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Racism In America Essay, Research Paper

Racism is an institution in America. It has existed since our Nations

beginning, and it is now woven into many facets of society. Historically, white

males have held all of the power positions in society. White males were the

doctors, lawyers, and policy makers. Although minorities hold some positions of

power today, white males still hold the majority of them. Despite legislation

that has attempted to alleviate inequality in America, The Department of Housing

and Urban Development maintains that, ?disparity in home ownership is still

great?(Washington Post, p.E10). Housing secretary Andrew M. Cuomo cites home

ownership rates of, ?72.5% for whites, 45% for African-Americans, and 44% for

Hispanic-Americans (Washington Post, p.E10). Home mortgage denial rates are,

?26% for whites and 53% for African-Americans? (Washington Post, p.E10).

Given the fore-mentioned statistics that obviously indicate racism, federal

housing officials launched a year long 7.5 million dollar study to investigate

the racist practices of mortgage lenders, landlords, and other housing

officials. Discrimination has become more sophisticated since the Fair Housing

Act became law 30 years ago, according to complaints from the department. Cuomo

commented, ?Then it was more in your face. Now it is not as loud, not as

flagrant, but just as devastating? (Washington Post, p.E10). The article,

?U.S. Study to Target Racism in Housing,? explains the link between

attitudes and behavior related to issues of power, inequality, and

discrimination. The racist attitudes of people in power, carry over to their

behavior, which result in the unfair treatment of minorities. One explanation

for this cycle is the Reasoned Action Model (text, p.240). The Reasoned Action

Model is a theory of social psychology that examines the relationship between

our attitudes and our behaviors. The theory suggests that our behaviors are best

predicted by our behavioral intentions. If a person intends to do something,

he/she is more likely to do it. According to the Reasoned Action Model, our

behavioral intentions are shaped by a person?s attitude toward the behavior

and their subjective norms. A person?s attitude toward a behavior is based

upon his/her beliefs and evaluations of the possible outcomes of a behavior. A

person’s subjective norms are comprised of his/her beliefs about what

significant others will say about the behavior and its outcome. Subjective norms

are also affected by the person?s motivation to comply with the wishes of

significant others. The behavior of housing officials who discriminate against

minorities can be explained using the Reasoned Action Model. Although the

majority of housing officials probably do not say, ?Today I intend to be a

racist,? their attitudes toward minorities cause them to behave in a racist

manner. A housing official who discriminates against minorities is doing so

because of his/her beliefs about possible outcomes of the behavior. What would

happen if minorities were awarded home mortgages? Racist housing officials are

not concerned about limiting where minorities will live. They are concerned

about what will happen to their communities if minorities are awarded home

mortgages. Housing officials are taking the issue personally. They are

wondering, ?What if they move into my neighborhood? What if they move into my

mother?s neighborhood? What if they attend school with my children?? These

housing officials also believe that they are protecting their families and

carrying out their wishes. Racism is simply fear that comes from ignorance. No

one will ever know every single person in a particular race, yet people tend to

judge people according to their personal beliefs about a particular race. Why do

some people feel like it is okay to judge an entire race based on stereotypes? A

stereotype is, ?a schema of beliefs that attributes a set of characteristics

to most or all members of a social identity? (text p. 454). Stereotypes are

typically inaccurate. Most stereotypes about minorities are negative. Racist

people use stereotypes as justification for having negative attitudes toward

minorities. Housing officials do not want minorities in their neighborhoods

because they believe that minorities will not keep up their property. They

believe that drugs and violence will enter their neighborhoods, and that the

house they paid so much for will lose its value. Some people actually believe

that African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans ruin safe, peaceful neighborhoods.

Stereotypes are perpetuated by American society. The media typically portrays

African-American and Hispanic-Americans as lazy, poor, and uneducated. Some

African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are lazy, poor, and uneducated. The

problem begins when the whole race is characterized negatively, and good people

have to suffer. Every American should have the right to be judged as an

individual. Another factor that contributes to the racist attitudes and behavior

of housing officials is stigmatization. Stigmatization is, ?the process by

which negatively evaluated attributes cause a person?s identity to be

discredited or spoiled? (text p.484). This means that racist housing officials

not only believe stereotypes about minorities, they believe that

African-American and Hispanic-Americans perpetuate negative images and deserve

to be treated unfairly. Stigmatization is used as a justification for

stereotypes. Stereotypes are used as a justification for racist attitudes, and

racist attitudes eventually become racist behavior. Federal housing officials

across the United States recognize that housing discrimination is a problem. I

wonder what they will specifically do to eradicate the problem. Unfortunately,

people are going to do what they belief is right even if it is not. Racist

people believe that having ?certain people? living in their neighborhoods is

a threat to their families. Racist attitudes are passed down from generation to

generation and they are further encouraged by American society. An investigation

into the racist practices of housing officials will probably help some, but

according to the Reasoned Action Model, attitudes have to change before

behaviors can change.

?U.S. Study to Target Racism in Housing.? The Washington Post. November

21, 1998. P.E10 Wiggins, Wiggins, and Vander Zanden. Social Psychology. New

York: McGraw Hill Inc., 1994. Paper Assignment #2 SOCY 230, McLaughlin November

24, 1998

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