The Racial Paradox: Is America Still Struggling with Racism?

16 Jul

By Lorenzo Ligato

Upper West Side, New York City. It’s a warm summer day on the Upper West Side. Flocks of New Yorkers and tourists scramble down Broadway, talking on the phone, grabbing cold drinks, rushing and loitering. Just a single walk down any street of the city affords the opportunity to taste the extraordinary social diversity of New York City. Many different races, religions, and traditions meet, mingle and coexist in The Big Apple, constituting a unique cultural mosaic. New York City indeed resembles the epitome of the multicultural integrated society. Nevertheless, although New York City and most of the country’s metropolises seem to be past race-based discrimination, racism is still a severe issue in America, as well as in many countries all over the world.

“Today’s civil and human rights challenges are far different from those faced by our predecessors,” said Roslyn M. Brock, chair of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights organization for ethnic minorities in the United States. “Yes, we can drink at public water fountains, but the drinking water in our homes may not be safe because of lead toxins; we can move into sprawling multi-million dollar homes in the suburbs, but the terms of our mortgages differ from our neighbors; we can send our children to public schools, but in some states the text books they read are 20 years old and school boards have decided to rewrite history by removing all references to slavery and its devastating impact on our society: we can be treated at hospital emergency rooms, but often there are huge gaps and disparities in the quality of care we receive, which contributes to higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions,” says Brock in The Charlotte Post.

America boasts one of the strongest liberal democracies in the world, and has always been the home of the fight against racial intolerance. Of course, Barack Obama’s election in November 2008 represented a milestone in the US history and politics and a great step towards integration. Paradoxically, though, in the same year, America witnesses an increase in racially motivated hate crime incidents. According to the FBI’s 2008 Hate Crime Statistics report, of the 7,780 single-bias incidents reported, 51.3 percent were racially motivated. Also, law enforcement agencies reported that of the 4,704 racially motivated offenses, 72.6 percent were motivated by anti-black bias.

Therefore, the question is: how has Obama’s election affected the perception of the role of minorities in America? Of course it constitutes a noteworthy success for the African-American population; yet, if America is ready for an African-American President, why is racial prejudice still a widespread phenomenon?

“We are proud to have an American of African descent in the White House. However, the historic election of President Barack Obama did not miraculously transform race relations; end racial profiling; hate crimes; or intolerance in America,” says Brock.

Maybe it’s just a matter of time, but the truth is that there’s still a long way to go towards integration. Many miles have been walked over the recent decades, but Martin Luther Kings’s dream of a “nation where [people] will not be judged by the color of their skin” hasn’t come true yet.

One Response to “The Racial Paradox: Is America Still Struggling with Racism?”

  1. African American English July 16, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Excellent post.
    Recent politics in Arizona regarding non-standard English and other dialects also show that racism has begun to take shape in different forms. By discriminating against the way people speak (as certain groups have very particular speech patterns), legislators are discriminating against those groups overall.

    Tak a look at our article “History Matters: Arizona and English-Only” to see for yourself at:
    http://africanamericanenglish.com/2010/05/28/history-matters-arizona-and-english-only/#more-729

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