African Americans are one of the most ancient immigrants in the US and thus play essential roles in the country (Second Generation Immigrant Minorities 2). Throughout history, defining ethnic relations hinges on two broad perspectives, viz. black or white, with the whites standing out as the superior race whilst the blacks as the inferior race (African Americans 2). African Americans community was once the largest minority group in the country before the recent replacement by the Latinos. The majority of the challenges faced by African American populace have existed mainly because of certain issues associated with ethnic relations such as race and stratification.
Over the past decades, race has been a major determinant in defining relations among the American citizens. The disparities in races have always been exemplified using the phenotypic characteristics with some people relating the phenotype features with genotype hallmarks. For instance, it is believed that people of a certain color (phenotype feature) are more talented or intelligent (genotype characteristics) than other ethnic groups.
The false belief that genetic disparities make some races superior to others promoted the mistreatment of the inferior races like the Blacks. This false belief led to the importation of Africans to work in various industries and farms where they were eventually assimilated into the American culture. Though race disparity has always had negative stereotypes, African Americans have earned some positive stereotypes because of their race. Blacks are seen as good athletes, cool, and hypersexual.
When African Americans settled in the US, they were inserted at the lowest point of the racial hierarchy. Racial hierarchy has been a huge impediment in African Americans’ socioeconomic success. African Americans have heard minimal access to education with only 35 per cent of the populace being literate by 1947. Most of them live below the poverty rates with statistics showing that Whites are more than five times richer than the Blacks are. Both formal and informal discrimination is evident among African Americans.
A minute population of the Blacks has attractive professional jobs because most African Americans provide skilled and semi-skilled services. This high population of unskilled blacks is partially because of prejudice during hiring and lack of proper education. The racial discrimination caused by racial hierarchy is also evident in interracial marriages. According to the 2000 statistics, there were only 7 per cent of interracial marriages between African Americans and other ethnic groups, which indicates how other ethnic groups despise the blacks (Tsuda 68).
Though institutional discrimination has decreased over the years, unintentional structural discrimination is becoming rampant. Since the majority of the African Americans cannot access quality education, their economic opportunities become limited to low-skilled occupations, which earn them low wages and salaries. Due to these hardships, many young African Americans have resorted to participate in illegal practices such as drug abuse and crime.
Participation in such activities discloses how much the ethnic stratification has negatively affected the black community. Ethnic stratification has inspired them to develop an antagonistic mindset towards the majority groups whilst others have developed feelings of despair, which is a clear indication why the blacks have remained poor since their settlement in the US.
Race and ethnic stratification will continue to affect socioeconomic success of most African Americans. Although most blacks have worked hard and joined the middle or upper class, or become popular politicians, stratification and race prevents most blacks from fully exploiting their talents. Race and ethnic hierarchy should be restrained to regulate racial discrimination in institutions in the distribution of resources. The rapid rise of African Americans in the suburbs confirms that blacks can accomplish a lot if given an opportunity.