Analytical essay on racial segregation

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Introduction

The issue of racial segregation is deeply rooted in American politics and social debate. The famous names like Martin Luther King set the center stage for fighting for equal rights and the abolition of inequality based on race and gender. However, in light of the discourse that was initiated by Martin Luther King, the debate remains as to whether the issue of race and equality has achieved what King envisioned as equal America whereby the rights and plight of everyone mattered. King fought for his slogan of equality, championing the discourse of having all men as equal regardless of their color and as such, should be accorded the right to liberty life as well as pursuing happiness (Foner 777). Nonetheless, after fifty years since 1964 when the blacks as minority races were allowed the chance to vote, many argued that the minority races have seen or experienced progress as concerning the respect of their rights. Accordingly, in America, the question of race always revolves around the black community, but the respective governments have equally neglected the minority groups like the Red Indians. In this, the paper seeks to outline how race and equality has progressed in modern America, with a comparative analysis of the progress on race and equality for both African Americans and the Alaska natives with reference to the 1960s.

For the African Americans, progress has been made so far after fifty years of getting democracy. In this sense, progress has been made so, and as such, America is not viewed as the unbearable chasm that once existed. For example, the ushering of a Black president highlights the progress in racial equality. Besides, inclusion and racial interaction have improved, even the Deep South where racial relations were once constrained (DiTomaso 36). Improved ties between the blacks, as the most cited case of racism and segregation, is evident from the manner in which interracial marriages currently characterize America, especially between blacks and whites.

However, America has not entered the reckoning era where race and equality is entirely evident. Of particular concern is that a large number of the African Americans currently remain without jobs, most likely to get arrested, poor and are their rates of incarceration is very high and limited chances of education (DiTomaso 291). When compared to the 1960s, residential segregation of the blacks is currently on the decline, but from the current statistics, the problem is still persistent. For example, after many years fighting for the rights of the African Americans, the median wage gap is still wide between the whites and blacks. In this case, America still resembles the 1960s of the civil rights era although on a different scale. However, the way this discourse is championed has changed. In the 1960s, it was the role and concern for the people, in particular with the contributory efforts from people like Martin Luther King Jnr. In contemporary America, the question of race and equality is fought within the confines of the government, and as such, it has been the role of the government in putting incentives for ending instances of segregation and as such, repealing some of the racist laws (Francis 27). Another challenge is that although the discourse currently lies within the government, the particular role and contribution has remained unclear.

During the 1960s, King had laid four major grievances confronting the Africa American community, majorly focusing on discrimination by private businesses as well as the local government, barriers from voting, unfair police treatment and as such, economic opportunity and social mobility.  The signing of The Civil Right Act of 1964 was a significant mark towards addressing racial segregation in the spheres of economic participation, banning businesses from serving the public based on their race (Foner 770). The act also improved the accessibility to public facilities and as such, forcing the attorney general to sue all the local authorities to ensure school desegregation. The law also outlawed discrimination in employment and as such, led to the establishment of equal opportunity. The question of race in America cannot be complete without the mentioning of Voting Rights Act of 1965 that resulted in the improvement in the rights of African Americans and other minority groups, and as such, allowing blacks the opportunity to vote (Foner 776). However, the particular act is where African Americans have achieved a major progress as concerning racism and one of the significant strides that American has made since the 1960s. Currently, African Americans have the right to equal participation in elections; thus, an indication that after 50 years, America has progressed in respecting the civil rights of the minority citizens and not segregated based on race.

Despite the 196s setting, the pace for fighting against racial segregation in America, income inequality and disparity is a major concern. Particularly, there is the high disparity in median individual income, in particular among the non-Hispanic whites and blacks (DiTomaso 180). When compared to the whites, the median household wealth is quite high for the whites concerning their cash, homes, cars, investments and other assets.  Nonetheless, as many black children are poor, they are more inclined towards attending substandard schools and as such, have less likelihood of graduating from college in comparison to white children (DiTomas 48). Attending inferior schools implies that the future earning power of the black is reduced and as such, leading to over-representation of the black community to jobs with no retirement plans or benefits. The income disparity also implies that the minority races like blacks have less money for home-ownership and this leads to wealth gap based on race. In this sense, a major concern is that although civil rights movements of the 1960s focused on reducing disparity and segregation in the workplace and job opportunities, limited progress exist because most of the black community as the most segregated minority race are earning low and have little wealth or property ownership.

In comparison, the 1960s era was characterized by deeper residential segregation, but this problem persists in modern America. Of particular emphasis is that for the house ownership, white families are more likely to buy homes much earlier. In this regard, the situation has led to residential segregation for the black community, and in the modern context, it implies that many blacks are living in residents where homes worth less, and have slow value accrual in comparison to other areas (DiTomaso 81). The black property is riskier, and as such, the risks involved in property ownership is impeding from property ownership, especially for the mortgage. In retrospect, there was a major consideration for improving racial segregation in the 1960s (Foner 777). In comparison, the problem currently exist in modern America in the guise of residential segregation hence indicating that despite efforts aimed at addressing racial discrimination, only a little progress has been made since the 1960s and as such, a course for concern for the modern day America.

In the 1960s, Martin Luther King’s discourse was on fighting for the end to policemen harassment and mistreatment of blacks, examples including the Birmingham Match (Foner 771). However, racial profiling still mars the American judicial system, of which the current system is regarded as being overly punitive. Although the issue or question of black mobility during the 1960s was a major issue of concern, more still needs to be done as regarding the way blacks are treated. For example, there are high incarceration rates for the black community, and from the analytical perspective, it is being argued or asserted that African Americans have higher chances or likely to be arrested when they have committed the same crime as compared to the whites. Racial profiling in the judicial system is a major concern for the black community of which the population is currently decrying police harassment and shoot of unarmed individuals (DiTomaso 34). In addition, the question of race in the American judicial system is much aggravated, especially for those who have criminal records, they are most likely to face challenges and unfair treatments like being kicked out of public housing, losing their federal benefits as well as suffering significant or permanent gaps within earning prospects or employment sphere (Francis 45).

The problem of race and segregation is not only confined to the African Americans. Of particular emphasis is that minority groups like the Red Indians and Alaska Natives show how America is yet to confront the problem of equality based on race. For Alaska Natives and Red Indians, for instance, the focus of previous governments had been on providing them with sovereignty, but to a greater extent, they are currently facing inequality in all spheres of economic, educational and political participation (Perdue 3). In all the governments, policies for economic empowerment, for instance, have been limited on the Natives, more so, limited emphasis on the provision of policies that can increase their accessibility to job opportunities. A classic example is during George Bush’s era when only the sovereignty of natives mattered and as such, not focusing on such elements as their rights to accessing national resources. In part, the disparity in accessing resources shows America is still engrossed in the issue of race in creating opportunities for advancement and empowerment.

Tribal autonomy of the Red Indians is such a major challenge of which profound consideration is the extent to which successive governments interacted with the natives. For instance, federal funding is not equally distributed to the natives and from this development within the minority areas occupied by the natives is below average (Perdue 9). Another issue of grave concern is that there are limited chances for education, especially collegiate attainment. Little or scarce resources for learning are impeding learning and empowerment of the minorities of which the Red Indians and Alaska Natives have fallen victims. Besides, health care disparity shows how such is also decided based on race and ethnic background of which the minority Red Indians and Alaska natives are currently exposed to poor health and inaccessibility to health care facilities (Hoover et al. 1). Moreover, poverty is the characteristic of the Native American communities, more so the Hispanics who are also confounded by the problems of having to depend on government food programs.

Housing is another area of segregation with inadequate housing and maintenance that compromise their health and well-fare. High poverty levels, inequality in the accessibility of healthcare, limited chances for education as well as low employment rates or limited labor participation is a course for concern for the Native Americans thus indicating how racial segregation is still a problem in the United States (Perdue 6). Much emphasis has currently been directed towards the issue and concerns over gerrymandering that leads to the packing of the minority voters in districts with a small number of voters thereby excluding them from participating in general elections (Perdue 8). In this case, they are being denied the chance for political participation and freedom of expression. Hence, with all the challenges confronting the Native Americans, it shows that despite the civil rights movements of Martin Luther King Jnr., America is yet to confront or confound the problem of racial segregation of the minorities, a show of limited or little progress made so in the fight against discrimination and race inequality.

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In summary, the paper has outlined the extent to which American has progressed on the issue of race and equality.  Of particular emphasis is that when compared to the 1960s, there is some progress made. For instance, residential segregation has been limited, with the minority groups now having the chance to live and own property as the majority whites. Another stride is on civil rights, with minority races currently having opportunities for voting. On the other hand, a major concern is that despite these current developments, the end to racial segregation and divide that was being fought in the 1960s has not been achieved to the expected levels. Of particular concern is inequality in income, employment opportunities, educational attainment, racial profiling, unjust treatment of minorities, especially the African American community. Another issue of great concern is that residential segregation is the primary cause of the racial equality, especially the African Americans being forced to live in the low-income communities that also mean that their children are exposed to low-quality education. The same applies to the Native Americans, in particular for the Red Indians and Alaska natives facing segregation in health, education, employment opportunities, and political participation. Therefore, when compared to the 1960s, the current state of equality based on race has not achieved the expected levels since elements of racial inequality are evident among the minority races, but some progress has been made since the civil rights movement era.

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  1. DiTomaso, Nancy. The American non-dilemma: Racial inequality without racism. Russell Sage Foundation, 2013.
  2. Foner, Eric. Give me liberty! An American history: Fifth Edition, One Volume, Brief. W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. Print.
  3. Francis, Megan Ming. Civil rights and the making of the modern American State. Cambridge University Press, 2014.Print.
  4. Hoover, Elizabeth, et al. “Indigenous peoples of North America: Environmental exposures and reproductive justice.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 120.12 (2012):1.
  5. Perdue, Theda. “The legacy of Indian removal.” Journal of Southern History, 78. 1(2012): 3-36. Print.
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