The community today has gone through periods of stratification by race, whereby the dark-skinned and light-skinned people had different lifestyles. These divisions are based on their physical appearance such as skin color or hair texture which leads to variation in societal perceptions and status. The dark-skinned people felt that their skin color affected their position in the society. Through experimentation using the “doll test” conducted by Dr. Clark, it was evident that the segregation of an individual has psychological effects on them. When children were presented with a white and brown doll, over 70 percent chose the white one as ‘good’ and the brown one as the ‘bad one’ (California Newsreel). The community has constructs that limit interactions and participation based on one’s skin, eyes, or hair color. Due to these differences, the identity of Black people in particular has been seen as inferior and it has been ingrained in the minds of many people from an early stage in life.
The lifestyle of people in the society reflects on the life choices and decisions they make. Due to segregation, the African America people were not able to secure well-paying jobs in the market, as well as live in upscale houses. Using the “one drop rule,” all the people with Black ancestry were treated differently and considered as lower non-white citizens by the standards of the law. In the case of Brown vs. the Education board of District of Topeka, Oliver Brown, together with other students from various districts, challenged the inequality posed by segregation in schools and different services offered such as use of school transport (Cottrol,). The Supreme court ruled against the segregation and advocated for equal right in line with the Fourteen Amendment of the constitution. Similarly, the brown paper bag test was used in the African-American community to propagate ranking by skin tone color. The use of a brown paper bag was applied to determine if a person qualified for certain privileges. This was determined by holding a brown paper bag against their skin to see where they were lighter or same shade as the paper (Kerr). The practice led to the formation of classes among the Black community.
Affirmative action refers to laws and guidelines which are put in place to deal with the effects of a practice in society that is discriminative. The practices that diminish the rights of the minority groups are regulated by the government or institutional body. The term gerrymandering refers to practices of rearranging electoral districts in the United States in a way that limits the legislative rights of the people in the area. This practice has been used in several states to compromise the effectiveness of the minority groups in the voting process. Affirmative action policies have been applied in many states across the country to stop racial gerrymandering and protect the rights of the minority groups. Laws have been put in place to ensure that boundary lines such that the people in the district are able to vote in leaders of their choice.
There have been cases presented to the courts for affirmative action such as the case of Fisher vs. University of Texas, no 14-981, whereby Fisher stated that the university had denied her admission based on racial basis. The court ruled in the university’s favor, stating that education institutions should offer equal opportunity for all students but retain racial profiling for equality among the student body (Supreme Court). In an earlier case involving Barbara Grutter v. Bollinger et al., the petitioner challenged the admissions policy of the University of Michigan School of Law stating that the race factor was unlawful (LII). The ruling was in favor of the University stating that considering the race ensured that the student population was balanced through admission of qualified students from minority groups. The cases upheld the affirmative action policy which stands in favor of student diversity in educational institutions through the admissions board.
Cases have also been brought forth which were against the affirmative action policies such as Meredith v. Jefferson Junior Education Board. The case challenged the admission policy that required the schools in the district to have a minimum Black student population of 15 percent but not more than 50 percent. The parents argued that the policy was not specifically tailored and did not uphold a compelling government interest (Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education). The court argued that the policy was unconstitutional and violated the fourteenth amendment that promotes equal rights for all people.
According to Ellis, the fighters are those African Americans who initiated the fight for equal rights and treatment in the community. These were the first generation to push for equality in terms of employment opportunities, housing zones, school districts, social ranking, and civil rights. The next generation comprised of the dreamers, those who were optimistic and envisioned a society without racial profiling and where everyone was blind to skin color. The struggle was for an end to injustices and segregation onto a society where all people would enjoy equal rights as stipulated in the constitution. The third Generation, as referred to by Cose refers to new millennials in the African American society who are enjoying the leadership, power, and prominence in the society. The dreamers are encouraged by former president Obama who won top leadership position in the country and supported the constitutional rights of every individual to enjoy equal protection.
The civil rights movement involved organized groups of African Americans who championed for their legal rights through non-violent measures. The goal of the movement in 1960 to 1968 aimed to secure the rights which other American already enjoyed such as freedom to quality education. The strategies employed included boycotts and open refusal to adhere to unfair rules and for a fair voting process. The activist among the African Americans advocated for desegregation in schools, workplaces, transportation, public services, as well as the right to quality education and health care. The movement’s strategies were similar to the Black Lives Matters movement which stands for non-violence towards the African Americans and against racial profiling. The Black Lives Matters movement, which started in 2003, continues to-date and holds online protests to advocate for equal treatment and freedom from injustices for the Blacks. Both movements used boycotts and similar methods to achieve their set goals by gaining government acknowledgement and bringing change and action towards their plight. However, the two movements have differences in the form on actualization whereby the Civil Rights Movement used physical meetings to pass their message, unlike the Black Lives Matters movement whose message is passed through online platforms.
The online campaigns and protests against killings and injustices towards the African Americans gain national audience at a faster pace, unlike the methods used by the activist in the Civil Rights Movement of printed flyers or communication through word of mouth. Technology has changed how things are done including championing for equal rights for every American despite their race. The strategies are different but the aim remains the same and the rights of the African Americans are being addressed at national level.
The African Americans came up with a genre of music to uniquely express themselves through rap. Rap music, which emerged in the late 1970s, involves a systematic pattern of rhyming words and a background of repeating beats. The music is mainly thematic and has a particular flow and form of delivery which makes it attractive to Blacks. The rap music involves instrumental accompaniment which is played by a disc joker (DJ), as well as other instrumentalists. The music come before the Hip-Hop culture which comprises the rap music, DJ-ing, and graffiti art. The culture is more expressive and incorporates fashion and a certain form of dancing known as break-dancing. The hip hop culture has gained popularity among the African America since the message contained is informative and addresses some issues which need to be addressed. It fosters unity in the community and offers an avenue for African Americans to showcase their talent.
Crime rates in urban cities have been on the rise and law enforcement agencies have implemented strategies to combat the trend. Through community policing, security officers are able to receive alerts of crimes before they happen providing enough time to prevent them. The community is involved in surveillance and is requested to report any suspicious activities which might lead to a crime. In New Orleans and Louisiana, the levels of crime such as burglary have reduced and the cities are safer for the residents. Internalizing the crime reduction policies in the community helps to change the mindset of the people towards police officers and are assured of their safety and protection.
Another strategy employed to reduce crime is the stop-and-frisk policy where police officers can temporarily detain suspicious residents to check them for weapons or illegal substances. The practice is common in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey where it has had the effect of reducing the cases of street violence and shootings. The strategy has faced opposition from some people who consider it as a tool for racial profiling. The ‘stand your ground’ rule allows a defendant to retain their right of staying at a place they perceive to be safe without having to retreat or escape in a criminal case. It allows the use of force in an effort to protect oneself and others who might be in danger from a threat or an imminent threat.
Microaggresion refers to the degradation of a minority group in the society by using harsh words to offend someone either intentionally or non-intentionally. The comments made by an individual might reinforce a stereotype which has been propagated in the society targeting a certain people group.
|Theme||Microaggression Example||Implicit Message|
|1) Criminality: A person is presumed to be dangerous, criminal, or deviant based on their race, nationality and/or sexual orientation||A white woman walking while clutching her bag when in a black neighborhood||African Americans are robbers.|
|2)Denial of individual prejudice: A statement made by those with social privilege to deny that they have that privilege or any oppressive thinking||A person commenting “Am not privileged, I just happen to work hard for my achievements”||Some people have certain privileges owing to their race.|
|3)Myth of meritocracy: Statements which assert that race, class, gender, abilities or sexual orientation do not play a role in life success||“Women should work just as hard as men, if they want to attain the same positions in an organization”||Women get some positions based on their gender and not their effort|
|4)Religious or cultural superiority: When a person assumes that their race, religion, or culture (broadly defined) is better than others’||A person in a public area comments, “I don’t feel safe with Muslims walking around covered up like that.”||Muslims are thought to cause terror and their dressing can be used to conceal weapons.|
|5)Environmental microaggressions: Ways in which larger systems beyond the individual realm (such as institutional policies and practices) work to maintain systems of privilege and oppression||Having artifacts and relics in a museum, all of which are identified with white people.||People of color have no contribution in history or have nothing to be celebrated or remembered with.|
California Newsreel. “A Question of Color.” 16 Nov. 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNVq3adFXGY.
Cottrol, R. J. “Brown v. Board of Education – Federalism in America.” 2006, encyclopedia.federalism.org/index.php?title=Brown_v._Board_of_Education.
Kerr, A. E. “African Americans: Race Identity.” The Paper BAg Principle, 3rd ed., 2006, www.utpress.com.
Legal Information Institute. “GRUTTER V. BOLLINGER.” 2003, www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-241.ZO.html.
Supreme Court. “Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin et al. ET AL.” 2015, www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-981_4g15.pdf.