Racism has long been one of the biggest negative marks on American society. From the days of slavery, to the civil rights movements era, to the Rodney King incident, to today’s racial profiling, there has been an element of race and racism on many parts of American culture and history. Many changes have occurred for the better, from the integration of the schools, to breaking down the racial barriers in sports, and bettering employment hiring practices to incorporate more minorities in certain areas of the workforce. However, there is no denying that racism still does very much exist in the country. A lot of time is spent thinking and talking about what happens because of racism, or bringing up racism when something happens that has the slightest tinge of racism involved in it. But, why is it that racism is still one of America’s eyesores?
History definitely plays a big role in racism’s existence. There are many people who still keep alive the same historic stereotypes about other ethnic groups that existed centuries and even decades ago about what other ethnic and racial groups were and could do. On the same token, many minorities still harbor a great deal of resentment towards whites because of the things that their ancestors had to deal with at the hands of their white ‘superiors.’
Speaking of those stereotypes, they have a great influence on people’s feelings towards others. There are a lot of negative stereotypes that exist between races, some of which that are more deeply entrenched in personal prejudices than others, but still carry a racial overtone nonetheless. From a white person thinking that a black man is a drug dealer or rapist, or a black person thinking that every white person is out to do them harm, or people thinking that every Hispanic person in the country is here illegally, stereotypes persist throughout America. Some of them are generalizations or even ‘compliments’ that are racially based, such as relations towards the specific talents of certain groups. These comments aren’t necessarily as ‘racist’ as saying the infamous ‘n’ word might be, but they do little to remove the fact that race plays such an important part with people. The media furthers stereotypes, from television shows, to music videos, to the news, and it might not always be in seriousness, as many comedians base their acts on racial humor, but some people don’t properly rationalize things that they see in that context.
Lack of diversity and cultural experience also plays a significant role in racism. Some people grow up in areas where they see only a small amount of people from groups other than their own, and often enough, that limited exposure is negative, and that does not help at all in forming a decent opinion of other groups and cultures. The world is far more than white, and far more than black and white, but some people don’t seem to be fully aware of that. And some people just choose not to be aware, and that’s yet another reason why racism is still prevalent.
So what can be done to further improve the erasure of racism? Part of it involves simple evolution as people. As times have changed, so have people, and that is something that will continue to be so, as long as people are open to it. Some of the changes are by force, such as integration, but sometimes, force is the only way that people can be motivated to change, because of the eye-opening effects of it. Diversity is basically unavoidable, but some people go out of the way to segregate themselves, and more people need to open themselves up to the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with diversity, and that opening yourself to more people, more experiences, more cultures, can only have a positive benefit on your life in the long run. The media’s perpetration of racial stereotypes also needs to be addressed, from the way that television shows are cast, to the fact that minorities are often poorly represented in the various forms of mass media. Acceptance is also huge. People must be more accepting and tolerant of others and of their differences, and also, transgressions of the past must be accepted and moved on from. Forgotten? No, because some parts of history just can’t be forgotten. But, people must see people for who they are, and not for who their ancestors might have been or might have done.
Racism may never be completely stamped out. It’s an unfortunate fact, but hate will be a part of people as long as they’re imperfect, and that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. However, it’s something that, through time, has been addressed and bettered, to the point where people are far more freely associating with each other than they were just a few decades ago. That improvement is something that must not be stopped short, just because there have been some positive changes. With all of the increasing diversity in the United States, racism should not have its place among people and society. It could be said that it may provide a balance between all of the good about people, and that may be true, but regardless of the why’s, how’s, and other questions and answers about racism, it’s something that we must all do our part individually and collectively to squash.
“Tackling the roots of racism: lessons for success.” Nov. 2005. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 28
Nov. 2006 <https://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/0535.asp>.