23 November 2014
Despite the progress in eradicating racial prejudices between black and white Americans, racism is still a stumbling block in the United States. Racism has manifested into something that is not easily recognized, since earlier education about racism has focused primarily on the relationship between white and black Americans. However, the US population has seen a surge of multi culture migration. The Department of Homeland Security reports 1,130,818 Legal Permanent Residences in 2009, an increase of 2.1 percent from 2008. An individual who believes that racial segregation towards black Americans is wrong, may however, have a racially negative judgment of Arab Americans post 9/11, and not recognize this as racism. Current events such as the attempted Times Square bombing and the immigration debate have caused Americans to be suspicious of other cultures within the United States. Even though America needs to protect its borders, racial intolerance towards ethnic minorities should be recognized as destructive racism. Although racial judgments mutate, the strategy to combat racism through education and awareness ought to remain key.
The definition of racism is controversial among scholars. The text book definition of racism according to Webster-Merriam dictionary is “1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. 2: racial prejudice or discrimination”. To have a better understanding of the concept of racism, Darrell Simms describes practical racism as when people gather at a church service with others that worship with the same beliefs. While a church service is a place of worship and usually does not contain negative racial tones, Simms notes “we simply forget that other races and ethnicities exist”. Although Simm’s example of practical racism was not blatantly adverse, there are countless modern day examples of destructive racism. Defining who we are by what church group we belong to, what political group we support or what hobby groups we are active in does not generally reap destructive behavior. Sandra Parks believes that “We have shifted from concerns about segregation to issues of equity”. For example, Terry Jones a pastor on a small fundamental Christian church in Gainesville Florida drew numerous supporters and critics when he threatened to burn the Quran, as a demonstration against Islam. Although he did not carry out the demonstration, he exemplifies the idea that “Racism involves a prejudice and the motivation to act against an individual or a group believed to be inferior”.
American history repeatedly displays racial prejudices. Scholar Fred Jerome claims that the hard work and determination of civil rights fighters have dissolved the laws that accepts blatant bigotry; however: “America’s long river of racism is not so much dammed up as it is diverted” (1). The changes in racial attitudes in the last 50 years are visible. The election of an African American as President of the United States of America illustrates the progress in racial acceptance. Conversely, teacher Rita Verma points out hate crimes towards ethnic groups have increased since the 9/11 attack. She also claims that “there is a significant failure to disrupt emerging stereotypes”. News channel WTVR recently reported Spenser’s Gift shop sold t-shirts that were racially degrading towards undocumented migrants. The t-shirts created such outrage that they removed the t-shirts from the shelves. While the outrage shows positive signs towards racist intolerance, the fact that the t-shirts were manufactured and then sold shows bias. The target of racial discrimination in America has been diverted to ethnic groups creating news headlines.
Two main headlines in America today are the effects and consequences of the 9/11 attacks, and the debate over immigration reform. Not all