Social Issues in the United St…
Social Issues in the United States in the African American community
The African American community has enjoyed much progress from the days when slavery was legal up to date where they enjoy almost equal opportunities with the whites. However, it is still very easy to observe trends among the two groups that evidence a disadvantage to the black community in almost every area of life whether socially or politically. While it is not appropriate to underscore the advancements made by movements such as the civil rights movement, there are challenges that black Americans face for the reason of their being black. When it comes to basic things like housing and education, the African Americans do not enjoy the same opportunities with the whites. African Americans face many problems and obstacles in today’s societies. Some Include, Economic challenges, social and political issues that African American citizens fight and face today.?History
The history of Africans in the United States has been one of a continuous fight for equality. The African Americans led the abolitionist movement to put an end to the cruel institution of slavery that diminished their dignity. However even with winning the fight against slavery, there were other impediments that made it difficult to enjoy life on the same scale with the Americans and advance themselves. There were laws that were erected as blocks that enabled racial segregation and even though we may say that the different races enjoy equal protection under the law, there are still visible disadvantages like when it comes to police brutality and employment. In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that public facilities that were racially segregated were legal as long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal in Plessy v Ferguon. This ruling by the highest court made it constitutionally acceptable that African Americans should not share the same schools and other facilities with the whites. The Jim Crow laws established the separate but equal doctrine that prevailed in the United States for six decades and segregation was legal. The colored people however fought to put an end to this segregation especially in public schools which culminated in the landmark case of Brown V Board of Education in 1954. This case was a great win for the colored community in America as it pronounced that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional. Many school boards that consisted of white members however did not receive this ruling well and failed to implement it. The African American community was not happy with the slow pace at which change was happening and they took to the streets led by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, Ella Baker and others. Even though Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, the Black Power Movements had emerged and they called foe political and economic equality. The government responded to these agitations by the black community with some affirmative actions for the black community in areas like college admissions and employment. However, these affirmative action plans were done away with in post racial America where it is supposed that race does not matter while it in fact does. Even with the election of Barack Obama as a black president of a white nation, the problems that African Americans face because of their color are still persistent.
After Brown v Board of Education, the Supreme Court held in Runyon v McCrary in 1976 that even private nonsectarian schools that practiced segregation by denying admission to students on the basis of race went against the federal civil rights laws. This was a ruling that followed the precedent that was set in Brown which was the legal precedent that was used to overturn laws that were used to enforce segregation and by the 1980s, the affirmative action had equalized college admission and attendance to a large extent.
Post-racial America and Barack Obama’s presidency
Barack Obama’s presidency was synonymous with success in attaining the end goal of the civil rights movement and gave pride to so many Americans since it was a sign that racial equality had finally been achieved. The president changed the perception that black Americans had about themselves and inspired millions of black people. Even his campaign experience showed that African Americans has gained some acceptance as political actors in the nation. During his presidency, Obama sought to satisfy the population that was consisted of different ethnic and racial groups though the use of color blind language which appealed to most Americans. The candidacy and victory of Barack Obama are celebrated as historic achievements up to this day. While Barack Obama was president, he envisioned an America that would not be divided on any basis whether it be the liberal or conservative America (MacLeod, 2018). The goal is to have an America where all people have access to equal opportunities regardless of whether they are black, white, Latino or Asian.
There are so many economic challenges facing the black American community which have been epitomized by visible racial disparities in unemployment and wealth. The gap between the races in unemployment shows the degree of discrimination in the labor markets in America. The economic challenges faced by African Americans are as a result of many forces stemming from inherent racial inequality and although it is argued that it is because of education differences while the economic disparities between blacks and whites who have the same level of education like a bachelors degree is clear. Even whites who have only completed high school have a higher employment rate than blacks who have gone through college which translates to differences in income and subsequently the different economic levels where the black community is disadvantaged. There is a great wealth divide when white households are compared to African American households and this is not only a matter of economics but a matter of social justice which needs attention as a priority when it comes to the broader economic policy. This is because even with the gains in other areas like educational attainment, there is no reflection of the same when it comes to income and employment disparities (Oliver, Melvin and Shapiro, 2013). Both income and wealth inequality contribute to the economic picture of the African Americans.
While the education gap has been closed to a large extent, there is still a prevalence of low levels of education among the African Americans. However, these low levels of education cannot account for the racial gap when it comes to unemployment. The real cause is discrimination. It is common knowledge that in the labor markets of America, black Americans are less likely to be employed when compared with members from other racial groups. The reasons for this has been attributed to educational attainment with the schools in majorly-black districts underperforming in standardized tests. Another possible reason is the mass incarceration of the African Americans with statistics showing that around one in three black men spend time behind bars at some period in their lives which greatly interferes with their employment prospects negatively. Outright discrimination is however a major reason since there is racism among employers who are mostly white.
Income, wealth and poverty
African Americans in the Unites States lag far behind the whites in economic well-being which is indicated in areas like wealth, income and home ownership. This trend has been continuous and the causative factors which are not addressed set the cycle in motion. These disparities persist regardless of the level of education that the black Americans attain. The historic practice of neighborhood segregation and redlining which saw lack of investments and financial and social services in communities that had a high percentage of black residents still continues. Even though the poverty gap has narrowed, the African Americans are still more likely to live in poverty and receive low incomes. The majority of those who seek for food help from the food banks are black people (MacLeod, 2013). Racial discrimination has been a major reason why some African Americans face a challenge getting ahead in the United States since they are treated unfairly when applying for services like mortgage and work.
While the law may make equal provisions for African Americans with the rest of the community living in the United States, the whole edifice of institutions both public and private is socialized in a way that disadvantages the African American community. The major reason of all the problems faced by the African American community is systemic racism which makes life harsh for the minorities. Many individuals on the giving end do not even discover this racial discrimination since it is accepted and considered as normal. Also among themselves, the lack of a family structure that has a majority of the African American children being illegitimate has affected the social fabric of the community negatively and results to psychological issues for the children later in life.
The social organization of the nation has seen the most dangerous cities to be those that have a high African American population. Cities like Oakland, Baltimore and Detroit that experience gang violence and crime as an everyday occurrence have African Americans making up the majority of the population. However, African Americans have overcome social discrimination in institutions like slavery and legalized racism by the Jim Crow laws up to the election of a black president. This means that also in social problems, there is continued progress which will translate into equal treatment over time even though it may take long.
While Brown v Board of Education was unanimous that segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional, the debate still continues as to how to deal with the racial inequalities that are inherent in the school system and are largely driven by residential patterns and differences in the resources available between the schools in the wealthier and economically disadvantaged regions across the nation.
Political issues, Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration
The African American community has been at the forefront when it comes to fighting the cause of equal rights for the black American. However when it comes to mainstream politics, in areas that matter the most like law making, the African American is at a disadvantage. There have been a trend of high profile questionable deaths that have involved the police which led to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. While the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, a disproportionate amount of these people are African Americans which can be seen as a new form of the Jim Crow segregation where blacks move from high school into prison (Marable, 2015).
African Americans still face problems when voting in spite of the 1965 voting rights act that gave them an equal protected opportunity to vote. The blacks go through discrimination in the voting process when they are asked for identification on a stricter basis than the whites. Sometimes, African Americans when trying to vote are confused with convicted felons because of the assumption that they have criminal tendencies (Ladson, Gloria and Williams, 2016).
It is no doubt that the African American community living in the United States has made significant strides towards achieving equality with their white counterparts. This has been reflected in the laws passed by congress as well as the rulings by the highest court in America. These advancements however do not reflect the same level of success when it comes to the social institutions. In education, employment and politics, there are still visible racial differences with the African Americans not being able to fully exercise their rights. These discrepancies may be attributed to many factors but it is evident that the African American community faces these challenges because of racism. The solution is to make the Americans aware of this culture that has been deeply embedded in the institutions in society so that it can be weeded out.