Race and racism have been a subject of sociological and behavioral research for many decades. It has come through several stages of development that went hand in hand with politics. Nineteenth century racism was largely biological. After the collapse of colonialism in the twentieth century, racism has showed its social character (Winant, 2000). Racism finds its reflection in various forms in everyday life. It brings social inequality and injustice to society. Discrimination in the society against color of skin and race is a disruptive phenomenon in the modern world that brings social distortions and economic loses for individuals and society at large.
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Evidence of racism as a form of social inequality can be easily found in mass media. Consider, ABC news article about racism in America (Hanan & Schwartz, 2009). This news article makes a report about social behavioral experiment that was conducted in the downtown of Linden, NJ. According to the experiment, several day laborers of Hispanic origin who could speak English really poorly dropped into a nearby restaurant to order a meal. A cashier who was taking orders and laborers were actors, hired by the ABC company to make this research. Cashier was responding to the day laborers in a rude and racist fashion and ultimately refused to take an order. Even though majority of customers (real people) were indifferent to the insulting conversation, quite a few joined racist cashier and expressed their opinions about Hispanic people coming to work to the USA.
Even though this was an artificial setting, there are numerous accidents of that kind when people from Mexico or other countries come legally to the U.S. to live and work, however, find there heavy oppression and discrimination. This brings up a question of the severe social inequality that exists in the American society nowadays. Discrimination against race and color of skin in the American society has existed for years. People from other nations are treated unequally by “native” Americans who were born in the country. They find a lot of hardships in getting a job, housing, education. Even though legislation creates necessary conditions for equal rights and freedoms for people despite their country of origin, negative attitude present in the society sometimes turn their life into tortures (Fiske, 2003).
The origins of social stratification by race lie in the determining of the boundaries to make precise social distinctions among people. People normally construct various categories about the surrounding world that help them to evaluate and classify their environment. Those categories usually evolve over time, change, sometimes disappear. However, in general, people usually use social groups and categories to make judgments and derive conclusions (Fiske, 2003). According to racial stratification theory, social categories do not exist simply in the form of mental image. Typically, distinction of social groups is associated with emotional values attached to them. Having either positive or negative emotions associated with a particular race or social group contributes to the formation of prejudice and forthcoming discriminatory behavior.
There are a number of reasons for negative emotions and stereotypes associated with different races. Considering above mentioned example, it is clear that people who are originally from the USA behave in a racist manner against other people for the following reasons. First, current poor economic situation and increased unemployment rate makes it hard for people of any race to find a job. Therefore, coming of people from other nations raises anger and discriminatory actions from the side of originally born Americans. Secondly, immigrants from other countries usually come from poor countries that have numerous infectious diseases. Hence, Americans are scared of getting infected and deteriorate their health (Fiske, 2003). Finally, as immigrants from poor countries have hard times to earn decent income in the USA, they usually live in bad neighborhoods and get involved into criminal behavior. This creates another stereotype and prejudice towards their nation and race among people originally born in the U.S.
Being a form of social inequality, racism brings numerous effects for people involved into it. First of all, consequences of racism are primarily associated with existent prejudices and stereotypes. In particular, non-white (not Caucasian) people in the USA on average meet more difficulties to find a decent job. They are considered to be a cheap work force and, therefore, they are offered only bad low paid jobs. Similar situation is observed on the real estate market when discriminated nations often receive rejections in renting better apartments, and are ultimately forced to live in poor neighborhoods. Also, due to existent stereotypes in the white society, it is a lot harder for people of other race to be admitted into a good school (Bonilla-Silva, 1997).
In most cases both parties in the discrimination process are aware about it. White Caucasian people often consider themselves superior to other races and treat them accordingly for no obvious reason. At the same time, Blacks or Hispanics are aware about existent attitude and hence start various civil rights movements to fight for their freedoms and social equality.
On average, mostly low income people are involved into the racist behavior. This can be explained by the fact that having limited resources and possibilities in the society, low income people blame others in their problems. Therefore, coming of people from other countries and improving their social and economic conditions despite discriminatory attitude in the society is taken as an insult and theft of white people life opportunities. Hence, they get involved into the discriminatory behavior. However, there are other cases when racial discrimination is also taking place among rich and prosperous people as well (Bonilla-Silva, 1997).
Any form of social inequality and discrimination is unjust and cannot be good for society. Racial discrimination is not an exception. It brings distrust and violence into society. From the economic perspective though, one can find increased competition on the labor market as a potential advantage of social racial inequality. However, discriminatory behavior does not bring any economic or social benefit to either individuals or community.
To sum up, social inequality among people from different races has existed in the society for many years. It appears as a result of people’s perception of the world with the help of categories and classes. However, once a discriminatory actions are exercised against any kind of social group (race in this context), this leads to a number of negative consequences for society like violence and distrust.
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