Discourse on racism in a multi-ethnic population such as the United States can be divided into two main schools of thought. The first school of thought perceives racism to be the key reason why certain minority groups remain disadvantaged and marginalized. These prejudices may also be the reason why members of the majority ethnicity are more likely to flourish and attain high levels of success in different areas. Most proponents of this school of thought claim that some structures and systems within society have flaws that favor one ethnic group. The second school of thought pertaining to racism argues that the successes and failures of different ethnic groups are the result of the values and principles that are inherent to those people. This means that they cannot attribute their failures to any forms of institutional discrimination or racial prejudice.
Trends and statistics observed in the United States imply that the first school of thought is correct. Critics have often accused the US justice system of being unfair when dealing with people from different races. Statistics collected in 2004 showed that 12.6 percent of African American males, 3.6 percent of Hispanic males and 1.7 percent of white males in the United States were in prison (Pazzolo, 2013). Despite comprising the largest percentage of the American population, fewer white people were in prison than any other race. With African American people, opposite is the case. African Americans make up the lowest percentage of the entire US population but the largest percentage of the people who are incarcerated.
Sentencing disparities observed in the US support the idea that the racial differences within the prison population are the result of a broken system. Statistics from the US justice department reveal that, on average, prison sentences for black men are 20% longer than those that white men receive for committing similar crimes (Spohn, 2012). This means that the system favors white people by giving them shorter sentences that allow them to recover in no time. Meanwhile, people of African descent are disadvantaged by being denied their freedom unfairly.
In his famous speech, Martin Luther King explained that he dreamed of an America where all races lived together with harmony and black people along with all other non-white races were not considered second-class citizens. Luther King’s views on solving racism distinguished him from other civil rights activists such as Malcolm X, who was more aggressive and radical in his stance. Looking at how America has developed today, the country appears to have put Martin Luther King’s approach into action. The government ended all of its racist policies, and now considers black and white citizens to be equal, legally.
An integrationist approach is the
best solution for America’s
racial inequality problems. The main idea would be to unite people of all races
in the US
so they can work to help the country grow. The policies that the government currently
applies imply that it preferred the integrationist approach. The problem that America
now faces is the application of the integrationist ideals. Racial inequality in
the United States
has evolved to become less obvious. Institutions such as the American criminal
justice system still treat black people unfairly in comparison to white people
(Spohn, 2012). The solution to problems such as institutionalized racism is
difficult to find, however, other systems in the country have shown that the United States
can defeat racism. The election of a black person (Obama) as president is
evidence that it is possible to fix the flaws in the system.
Palazzolo, J. (2013, February 14). Racial gap in men’s sentencing. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324432004578304463789858002.html
Spohn, C. (2012).
Race and sentencing: In search of fairness and
justice. In Walker, S., Spohn, C. & Delone,
M, The color of justice: race, ethnicity and crime in America (pp. 231-281). Belmont: Wadswoth
Spohn, C. (2012). Race and sentencing: In search of fairness and justice. In S. Walker, C. Spohn, & M. Delone, The color of justice: race, ethnicity and crime in America (pp. 231-281). Belmont: Wadswoth Publishing Co.