it is imperative that the advocates against racial discrimination must maintain their consistency (Roberts, & Ash, 2009). The adoption of antiracist policies underlines the implementation of a mechanism that includes guidelines, rules, human resources and financial materials, methods of continuous and progressive evaluation, committees, as well as strategies that recognize the existence of racial discrimination and which aim at eliminating it from the country’s fabric (Roberts, & Ash, 2009).
In enhancing racial awareness, advocacy groups must engage in clear strategies that challenge the existing laws, as well as the attitudes of the people.
First, the groups must identify and make alterations of retrogressive policies that abet this situation or that seem to promote it. In this case, it is imperative that an all-inclusive team of professionals is formed and incorporate community leaders (Miller, & Covey, 1999). Reformers, religious leaders and other community leaders play a crucial role in setting up the attitude and mind of the public, especially in cases where they treat all people equally. It is extremely crucial that issues pertaining to creed and caste are handled while incorporating a clear, as well as open conscience to ensure that everyone obtains justice and lives with respect (Miller, & Covey, 1999). It is imperative that the victims of racial discrimination are represented adequately in these formal and informal groups.
In addition, advocacy groups may organize community events that involve or appeal to all races. These activities would allow for the enhancement of relationships between the varied races (Sue, & Sue, 1999). Research has shown that racial discrimination is promoted by misunderstandings and ignorance about other cultures. In essence, such events would come in handy in eliminating the tension and stereotypes as people from different cultures and races learn about each other (Sue, & Sue, 1999).
Moreover, it is imperative that groups exploit instances or incidences where racial discrimination is seen. In such instances, these groups should use such instances not only to sensitize the community about the varied activities that amount to discrimination, but also to draw attention to discriminatory laws and policies (Hair, 2001). This would allow the group to garner support especially with the elimination of the ignorance of people from different races. In addition, it is imperative that the group calls up clean-up activities to eliminate graffiti that seem to promote racial intolerance or discrimination and stereotypes. Such activities would send a clear signal to the perpetrators whether individuals or institutions that such retrogressive actions will not be tolerated or condoned in the society (Hair, 2001).
In conclusion, racial discrimination has been one of the most shameful blots in the United States fabric. As much as it is assumed to be a thing of the past, research has shown that the vice is still thriving in varied places including schools, institutions and even workplaces. It goes without while most people think of discrimination as existing only between European whites and African Americans, the vice also exists between other races such as Spaniards, Asians and even Black Americans. It goes without saying that racial discrimination propels varied ills in the society. These include ills such as racially instigated violence, reduced productivity in the workplace, as well as loss of property. Advocacy against racial discrimination must involve the participation of the affected groups. It is imperative that the advocacy efforts incorporate involve community leaders, as well as religious leaders and other professionals. In addition, the advocacy group may involve holding roadshows and other events to cement the relationships between people of varied races. This will come in handy in eliminating the ignorance of people about other tribes. Moreover, it is imperative that the group comes up hard against instances of racial discrimination. Such actions would serve as appropriate platforms of sensitizing the people about the existence of the vice in the society, as well as calling for reexamination of policies that seem to abet the vice. This should be complemented using cleanup activities to eliminate graffiti that promote the vice.
- Harries-Jones, P (1991). Making Knowledge Count: Advocacy and Social Science. New York: McGill-Queen’s Press
- Scheurich, JJ (2002). Anti-Racist Scholarship: An Advocacy. New York: SUNY Press
- Strolovitch, DZ (2007). Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
- Roberts, A & Ash, T G (2009). Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. New York: The Urban Institute
- Romero, V (2005). Alienated: Immigrant Rights, the Constitution, and Equality in America. New York: NYU Press
- Saha, S C (1999). Dictionary of Human Rights Advocacy Organizations in Africa. London: Greenwood Publishing Group
- Ezell, M. (2001). Advocacy in the human services. New York: Brooks/Cole Thomas Learning
- Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (1999). Counseling the culturally different: Theory and practice (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley & Sons.
- Miller, V., & Covey, J. (1999). Advocacy Sourcebook: Frameworks for Planning, Action, and Reflection. Boston, Massachusetts: Institute for Development Research
- Hair, P. (2001). Louder than words: Lawyers, communities and the struggle for justice. New York, NY: Rockefeller Foundation.