There are four major ethnic, cultural and racial groups present in the United States today. These groups which compose the nation’s population are the African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic and Native Americans or the Non-Hispanic Whites. From the dawn of time, issues of racial profiling have haunted the American Society, although United States of America is said to be the birthplace of patriotism unity and believed to be a nation that will adhere to intense dedication to freedom, justice and equality (Feagin, 1978).
The vast diversity of the American population which characterizes the nation’s inhabitants has often resulted to disorder and chaos, as discrimination exists across the nation. Although the government has taken some actions and laws have been made and are implemented, they are not enough to counteract the racism problem at hand which is deeply rooted in the American tradition, as a longer time may deemed necessary before the public become accustomed to a racial free society.
If the authorities are keen on abolishing and eliminate racial discrimination, it then important that they see to it that the public would have a better understanding and background of the different ethnic and minority groups. Awareness to their values, customs and traditions are small little steps that may eventually lead to these groups coexistence. For this reason, the paper discusses two of the major groups that play important roles in shaping the United States social structure, the African Americans and the Puerto Ricans.
The emergence of Africans Americans or the black Americans population, which are United States residents but with blood lineage from the black racial group of Africa, in the United States can be traced back way before 1800’s as majority of black Americans have their descendants in the United States. While White Americans came to the United States voluntarily, their Black counterparts were not given a choice as majority of the black population came in America as slaves (Feagin, 1978).
It is noting to know that among the different ethnics group that come and settled in the United States, African Americans are the only group which have come not in accordance with their own free will. They were used as servants in large agricultural fields. It was believed that the first African American that had entered the borders of the United States settled in Jamestown. Their slavery and the hard labors they performed served as their free passage to the United States as they are compared to English poor people.
However during the great American Civil War, by virtue of the proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans became free. But then the post war era, the restoration period, calls for the segregation of blacks from the whites and deteriorates what was supposed to be period of new beginning for the blacks.. In order to free themselves of troubles and violence brought by discrimination, most Black Americans followed the law which dictates racial segregation.
However, as violence related to racial discrimination became widespread, calls for abolishing the racial profiling laws also intensify as growing African American heritage and intellect became more evident. The era of civil rights movement which aimed to promote camaraderie and embed equality by eliminating racial discrimination help largely to the Black Americans cause of seeking dignity for their culture and race. Thus, when the Black Power Propaganda was formed a more complex ideology was born as African American seeks for moral dignity, fairness, justice and freedom from white oppression.
Today, free from slavery and contributing vastly to economics and politics and enjoying a legal status, Black Americans have enjoyed a great deal of success as they experienced and enjoyed greater rights, far from what were their ancestors have before. However, complete satisfaction and recognition of their rights will have to wait for another few years as white people and custom is still the dominant culture in the United States. The radical change, however, which started from the nineteenth century are strong indications and evidence of the emerging power the African Americans are obtaining.
African Americans now have greater access top higher educations and growth in employment as blue and white collar workers are also evident. Disparity between the poverty of black and people have also reduced and many black Americans now have there owned home. However, the sad part is although continuous improvements are achieved each day, black Americans are still at disadvantage with the white people. It can be observed in issues regarding health insurances and benefits and institutional racism, which is very much present especially in middle school’s class.
In fact, a report in Rutherford country showed that massive complaints of racial discriminations are filed as parents are alarmed with the growing numbers of black students that are suspended. Compare to their white counterparts, black students continue to be suspended at much higher rates, raising the question of racial discrimination in imposing discipline among the students. In 2006 for instance, 14. 4 % of black students were suspended in the district, which causes a handful of students to lag behind their studies (Scott, 2007).
On the other hand rate of suspension for white students stand at 6. 6% (Scott, 2007). Figures and numbers indicate that the rates at which black students are suspended are more than double of the rate at which whites are. This then has poses an alarmed to the black population as their children are put into a disadvantage situation. Just like the African Americans, Puerto Ricans suffer a great deal of oppression and poverty as they occupy the bottom most part of the United States’ social hierarchy for years (Feagin, 1978).
They are considered as one of the world’s poorest groups, however, Puerto Rico posses a great link to the Caribbean world and the developing counties across the globe, which the United States social failed to utilize for their own advantage as it failed to realize its importance to the nation. The emergence of the Puerto Rican Ethnic group dates back to the time when the island which was then named as Borinquen, was a colony under the rule of Spain. For 400 years, Spain uses it as a strategic base.
The island was a home for different tribes of Taino, however as the Spanish settle with in the island, population of the Indian tribes gradually diminished as generations passed by. Disappearance was due to the fact that Spain used them for forced labor in mines -which causes natives to acquire disease, massive exterminations and racial intermingling and merging. During that time, where in slavery was widespread, large number of African Americans was brought to Puerto to replace the natives as workers.
Thus, the present genetic component of a modern Puerto Rican is a mix of Spanish, native Indians and African American. In 1898, as Spain succumb to American power during the Spanish-American War it surrendered Puerto Rico to the United States. Americans deemed Puerto Ricans as ignorant and as result, self governing was denied to them and Puerto Rico become entirely dependent to the US government. Puerto Ricans were left confused politically and culturally as they desperately ask matters about the issue of their citizenship.
US Congress however, denied them of acquiring US citizenship relating that Puerto Ricans and Americans should not be treated as equal and they are inferior compare to them. But a year before the US plunged into the World War I, it granted Puerto Ricans US citizenship. With the booming population and stagnant economics, Puerto Rico became one of the poorest countries around the globe in the 1940’s. In an effort to escape the harsh reality of life in the island, many of the population migrated to the United States, bringing with them the hope and the promise of an American Dream.
However, the situation would not be different, as immigrants would fail to land jobs and are exploited. Furthermore, housings were prioritized for Native Americans. Language handicapped was also a barrier, which leads to them being discriminated. Puerto Ricans are also identified with Catholicism and Christianity which is teaching based from Spanish colonial times, and since the structure of the American church is Protestant, conflicts often arise. Businessmen of Puerto Rico descends, would often complain of the difficulty in getting loans.
With automation starting to engulf the business and industrial sections, Puerto Ricans further sink to the bottom of the social pyramid as they become more isolated, like the black people. There were no opportunities that were presented for them as they lack the skills to land jobs. But then came the era of being unrest, the emergence of Civil Rights Movement and Anti-Poverty Groups in the 1960’s helped Puerto Ricans stimulate and assimilate into the American society, culture and politics (Nash, 2000).
The movement and program covers every Puerto Rican and led to astounding solutions to the problems that result from ethnics and cultural differences and inconsistencies which are related to the failure to be in accordance with the dominant American Culture. The emergence of theses groups had opened the eyes of the Puerto Rican public to seek for fair and just treatment and uphold their dignity.
Although they have been successful in appealing for changes, after decades of struggling for political representation, culture and customs respect and their placed into the American Society, Puerto Ricans are today just slowly beginning to achieve and realize the progress and results. Whether it is questions about citizenship status, welfare and housing programs, bilingual and multi-cultural education or electoral power, Puerto Ricans had stood the test of time and has proven it is capable of complex assimilation to the dominant American society.
However for Puerto Ricans and other ethnic minorities and racial group in America, being subordinate to the dominant American culture is a continued struggle as still they are treated unjustly.
Feagin. J. (1978) Racial and Ethnic Relations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ Prentice-Hall. p. 212, p. 298 Scott, B. (2007). Daily Race Colors Suspensions. News Journal Murfreesboro. Nash, K. (2000). Contemporary Political Sociology: Globalization, Politics, and Power. Blackwell Publishers.