Racism and Discrimination Essay
As members of modern and civilized societies, we must always attempt to educate each other if we wish to live in a cohesive community. Sociology is a study that focuses on actions which effect society and how the characteristics of societies influence human development. Scholars of sociology analyze factors such as race, religion, and national origin, among others, in the hopes of determining the various ways that these factors shape a society’s beliefs and attitudes towards their fellow citizens. Issues that are often discussed throughout the sociological circle are racism and discrimination. Racism and discrimination can take many different forms and can have a negative effect on one’s career, health, and personal development. This paper will use sociological principles in order to analyze examples of the way various aspects of one’s life may be affected by discrimination, prejudice and racist behaviour._________________________________________________________
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2. Defining the standard terms
The line between racism and discrimination is often blurred and it is a task in itself to classify acts between the two categories. In order to determine the ways that racism and discrimination affect one’s life, we must first determine the difference between these two classifications. Race can be defined as a social construct that can group people based on characteristics such as skin colour, ancestry, cultural affiliation or history, and ethnic background (Adams et al) and therefore, racism is prejudice against, discrimination towards, and unequal treatment of people based on these categories. The concept of discrimination spans across multiple factors such as age, gender, sexual orientation as well as race and skin colour. Furthermore, it is important to realize the way that the individual’s race, gender, ethnicity, culture, or background can be correlated to the variety of issues different groups experience. The stereotypes and prejudice people experience vary greatly and we must analyze which groups of people are most commonly affected by potentially harmful misinformation.
3. Historical Review
Throughout history, differences in race, ethnicity, and religion have been the source of many problems, including slavery, wars and even genocide. Racial tension is creating civil wars and wars on the street, which are constantly occurring all around the world anywhere from France to South Africa to Detroit, Michigan. In order to understand the serious nature of these crimes, we must analyze the past. The most outstanding example that comes to mind is the events directed by Adolf Hitler, who came into power in 1933, as he managed a group that discriminated with acts that will hopefully never be repeated. The discrimination affected groups based on racial, political, ideological, behavioural and religious grounds. Among these groups were homosexuals, socialists, Gypsies and Jews, as well as many others. In what is largely considered the most extreme act of racism in history, the German Nazis killed nearly two out of every three Jews in a plan they called the “Final Solution”. A few years later and across the pond, there was a different form of discrimination taking place. Until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, racism in the United States took the form of slavery, via capture and breeding of Africans on slave ships to America.
4. Implications of Past Events
The implications of these events span many years past their abolishment. Although slavery as an institution has been put to an end, many who have the ancestry of slaves suffer from an inferiority complex and are therefore still victims of mental slavery. A former sports announcer, fired for the proceeding comment, announced that black people have an advantage in sport because of the past breeding of big black people to make good slaves. According to this announcer, for this reason, there are so few black individuals in coaching and executive positions (Fields, 96). Although the highest paid athletes in the United States are black, there is still a feeling of discrimination as blacks are rarely become managers or executives of the same sports (Kahn). The trend here is that more and more professions are becoming equally available to people of all races, creed, and colour. The construct that was once dominated by slavery has been transformed into equality via pioneering activists and history changing occurrences such as affirmative action.
5. The Current Situation
Although there has been a lot of progress made over the past years, there are currently many various problematic issues in this world that are contributed to by discriminatory behaviour and belief systems. The issues that are most alarmingly affected include poverty and poor lifestyle, mental and physical health, and self-perception. For example, racial bias in medical care, dwelling in bad neighbourhood, the trauma of experiences of discrimination and the acceptance of the societal stigma of inferiority can have damaging consequences for one’s health (Williams, 2006). Unfair hiring practices and wage inequality are customs that perpetuate poverty. Although much progress has been made, there are still cases like the recent black fire-fighter lawsuit in which the Supreme Court in Washington ruled on Monday. The issue here was discriminatory testing towards black firefighters in Chicago as only 11 percent of those who scored ‘high enough’ to be hired were black. However, the judgement ruled that the city should hire 132 randomly chosen black applicants who had a passing score and the test should be changed to a pass/ fail format in order to remove potential discriminatory practices (Holland).
As sociologists focus on people and the social development process, it is perhaps most vital that we focus on the place in which all modern civilizations develop, the schools. Discrimination is a problem that children commonly face, even as teachers and administrators push the social justice curriculum. Even in countries where education is considered above average, such as Canada, a higher rate of inclusiveness and empowerment of all children is considered a priority. The Canadian Race Relations Foundation published an article exemplifying concrete examples of racism. Quotes from children of all ages show students acting misinformed, ignorant, uninviting and other students being bullied, victimized and marginalized. An example of a common trend shows that there is an assumption that immigrant, visible minority and Aboriginal parents are less intelligent because of their accent, income level, or ability to speak English (Mentor, 4).
This type of belief that can escalate into dangerous behaviour and it is crucial that it is dealt with at an early stage in order to halt any advancement.
Using sociological studies can help one understand all of the aforementioned issues and in turn help minimize the problems with which they are associated. Conflict theory would help one under how the Nazi regime managed to dominate others so effectively meanwhile critical theory has helped change the unlawful nature of past incidents of genocide and slavery. Social constructionists could effectively explain how the social phenomenon of race oriented bullying develops in the school setting. The dynamics, which contribute to an individual’s ability to develop within a group and the development of the group itself, also contribute to the segregation between groups. When defining differences such as race, it is in the definition where the difference is created. The problem lies not within the special treatment of certain groups of people and offering relief based on racial classification should not solve the solution as any type of discrimination towards any type of people is unjust and should not occur in the first place.
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