African-Americans since the beginning of slavery have suffered extreme segregation in all sectors of life. This group of people formed the civil rights movement in order to fight for their rights. This paper looks at the significant events which have changed the course of the civil rights movement in the United States. This paper will include the past and contemporary experiences of societal discrimination for this population, theories of identity formation, issues, and challenges as well as potential problems that result from discrimination and oppression.
Various systems which directly or indirectly maintain the marginal position of the African-American in the United States society will also be looked at. Marginalization of African-Americans in United States society in social circles will also be looked at. Introduction Approximately one fourth of African-Americans, fall below the poverty line and continue to survive in poverty in America today (Riphagen, n. d. ). It is claimed that more than 50% of all African-American children in the United States today are living in poor conditions (Riphagen, n. d. ).
One big question that arises from simply looking at the level of poverty among African-American families is how this discouraging picture of poor living conditions of a single ethnic community is possible in an industrialized, wealthy, as well as superpower nation as the United States (Riphagen, n. d. ). In modern U. S. society, one of the chief challenges remains to be the disproportionate social status of cultural minorities as compared to the Caucasian inhabitants.
Even though, the United States is a wealthy and a prosperous nation, it is the white population that reaps and benefits from unequal share of privileges (Marable, 2007). African-Americans, who make a sizeable percentage of the country’s populace and being the oldest minority community, form the major oppressed group. African-Americans, according to Bandele (2008), are yet to benefit from social, economic and political equality as compared to the Caucasian community within the country.
Even though other minority communities, for example Latinos, are also subjected to racial discrimination, African-Americans tend to experience a more severe yoke in regards to absolute numbers as well as proportions of families suffering from discrimination in any given community (Childs, 1993). The extent of poor living conditions among African-Americans is very high, and poverty for a lot of African-Americans presently, as asserted by Childs (1993), is still a harsh reality. It would be right to state that the American Dream has avoided a very big percentage of the African-American community.
Nevertheless, as Marable (1997) indicates, neoconservatives have taken other races, for example Latinos and Asian-Americans, as model minorities attaining values that make a distinction between them and the African-American underclass (Childs, 1993). As Caucasians become more and more contented with their ability to attain the American Dream and believe in its transmission to African-Americans, the latter become extremely doubtful whether the dream can actually be attained for them (Marable, 2007).
This is, in the first place, a result of a disproportional starting point and in addition established American values that play a vital function in hardships African-Americans go through. The prevailing American values go on portraying and presume that in spite of someone’s ethnic background, economic status, and place of residence, handwork is a major strategy that can enable a person to climb the social ladder and set up a better life (Riphagen, n. d. ).
The strength of this assertion, however, has to be questioned as in numerous contexts appears to be used to lay the blame on African-Americans themselves for living in poverty, as it portrays a lack of motivation as well as being lazy (Hutchinson, 1997). Over the last few decades, African-Americans have gained considerable increasing opportunities in economic, political, as well as social circles (Bandele, 2008).
From a circumstance in which absence of civil rights legislation resulted in extreme segregation of African-Americans from the dominant communities, presently the same civil rights apply to all people regardless of their ethnic background or gender (Riphagen, n. d. ). Though this may appear promising, it is not as positive and comprehensive as it might seem. The same civil rights, as Riphagen (n. d. ) argues, might be used and transcend races, though without stipulations, investments, in addition to inclusion to maintain this upward movement; it appears a rather impossible goal to attain.
Nevertheless, even though numerous opportunities and inclusion portrays an optimistic move forwards, in regards to opportunities, it has fatefully had some negative effects too (Cohen, 2006). As an outcome of increasing visibility of on the global as well as national scene and have the wave of political turbulence that occurred in the 1960s, significant pessimistic attentions in addition to more negative perceptions of Americans of African origin have arisen (Marable, 2007).
Whereas people became bitterer towards African-Americans, other people of color acquired the benefit of the doubt, as aggression to those communities was decreasing. Caucasian supremacy, though many deny of its existence in the 21st century, is one of the major factors that resulted in the oppression of the African-American community (Riphagen, n. d. ). A big percentage of Caucasian-Americans continue to directly or indirectly carry out various activities based on the doctrines of white supremacy. Studies, according to Riphagen (n.
d. ), have revealed that the culture of African-American oppression have remained much the same over the years. Scholars claim that racism is still alive in the U. S. although its effects are less severe and portrayed in a more indirect manner as compared to the past (Cohen, 2006). When the issue of discrimination of African-Americans is looked at, one cannot help, but ask why African-Americans faced and continue facing marginalization in the social circle especially in the modern United States (Jackson, 2004).
A continued marginalization of African Americans: Racism against the African American Slavery in the United States is one of the most significant events that clearly underlie a conceptual comprehension of racial discrimination (Childs, 1993). Slavery of Americans of African origin resulted in greater freedom for the unfortunate whites, even though it maintained a social framework that made sure that the latter remained poor. From time immemorial African-Americans have been used to offer undesirable services to benefit the whites (Riphagen, n. d. ).
Slavery was part and parcel of the early American society to an extent that it was codified by the law. Hecht, Jackson and Ribeau (2003), assert that from the beginning of slavery to the present day, African-Americans have collectively been fighting for freedom. Racial difference is believed by many to have been a major cause of the American Civil War. Variation in ethnic backgrounds is also perceived to have been a major hindrance for reconciliation. However, the Civil War is claimed by many to be the demarcation point for beginning of African-American nationalism.
Though it was the war that ended slavery, it was the biggest social tragedy that America has ever experienced. After the war, the lines of ethnic division became exceedingly apparent again (Riphagen, n. d. ). Civil rights movements, as indicated by Riphagen (n. d. ), aimed at reclaiming the social position of African-American community emerged in the 1960s. The civil rights movement however, did not make any remarkable contribution for redistribution of wealth along racial lines, or to encourage extensive ethnic restructuring addressing race and racial discrimination at the time.
Even though legal equality was achieved, politicians argued that the endeavors of civil rights movements were immaterial (Bandele, 2008). They claimed that the most appropriate way to handle racism was integration. Many whites did not take into account the distinctive race consciousness of African-Americans. Wherever civil rights activists emerged, this resulted in great anxiety amongst whites. Integration is therefore believed to have directly and indirectly resulted in neglect as well as lack of dedication to the vitality of African-American population (Childs, 1993).
Research, as asserted by Riphagen (n. d. ), reveals that the skepticism of Caucasian-Americans to the notion that racial discrimination is the factor that hinders upwards mobility of African-Americans. A majority of the whites are comfortable with the way African-Americans in society are treated. On the other hand, however, African-Americans are embittered by the way the society, and in particular the white population treats them (Hecht, Jackson and Ribeau, 2003). It is unfortunate that bias towards African-Americans is only rising along with a stagnating image of progress of African-Americans community in regards to education, housing and job availability.
Studies reveal that most whites in America believe that African-Americans are lazy and violent (Jackson, 2004). Research has also revealed that a majority of white-Americans believe that African-Americans live in poverty as a result of their lifestyle (Riphagen, n. d. ). This unending stigmatization of a whole race, grounded on group characteristics, highly discourages African-Americans from developing their talents and makes it very hard for them to succeed in the eyes of mainstream white-Americans.
Bias, as Hecht, Jackson and Ribeau (2003) argues, also continues in situations whereby observations gathered from broadly concentrating on the African-American underclass who are not employed are taken as a representative of the broad sweep of African-American across American society. Nevertheless, inherent in focusing on the unemployed African-American underclass is possibly trying to avoid acknowledging unfair as well as racist practices and policies (Marable, 1997). The prison department in the United States, as illustrated by Free (2003), locks up more people as compared to other industrialized countries in the world.
Another fact in regards to the U. S prisons is that the proportion of African-American in them is disproportionate as compared to other races. African-Americans make up the largest percentage of the prison population in the United States (Riphagen, n. d. ). This enormously grim image has been scrutinized by intellectuals to determine whether the criminal justice system is made up of a legitimized regulatory system over minority communities, or whether it is a fact that African –Americans commit more offenses (Free, 2003).
All in all, there is a major difference in regards to the magnitude of the offenses committed by African-Americans and the extensive burden of the jail sentences by which they are penalized. Intellectuals perceive policies set in such a way as to put more African-Americans, particularly males, in jail as a clear scenario to regulate as well as restrict African-Americans communities in regards to activities and progress (Free, 2003). Selective rules, particularly targeted at offenses committed in grater ratio among African-Americans, have led to inconsiderate along with longer sentences for African-Americans.
Free (2003) makes it clear that little, if any, strategies are put in place for treatment and prevention of crime making it quite clear that the exact agenda is to control the problem, instead of tackling the cause of the problem. The high rate of crime drives investors away from the African-American neighborhoods, in turn leading to adverse implications on the economic and social conditions of all African-Americans (Riphagen, n. d. ).
Prisoners, majority of who are African-Americans males, in different states are banned from voting (Free, 2003). Research reveals that a very large percentage of African-American men are in prison as compared to those enrolled in formal education (Riphagen, n. d. ). Along with educational segregation, housing segregation is one of the most traumatizing systems in the United States today. African-Americans over the past fifty years have experienced the worst form of housing segregation as compared to other American communities.
Housing segregation not only affects African-Americans of low socio-economic status, but also those of higher socio-economic strata (Marable, 2007). Housing segregation not only underpins unfairness, but also increases it. Various properties belonging to the African-Americans, due to the extremely segregated nature of separated locality, continues to suffer from devaluation in terms of its minimized desirability leading to a drop in value as compared to properties of equal nature found in predominantly white neighborhoods (Childs, 1993).
This scenario makes white communities to move out of localities inhabited by majority African-Americans. Housing segregation is also displayed whereby estate agents only show African-Americans only a small proportion of existing housing, while steering white-Americans away from neighborhoods containing a large percentage of people of color (Free, 2003).
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