Ethnic Groups and Discrimination
Racism as a social invention in and of itself became a breeding ground for many of the
social ills of today, such as, racial profiling, capital punishment, police brutality, predatory
lending, No Child Left Behind, welfare reform, affirmative action and racial disparities in
healthcare, academic achievement and home ownership.
I personally belong to the African American ethnic group. We never colonized another
group of individuals nor did we immigrate to this country. During the 15h and 16th centuries, the
Portuguese, Dutch and English realized the profit value that a market in human capital would
provide and decided to travel to Africa to enslave and export from their homeland millions of its
inhabitants as slave labor for distribution to the West Indian sugar plantations, and the cotton and
tobacco plantations of the colonies in the New World. My ancestors were packed like sardines
in the hulls of slave ships under the most horrible conditions imaginable. As many as 1.5 million
perished as a result of illness, suicide, insurrection, and sometimes murder by example (Rediker,
Survivors of the voyage were dropped of the boat into a racist social structure where
Whites felt that God had deemed them inherently superior to others. Considered non-human and
treated as property, Africans were auctioned or sold for rum and sugar that was sent back to
England. They could not possess property, marry or enter into contracts, and had to abide by
many laws or be punished if those laws were broken. Africans were punished for the slightest
infraction; running away would most likely be a death sentence, with almost no exception. The
Africans??™ ethnic category was obvious, and cinched their place as a subordinate group who
would endure a combination of racism (described above), prejudice (inherently hated, despised
and feared by whites for no apparent reason other than being black), and segregation (physically
separated in workplace, residence and social functions) for the next 400 years.
African-Americans suffered the inequality that exists in the labor market and were not
privy to the primary labor market with its high incomes, fringe benefits and job security.
Limited education options forced African-Americans to participate in the secondary labor market
and to pursue low or unskilled jobs with low returns to education or experience, little training
and even less job security than their White counterparts. Dual labor market practices prevented
African-Americans from obtaining a substantive pay structure and benefits. As a result, they
were forced to live in substandard housing in distressed neighborhoods with poor access to
???African-Americans and the poor are often forced to take on an unfair share of the costs
and sacrifices that must be made to meet the government??™s environmental regulations??? (Center
for Environmental Justice, 2009). In 1910, African-Americans owned 218, 972 farms. By 1914,
55 black banks were in operation to assist with financing. By 1992, after African-Americans
began to move northward after WWI and WWII, The Great Depression, and farms essentially
stolen from black farmers through deceptive financial practices the numbers of black farms
dropped to 2,498 (Center for Environmental Justice, 2009).
Affirmative action was intended to remedy racial exclusion practices by putting policies
and initiatives in place to combat and eliminate discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion,
or national origin. These equal protection laws were passed to make discrimination illegal, but
have met with opposition on the grounds of ???reverse discrimination and unwarranted
preferences??? (Sykes, M.)
African-Americans were among the victims of the redlining practices of mortgage
lenders who refused to make loans on any properties in neighborhoods they considered to have
an undesirable population or an infiltration of it which would cause an area to be sentenced to
death because of its ethnicity. Research has even shown racial inequities in the use of
institutionalized care for elderly African-Americans who were admitted to nursing homes
between half and three quarters of the rate of elderly whites (Belgrave, L.L., Wykle, M.L. &
Choi, J.M., 1993). African-Americans are still victims of racial profiling by police, the housing
industry, schools systems, retail stores, and many other public institutions. Sociologist, author
and Professor of African American and African Studies at Ohio State University, K. Sue Jewell,
states that ???the federal government??™s programs designed to help the disadvantaged have not only
failed to help African Americans, but nearly forty years later they may have left many African
American families worse off than they were before???. She also argues that policies put in place
by both liberals and conservatives since the 1960s may have done more harm than good to Black
institutions without bettering the situation of the disadvantaged.
Regarding my own cultural identification, I identify with both equally. I am an
Emmett J. Nixon
Belgrave, LL, Wykle, ML, Choi, JM
Health, double jeopardy, and culture: the use of institutionalization by African-
Americans, Gerontologist 1993 33: 379-385, Retrieved July 26, 2009
Davis, K, & Moore, W.E. (1945). Some principles of stratification. American
Sociological Review. 10, 242-249
Jewell, K.S., Survival of the african-american family: the institutional impact of u.s. social
policy (Praeger, 2003). Retrieved July 26, 2009
Rediker, M. (2007). The slave ship, a human history. Viking Press. Penguin Group.
October 4, Retrieved July 26, 2009.
Sykes, M., National NOW Times, August 1995.
Retrieved July 26, 2009. http://www.now.org/nnt/08-95/affirmhs.html.
The home owners loan corporation, Retrieved July 26, 2009
Timeline, web site of the Public Broadcasting Service series “Homecoming… Sometimes
I am Haunted by Memories of Red Dirt and Clay,”
Retrieved July 26, 2009. http://www.pbs.org/homecoming/timeline.html. .
What is environmental justice Do blacks want and really need it
Retrieved July 26, 200. http://www.nationalcenter.org/CEJ.html.