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Racism Institutionalize Essay, Research Paper
United States of America is not a country for one specific group of people such as French, China, or Angola. Instead, many of these people come to United States to live. Under one roof, all these different groups have to coexist for this country to function properly. As a result of interaction between groups of different background, race, tension develops. Soon, it becomes a personal dislike from one member of one group for members of another group. While these feeling are unavoidable and sometimes understandable, it is unacceptable to institutionalize these feelings and make it an acceptable part of society. Yet, this has existed and prospered in the social fabric of America since the day of slavery. Black Americans, victims of this institution of racism, have tried to change the system through legal means, and protest. The government has responded through legislation such as Civil Right Act of 1965 and Affirmative Action. These policies have faced opposition from some white Americans, but Justice Blackmun said, “In order to beyond racism, we must take account of race.” The institution of racism has targeted minority Americans as its victim by denying them the opportunity that everyone else have such as making a living. Those policies address this problem by using race, rightfully, to identify who is the victim of racism, and discrimination.
Racism has plagued the public education system long before Brown vs. Board of Education. Segregation has led to underfunded school that has no tools to teach children in black-dominated area. State and local government use property tax to determine the amount of fund a school gets. However, properties in black-dominated area are either run-down, or have low value. As a result, underfunded schools lead to underfunded education that gives black students no skill to make a living. Very few of them will be able to get out of the poverty cycle that has plagued their parents. After Brown vs. Board of Education, mandatory busing has tried to bring black students to white dominated neighborhood school, and also bring white students to urban school. This policy has given black students access to school that has better facilities and equipment. It has forced states and locals government to give more funds to urban school. Many white parents have refused to send their children to urban school for countless reason. They have a valid claim that busing violates their personal freedom. The court has to decide between two conflicting interests, whether to give equal access to one group at the expense of one individual’s personal freedom. After deciding in favor of equal opportunity, the court has tried to enforce the decision by mandatory busing, and it has even used the National Guard to escort black students to white school. However, it did not require states to change their school overnight.
State and local government then began to have gradual mandatory busing. However, gradualism has watered down the effort of true integration. Juan Williams, Thurgood Marshall’s biographer, has said on C-span that Marshall has regretted for not having demanding more aggressively for rapid integration. Today, due to the court keep chipping away part and part of Brown vs. Board of education, school integration and busing remain far and few.
State and local government have almost stopped funding for mandatory busing. As a result, public school has become as segregated as ever and the accomplishment of Brown vs. Board of Education has vanished. In its place are programs such as magnet, school choice, voluntary enrollment, or voucher. However, these programs fall far short the goal of equal access, and integration. Magnet, school choice, or voluntary busing promise to bring diversity to school. However, these programs only bring children from urban school into suburban school. White parents will not risk sending their children to urban school for reasonable fear of drugs, crime, or lack of educational equipment. Suburban schools will end up getting more money, and urban schools will keep losing money and students. Since these programs have a quota of how many student can enroll, the majority of students cannot enroll. These unfortunate ones will have to settle for a school that lacks money at their neighborhood. So, these programs only allow a selected few to have an opportunity that students in suburban schools have. Another program is voucher that promotes to give poor minority students a chance for quality education at a private school. However, voucher works much better for a middle class white family trying to get into an exclusive private school than a poor black family. The voucher system determines how much to give by looking at the property tax of a family. If a family is poor, the voucher for that family will not have much worth. Since poor family cannot put much more money into their voucher, voucher program eliminates poor minority families as its recipients, contrary to what it promotes.
While voting is considered by many as a personal choice, special interest groups working to ensure representation for minorities have dominated the election process. Sometimes, this helps minorities but can also hurt them. The common method for ensuring minority representation is racial districting. White Americans had used racial districting method such as “cracking” or “stacking” to eliminate black votes at first (Swain 426). These methods give minorities no representation or hope of electing a candidate that is friendly toward minorities. Since court has ruled against “stacking” or “cracking”, racial districting has appeared of the form “packing” in recent years (Swain 426). Even though packing surely gives minorities representation, it has diminished the voting power of minorities. In 1991, 15 of the 27 seats held by black politicians have a black population of over 50 percents (Swain 423). This packing of black voters has led to poor turnout and poor performance. For example, one 13 percents of black in Major Owen’s district vote in 1986 (Swain 423). Poor performance also contributes to the problem due to an automatic reelection of a black politician in a black majority district. So packing has its benefit in term of ensuring black representation but it also wastes the vote of black Americans. Major Owen surely would have won his district even if it were only 40 percents to 45 percents black. The remaining black voters should move to another district where they can vote for another candidate that will work for their interest. Ironically, the Republican Party appears to be benefited from packing. It has been very supportive of packing that involves large black district. Even if it ensures the election of a black Democrat, it allows the Republican to compete at the new district that has been drained of black Democrats (Swain 405). This makes the election more racially polarized. So the symbol of democracy, the Congress, will also be the most segregated as Republican tries to portray Democrat as a party of black’s interest.
Swain names the two most promising alternative method for packing are black representation in majority white district and voting for white candidates that can represent the interest of blacks (Swain 431). There has been many doubts that black candidates cannot win in a majority white district. However the election of Governor Wilder, Mayor Bradley, has proved otherwise. Black politicians has proved that they can both represent racial interest and their white constituent such as Louis Stokes (Swain 430). Black voters must not forget there are white politicians that can be as good a black politician such as Gephardt, Kennedy. Minority voters can only benefit from these two methods. First, it allows black politicians to look beyond the House of Representative for a higher office such as the Senate or may be the presidency. Second, it fosters a coalition with other racial and ethnic group (Swain 433). This will expand the representation of Black Americans. These two methods go beyond blaming white people or society for racism by reaching out to white people to combat it. Black and minorities need the help of white politicians and activist who are in a position to make a difference. Only then, the goal of racial equality will be achieved.
Racism has tried to exclude minorities from public school and voting. Now, it has turned to another target, the college system in America. Public colleges in America have always used Affirmative Action to determine admission. This program has given minorities an opportunity to seek higher education. It does not promote under-qualification but instead, it will level the playing field for people who are capable of taking the advantage of opportunities that has denied them because of their gender or ethnicity (Patterson 443). When Affirmative Action is examined alone in term of college admission, it has mixed success. For example, the number of Asian students at Berkeley is half of the student body, whereas blacks and Hispanics continue to stagger. This program has come under the attack of conservatives who label it as reverse discrimination. Justice Scalia call it as “racial preferences appear to even the score” (Siegel 458). Conservatives have completely overlooked the fact that being white is a privilege that other minorities do not have. White men control 99.9 percents of all the important top position in this country, so what they do from hiring employee, or drafting policy will tend to benefit white people. This is just a normal pattern of human behavior (Patterson 449). Affirmative Action’s goal is to correct this problem but it is on the verge of extinction because of proposition 209, or Hopwood vs. Texas. As a result, black admission drop from 65 to 11 in the year following the court case Hopwood vs. Texas. We have seen that effect spreads to UCSD where the number of black students can be measured by finger counting.
Opponent of Affirmative Action in college admission has called for using a class-based initiative to determine college admission. They have claimed Affirmative Action not only hurts whites but also Asian Americans. A class based initiative can only help with diversity and does not have the reverse discrimination element that Affirmative Action appears to have. Nonetheless, research has shown Asian American enrollment will increase, white will stay the same, black and Hispanic will decrease if socioeconomic status is used to determine admission (Omi and Takagi 438). The result shows the University of California will be more racially polarized if this plan is implemented. It will generate hostility toward Asian Americans from whites and other minority groups because this plan clearly give Asian American an advantage, unlike Affirmative Action. For a plan that promise diversity, it will end up hurting the diversity makeup of University of California because it deletes race as a factor for consideration. Therefore, minority groups beside Asian American will be denied from an opportunity for higher education.
To promote diversity and equal opportunity, race must be taken into consideration because it allows us to identify the victim of racism, who has been denied the opportunity he is entitled to. Without race, how do we know who or where is the victim? Justice Blackmun has said “to get beyond racism, we must take account of race”. This signifies a shift from protecting individual to protecting a certain group. As a result, race based policies such as Affirmative Action and school desegregation was created. They have helped protecting minority from racism and leveling the playing field. They have forced the public sector and private sector to give minorities equal opportunity because minorities do not have the privilege of being white. The white establishment, without government intervention will extend it hands only to those similar to its. Those policies remedy this preference. Critics of race based policies claim these policies practice reverse discrimination. They want a colorblind policy to be implement instead. However, colorblind policy assumes society to be free of racism and discrimination toward minorities. Statistics have shown otherwise from the low college enrollment of black to the lack of minority in the top position. Colorblind policy will give the control back to the white establishment. Then, discrimination, intentionally or unintentionally, will be directed toward minorities will be much more visible similar to the pre-Civil Right period. In this case, racism cannot be blamed because the people in the establishment are “colorblind”. It is ironic that a colorblind policy, the goal of the civil right movement, will end up nullifying the legacy of the civil right movement because colorblind is a policy ahead of its time.
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