Ethnic Groups and Discrimination

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

health care.

???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
Axia College
[email protected]


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;33/3/379,

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.

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. .

What is environmental justice Do blacks want and really need it

Retrieved July 26, 200.