Race relations have been a continuous part of the American history, from the horrors of slavery to the melting pot of immigration. Unfortunately, racism has become the focal point of interracial interaction, as any minority population faces challenges in a society dominated by the Caucasian race. Throughout history, racism has undertaken various forms. However, in contemporary times of supposed equality and acceptance, bigotry has become more covert and intractable. *Race relations in modern America are defined by institutionalized racism that has been masked under the means of microaggressions and political ignorance, with the only solution being a massive reform of social values.*
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The whole concept of race division is a social construct that has roots in the incriminating injustices of American history. The domination of socio-political and economic structures by the Caucasian race is unparalleled. Despite some progress of past decades in racial equality, with a recent political emergence of the Republican party the tensions are growing again. The politics of aggrieved whiteness, a concept that seeks to maintain a Caucasian hegemony in the social order, has gained traction.
There is a strong political context to this development. Liberalism is associated with profligacy, beholden to minorities. Meanwhile, conservatism seeks to encourage individual values of hard work and, by extension, equality for all. Furthermore, any attempt by the government to recognize racial inequality through policy or welfare programs comes under fire for supposed social injustice that puts whites at a disadvantage.
Consequently, there is fanatical support for forms of repression against racial groups, such as Muslims, illegal immigrants, and urban African-American communities. This approach to politics makes it ultimately impossible to overcome social injustice since any meaningful attempts to make a difference are obstructed by the status quo of white supremacy. Despite this, an average class Caucasian person feels like reverse anti-white racism is the dominant form of racial discrimination (King).
“Our brains are hardwired to think in terms of place and to associate psychic value or meaning to the places we inhabit” (Dickey 7). The racial divide in America is often visible most clearly in urban communities. Certain neighborhoods are a hive of existence for racial groups, as their culture takes root there. While in most of America communities are more mixed, there are still privileged neighborhoods which are predominantly white.
The minority race in an opposing community would experience social unease and even covert discrimination. The racial tension is evident as the communities seek to conserve the status quo of their demographics, creating a sense of tribalism (Vance). Race is a primary factor in the American class structure, which, in turn, instigates social segregation, even if it is unintentional.
There is an entrenched concept of institutionalized racism in the nation which is largely ignored for more easily vilified interpersonal prejudices. There is no consensus or medium where such controversial topics can be discussed, with racial groups radically disagreeing on basic issues and politicians using it as an electorate tool (Blow). Race relations in current society have become a carefully avoided issue filled with superficial illusions to mask its core motives.
In the novel The Underground Railroad, such a phenomenon is accurately described, “But nobody wanted to speak on the true disposition of the world…Truth was a changing display in a shop window, manipulated by hands when you weren’t looking, alluring and ever out of reach” (Whitehead 143). The pretense of racism not existing in the light of evidence of its devastating consequences has nothing but a derogatory effect to prevent it from being a recurrent issue.
The most typical exemplification of racial issues can be seen in social behavior. Racism exists both in institutions and personal prejudices. However, in most communities, outright racism is condemned or illegal; therefore, people begin to exhibit it covertly.
This happens subconsciously, as the societal way of thought has been embedded into behavior since childhood. Such daily behaviors and verbal interaction is a psychological concept that is essentially a clandestine expression of racism as racial groups are insulted and degraded. These may have a basis in the national origin, education, culture values, criminality, or even competency (Sehgal).
A prominent example, which is also evidence of institutionalized racism, is the recent spike in police violence against African-Americans. The disproportionate police intervention including racial minorities, and, consequently, their imprisonment is unjustifiable. The whole concept of the racial, social construct has pragmatic evidence here, as a racial profile is established around the black community. News and media outlets aid in this by showing a biased perspective of African-Americans as either involved or associated with criminality.
Consequently, society begins to exhibit prejudice and fear, in turn, leading to a conflict based on irrationality, creating a social crisis. Claudia Rankine frankly identifies this concept in her prose, “because white men can’t police their imagination, black people are dying” (135).
With the result of recent elections, racial tensions began to emerge. The new leadership despite its promises to unite the nation has done only the opposite to address issues facing minorities. Polls show that the majority of African-Americans think race relations are at a low point and only getting worse. There are obvious schisms in the perception of social justice amongst races. Obama at one point stated, “we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present” (Sack and Thee-Brenan).
The task to challenge white hegemony which instigates the racial tension begins with an honest conversation. By understanding history and accepting identity, socio-political structures will be morphed to create a truly egalitarian society. Such processes may take generations, but until then, the status quo will persist if people choose to be ignorant to injustice.
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Blow, Charles, “The State of Race in America.” New York Times. 2017. Web.
Dickey, Colin. Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. Viking, 2016.
King, Michael. ” Aggrieved Whiteness: White Identity Politics and Modern American Racial Formation.” Abolition Journal. 2017. Web.
Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press, 2014.
Sack, Kevin and Megan Thee-Brenan. “Poll Finds Most in U.S. Hold Dim View of Race Relations” New York Times. 2015. Web.
Sehgal, Priya. “Racial Microaggressions: The Everyday Assault.” American Psychiatric Association. 2016. Web.
Vance, James. “The Racial Conversation We’re Having Today is Tribalistic.” National Review. 2016. Web.
Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad. Doubleday, 2016.