Whites (“Traditional” Whites AND White Immigrants), Essay
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Taking a look at how race and nationalities issues are looked upon in the USA and what social problems it causes, for individuals and the society in general.
Keywords: segregation, social, race, inequality
What demands have been served by “othering” people of color from certain ethnic groups, Middle East and Muslims, and other marginalized groups throughout U.S. history?
We are well aware how things should be and how all people need to be treated equal. Nevertheless, instead of all of us being one people, one nation on the Earth, we are all segregated and separated into different races, genders, nationalities, religions, skin complexions, as if someone wants us to fight and hurt each other. We ask ourselves this question. Why? Throughout the USA history, a lot of ethnic groups have been marginalized as being the “lower race” and therefore considered the exploitative working force. What mostly put some groups of people into the “other” section related to either exploitation of the land they were on, or using their physical characteristics and inferiority to serve as cheap or free labor, or considering them a threat to the nation because of the war infested area from which they come from.
If we take a look at the Native American Indian story, we know that America was discovered long before Columbus came, because the so called “Indians” were already living there for who knows how many centuries. Now, there is a handful of them left. So, what is the reason? The supremacy of white Europeans who decided to expand to the New World gave them right to overpower and marginalize the natives who had already been on that land. Basically, the Pilgrim Fathers, as they were called, wanted to create the new world and they applied all the means necessary to take over that new territory.
When we move on to African Americans, we can see that white supremacy even more. The skin color decides who is second rated and who is in an even worse position. Originally, everyone in Africa they could get their hands on was considered no more than a tool, that even cost nothing, but could do the work for free and feel grateful for it. Once transferred to America, they started working in rich white people’s houses and plantations, with nothing but food and maltreatment to look for. Now, after 250 years since the abolishment of slavery, racist practices have still endured (Racism, sc. 2, 60).
Coming to the more recent history, we are faced with the other kind of black. The people of Latin origin, considered cheap labor, inferior, because of the skin color and the difficult conditions they came from. Nowadays, lots of them are illegal immigrants in the USA, working on the black market for small amount of money, or if legally present, doing some menial jobs and not earning much. There are always exceptions, but the general picture is there.
With Middle Eastern people, the picture is similar to the Hispanic, but perhaps for some other reasons. They are also of darker complexion and they can even remind of the Hispanic, which in some instances they try to accomplish, because it gives them less trouble, which the Latin Americans do not like (Middle Eastern lives in America, 244). They come from war infested areas, where wars are usually started for some kind of profit on guns or acquiring rich land, with ores, oil or anything that can be profited on. If they come to America, they are usually labeled as connected to Islam and terrorism, so people of their origin are marginalized at airport searches or at any entries to some institutions whites (Middle Eastern lives in America, 238) and paid much less than whites 1.5 to 1 for whites (Racism, 57).
It can be seen that people of other than fair complexion have had lots of trouble during the history and today. It has been suggested in “We are all Americans” that we have socially come to segregate the society in the USA into three categories:
Honorary whites (light skin Latinos, Japanese Americans, Korean Americans, Asian Indians, Chinese Americans, and most Middle Eastern Americans), and
Collective blacks (blacks, dark skinned Latinos, American Indians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Cambodians, etc.).
All this generally serves one purpose: segregation and class distinctions to separate those in power with the right to the highest income and profit, profiting mostly from those who are at the bottom of the scale, by the skin color and social conditions, with every right as if it were God given.
How can an awareness that current policies and practices are informed by dominant culture characteristics help us to better understand inequality today and help us craft more effective policies?
Even though we want to believe that inequality does not exist, it is everywhere around us. The way that we look how someone is dressed, if it is something expensive or stylish or just something that they put on so they look decent. We immediately judge people by their appearances. It is no more different when it comes to race, nationality and religion. There is something that is generally preferred or that we prefer and something which is better to be avoided. It depends from which position you are looking at. If you are a white person the “other” categories are “dark skinned” and “blacks”, respectively. It was hoped that with the coming of the black president Obama, things would be different, but we are not so sure about that.
In “Racism” we come across what means to be separated in groups and which group has the supremacy. It clearly states that migrants who “could claim whiteness reaped the benefits of an economic and political system consolidated under white supremacy. Other advantages flowed from the attainment of citizenship and incorporation as Whites, such as property and voting rights, that enabled them to further accumulate wealth and to control the political system, as well as write a version of history that glorified and normalized their dominance as legitimate and natural.” (Racism, 59). We can clearly see from the stated that there are different laws for Whites and for everyone else. With the One-Drop Rule, as we can see in “Who is Black”, if you have any ancestor who was black, you are considered black. And the rule does not apply only to Blacks, but translates to other races and nationalities (Who is Black, 54-56).
One of the drastic examples would be Michael Jackson. He was black and changed his color completely by going through the torture of painful plastic surgeries and life under medication, in order to become white. Why? The race above races is white, so he was feeling inferior for being black. They are above everyone. That is why the Middle Eastern people are trying to change their appearance, wear jeans, look more American, change their names so they could get a job or get better jobs (Middle Eastern lives in America, 244).
According to “Middle Eastern lives in America”, in order to cope with being shamed in public, marginalized, being questioned about their legal stay in the USA, Middle Eastern people have come up with mechanisms of coping with being viewed as “lower” race or nationality, which may be used by anyone who is being treated like that. The first one is humorous accounting, making jokes on their own expense, such as being the “brother of Muhammad Ali, the boxer” when someone asked him what kind of name is that. The second one is educational accounting, talking to people about the culture and bringing them closer to what their nationality and religion really are. This approach came very useful after 11 September, when everyone thought that all Muslims must be like that. Third, confrontational accounting, which must be used carefully, standing up for oneself when being separated or excluded. And finally passing or avoiding accounts, when you want to avoid answering questions or being put in any type of unpleasant situations.
With African Americans there are a lot of problems because they are marginalized, so poverty and crime rates are very high. In “The more things change”, we add to that “the more they stay the same.” Social conditions for them never really change. Living in difficult conditions with blacks earning less money 1:2 in favor of whites (Racism, 57), they become members of gangs and start stealing and dealing drugs, so they put themselves in even more difficult place and situations. One of the most important strength perspectives is family as a unit, to draw the strengths from there and look at the opportunities around them in society and physical environment.
Therefore, it is important not to look at people or judge them from where they come from or what complexion they have, but from the perspective what each individual has to contribute to better their life and life of others. If any one of us does not do that, the same will return to us, because it is a circle of life.
What policy changes do you see as necessary in our criminal justice system? How might these changes impact inequality on the basis of race and ethnicity in the United States?
It is easy for someone who was born under the lucky star to go to nice schools, be part of high society and learn the norms, afford traveling and opening their views and broadening their knowledge. There are many people who are not privileged to do so, and it is not the willpower that is keeping them from becoming the best they can.
In “Developing Culturally Anchored Services”, the social problems that African Americans and other minorities have are mostly blamed on them, and rely on “personal responsibility, harsher laws and more prisons” to resolve these issues. But there is so much more than just their sole responsibility for their lives that is present here, and there are a lot of social and economic issues unresolved here, which are making things difficult for a proper change.
For Native Americans, American Indians, it is very hard to forget where they are now, and where they were a couple of centuries ago. The reservations are daily reminders that they are an unwanted group and have difficulty in forgiving and forgetting why it has come to that. Gambling and drinking has become their reality. Only looking toward the future, legislative changes in policies towards the minorities and the legislation such as Patriot Act can help them, and all the different races and nationalities, to find their rightful place.
After all, as I have already mentioned, what goes around, comes around. So how people treat each other is how they are going to be treated. We must remember that.
We are all Americans
The more things change
Middle Eastern lives in America
Developing Culturally Anchored Services
Who is Black
Social Work Practice with Latinos
Cultural competencies in Hispanic
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