The Problem of Racism in the USA

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 2
Words: 610
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College

The issue of race is often discussed in the political sphere, education, and other areas of human life as a concept that requires more attention. However, the claim that race is not biological but social helps see it differently. Since it is not biological but social, it implies that people artificially reinforce the importance of race to regulate relations. Indeed, “race is not a biological category; rather, it is a social category that can have devastating biological consequences” (American Academy of Pediatrics Board of Directors, & Executive Committee, 2021, p. 1). Race triggers more problematic issues in human health as an outcome of discrimination at different levels of social structure. Since racial differences have been used as a basis for slavery in the United States, the implications of difference on a genetic level persist. However, it is important to eliminate this social construct from people’s consciousness to promote equality.

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The outcomes of systematic racism are evident in the self-perception of racial minorities. Indeed, as shown in the documentary “A girl like me,” African American girls prefer to play with white dolls; imagine that if they looked like that doll, they would be prettier (Mediathatmatters, 2007). They are born into a world where whiteness is a synonym of beauty, while dark skin symbolizes ugliness. Like these girls, people often think stereotypically about race and make an unconscious judgment based on prejudice when interacting with the representatives of a different race. When conducting a population census, the authorities collect data only for socially relevant purposes and with no indication of differences between people (“Global Census,” n. d.). Thus, even simple activities that force one to think critically demonstrate that race is only in our heads and has no scientific validation of difference.

When reflecting on the complexity of race as discussed in the context of contemporary US society, I think of the many everyday life situations that African Americans, Asians, or representatives of other so-called racial minorities encounter due to stereotypes and prejudice. It was a very insightful practice for me to understand and critically analyze that race is not biological but social.

Prejudice and privilege impact some of the important areas of everyday human life. In particular, I notice that prejudiced attitudes are expressed in the workplace and education when the preference is given to white people due to their implied better competencies and education. However, mere belonging to a white race does not imply advantage; it is a result of historically constructed stereotypes surrounding racial issues for centuries. Similarly, healthcare is another area where prejudice is encountered. People representing minorities are more likely to have difficulty accessing healthcare and might be treated with stereotypical attitudes, resulting from centuries of racism.

I learned much about race in the USA during this course. The concept of white privilege makes me think about the possibility of equality in a society where race is not considered a factor. In that case, it would appear to the white population that their whiteness might no longer mean guaranteed access to paid jobs or education. Other factors besides race would become visible, such as intelligence, skills, competitiveness, personality traits. When race is taken out of the equation, humanity can live in a relatively equal society where skin color is the same as hair length or the shape of the jaw. In other words, if race were perceived as a simple feature of appearance that does not bear any social code or implications, people would treat each other differently. Thus, racism is inherently connected with white prejudice. The discrimination of the minorities based on their non-whiteness leads to diminished opportunities in life and an overall misperception of oneself.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics Board of Directors, & Executive Committee. (2021). AAP perspective: race-based medicine. Pediatrics, 148(4), 1-3.

Global Census. (n. d.). Web.

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Mediathatmatters. (2007). A girl like me [Video]. YouTube. Web.