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Racism: An Infectious Disease Of America

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Racism has been in existence since the 20th century and since its creation, has been at the center of human interaction (Smedley 2017). What is racism? Racism, also called racialism, any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview—the ideology that humans may be divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races”; that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural and behavioral features; and that some races are innately superior to others (Smedley 2017). According to Smedley, those who openly professed or practiced racism held that members of low-status races should be limited to low-status jobs and that members of the dominant race should have exclusive access to political power, economic resources, high-status jobs, and unrestricted civil rights. Arif Dirlik states that “racism is globalized in the manner of infectious disease as it derives renewed energy from the mixing of populations through migration, and the vocabulary of race blurs the distinction between racial and cultural differences in the language of global politics.” Racism is an ideology that continues to affect the way people measure other people’s social, intellectual and economic worth.

As a result of the powerful influences of colonization racism invisible in our society. Racism affects our society. According to Dirlik“ While the persistence in the United States of the historical legacies of racism may not be visible in the presidential race or at Harvard fashion shows, it is there to see on the street and in schools and prisons.” Racism is mostly seen among social groups. According to a study done by the United States Department of Education, “ Black students are 1.9 times as likely to be expelled from school and are 2.3 times more likely to be disciplined through law enforcement than their White peers”. According to the US Census Bureau, “people of color experience discrimination at every stage of the judicial system and are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, harshly sentenced and saddled with a lifelong criminal record. This is particularly the case for drug law violations.” The US Census Bureau also mentioned that the black population makes up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, and they are documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races, but the black population consists of 29 percent of those arrested for drug law violations, and nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated in state or federal prison for drug law violations (Drug .P. Alliance 2018). The black population is being targeted simply because they are labeled as being criminals because of the color of their skin. Although the Latino community is also being targeted by the police they have a lower percentage than the black population (Drug .P. Alliance 2018). This emotionally affects people that are colored. In some cases, they are people of color who decide that they are white and racist toward their own culture. This is called Internalized racism. According to Nadra Nittle, “In a society where racial prejudice thrives in politics, communities, institutions and popular culture, it’s difficult for racial minorities to avoid absorbing the racist messages that constantly bombard them. Thus, people of color sometimes adopt a white supremacist mindset that results in self-hatred and hatred of their respective racial group.” This simply means that because of racism in society people of color sometimes tend to feel a lack of self-worth and, as a result, turn on themselves and others. On a recent Dr. Phil show, a black teenager came on the show and told everyone that she is white and she hates black people (Callahan 2018). The mother stated that: “My daughter is a racist against her race,” she says, stating that Treasure is “consumed with” the Ku Klux Klan. If you ask me, my 16-year-old daughter has a very out-of-control identity crisis. She truly believes she’s white.” This is exactly the kind of conflict that arises because of racism. Because society criticizes people by the color of their skin, some people become racist towards their own culture.

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Racism affects the way people estimate each other’s intellectual worth. People tend to think that if you are not white or Asian you are unintelligent. Some black students at Ridgewood highschool were interviewed and they stated that they didn’t feel comfortable in their classes because the teacher didn’t think they were capable of learning (Joseph 2016). In another instance, Kishanna a student at Ridgewood told the interviewer that her grandmother told her that “It is better to cause controversy than to be quiet.” Kih=shanna also mentions that “being oneself illustrates how being someone with great intellect and the ability to do well in school is a way to disrupt racism with teachers and inside of schools.”(Joseph 2016) Meaning it is better to be yourself and have self-determination. According to CNBC news, President Donald Trump once said, “Black people are too stupid to vote for me,” and suggested that all countries run by blacks are “s—holes,” Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen says in a new interview. This racist ideology is visible, especially in politics. The mere fact that society judges your intelligence based on skin color lowers self-worth. According to John McWhorter, “in the supreme court decision in 1978, justice lewis Powell concurred with four other justices that quota systems like David ‘s were unconstitutional. He submitted however that it was nonetheless appropriate for schools to base admissions decisions on a quest for a “diverse student body”. After this argument, it was soon admitted that black students had significantly lower qualifications than white or Asians students. The university hid this by hiding behind “diversity” (McWhorter 2003). McWhorter also implied a black separatist ideology had led to the idea that scholastic achievement was a “white” endeavor rather than a human one. It even got to the point where black kids started teasing other black kids who enjoyed doing their school work. They told them that they were acting “white”. It is because of this ideology that the success rates for black students are low and they lack qualifications for top schools (McWhorter 2003). Ideology such as this devalues other races and create a barrier in society.

Racism affects the way people estimate each other economic worth. The consequence of drug law violations has been strictly enforced. Once you have been incarcerated you can no longer have custody over your child, employment, voting rights, business loans, licensing, student aid, public housing or any other public assistance ( Drug .P. Alliance 2003). This punishment makes it difficult to gain status in society. According to the US Census Bureau, “Criminal records often result in the deportation of legal residents or denial of entry for noncitizens trying to visit the U.S. Even if a person does not face jail or prison time, a drug conviction often imposes a lifelong ban on many aspects of social, economic and political life.” According to McWhorter, “in the last class admitted to Berkely under the racial preference regime, more than 65 percent came from households earning at least 40,000 a year, while the parents of about 40 percent earned 60,000 a year. Of black students admitted in 1989 to 28 selective universities surveyed by Bowen and Bo, Only 14 percent came from homes earning 22,000 a year or less.” However, the whites still found a way to victimize the middle-class blacks. They still cling to the stereotype that all blacks are poor (McWhorter 2003). The United States of America is the number one market for Belizean during the Christmas holiday. Nancy Lundgren States that: “ Christmas is celebrated enthusiastically in Belize, and the most opulent array of merchandise is exhibited at this time. It is also at this time that one is almost completely aware of the impact of the United States upon the culture of Belize as a result of its increased economic interest in the region.” When the British had control over Belize, the U.S.had less influence on culture. This means that the U.S couldn’t control Belize’s economy because Belize was apart of Britain. However, as Belize became independent and the United States became more involved in Belize’s economy, the cultural influences grew (Lundgren 1992). This example is just to show how easy it is to idolize America. Belizean’s shop for toys and appliances in America other than supporting other Belizeans. This indeed affects Belize’s as well as other country’s economic worth. Lundgren argues that “Belizeans are free to create their reality and to make meaning of their everyday lives, but they are not free to make it any way they wish. Meaning is created out of a real social, political, and historical context, which is created for, not by individuals and which limits and constrains human potential.” They are told to study and work hard and eventually they are going to be rich and successful. The way the system is set up, you will more than likely die trying (Lundgren 1992). When Belize was colonized by the British they exported logwood from Belize and drained their economic resources. After Belize gained its independence they still relied on imports mainly America. Which in return introduced the Americanized way of life. This also means that most of Belize’s economy is controlled by foreign investors. Lundgren implies, “ They have learned about hierarchies of power and privilege. By a very early age, they have learned that to be poor, to be Belizean, and to be Black is to be situated in a disadvantaged position in this hierarchy. They know that they can control aspects of their immediate environment but that ultimate control is in the hands of forces far away.” According to the Racial Economic Inequality Organization, “the starkest divides are in measures of household wealth, reflecting centuries of white privilege that have made it particularly difficult for people of color to achieve economic security.” The statistics of the U.S. Median Wealth by race 1983 and 2016, shows the median White family has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family. It is sad but true. Colored people are at a disadvantage when it comes to economic stability.

The infectious disease known as racism puts colored people at a major disadvantage. It becomes difficult to fit into society without being judged or discriminated against. Prisons become home to mostly blacks and the Latino population. Kids in school are being bullied because of their skin color. Your intellectual capacity is in question because of your culture. Scenarios such as “If you are not “white” or “Asia” you are unintelligent. Your economic status is in jeopardy, Many “lower class” people idolize America because of their economic influences. Children become defined, and learn to define themselves, by these constructs and are put into categories called ‘poor,’ called ‘Black,’ in a world where poverty and Blackness often translate into limited access to jobs, housing, and appropriate education (Lundgren 1992) These are just some simple examples of how racism causes us to question our social, intellectual and economic worth. Lundgren argues, “to confront racism and the reproduction of inequality means to confront the exigencies of the material world. Flight into the realms of abstraction can only lead to intellectual impotence and practical retreat.” It is necessary to find ways to deteriorate racism once and for all. Gustavo Razzetti suggests, “Racism is about the color of your mind, not your skin.” Once the mentally changes toward different cultures and focuses more on the individual society will become more peaceful

Work Cited

  1. Lundgren, Nancy. “Children, Race, and Inequality: The Colonial Legacy in Belize.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 23, No. 1( Sept. 1992), pp. 86–106., https://www.jstor.org/stable/2784675 Smedley, Audrey. “Racism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 22 Mar. 2017, https://www.britannica.com/topic/racism.
  2. Joseph, Nicole M., et al. “Black Female Adolescents and Racism in Schools: Experiences in a Colorblind Society.” High School Journal, vol. 100, no. 1, Fall 2016, pp. 4–25. EBSCOhost, DOI:10.1353/hsj.2016.0018.
  3. Callahan, Yesha. “16-Year-Old Black Teen Tells Dr. Phil She’s White And Hates Black People.” Essence, Essence, 25 Oct. 2018, https://www.essence.com/news/16-year-old-black-teen-tells-dr-phil-shes-white-and-hates-black-people/.
  4. “The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race (English/Spanish).” Drug Policy Alliance, http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/drug-war-mass-incarceration-and-race-englishspanish.
  5. McWhorter, John. “Don’t Do Me Any Favors: A Black Case against Race Preferences.” American Enterprise, vol. 14, no. 3, Apr. 2003, pp. 22–27. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=507820161&site=ehost-live.
  6. “Racial Economic Inequality.” Inequality.org, https://inequality.org/facts/racial-inequality/.
  7. Nittle, Nadra Kareem. “Can Minorities Be Racist Against Themselves?” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 28 Sept. 2019, https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-internalized-racism-2834958.
  8. Razzetti, Gustavo, and Gustavo Razzetti. “Why Racism Is About the Color of the Mind, Not Your Skin – Gustavo Razzetti.” Liberationist, 29 Sept. 2019, https://liberationist.org/why-racism-is-about-the-color-of-the-mind-not-your-skin/.

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Racism: An Infectious Disease Of America. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/racism-an-infectious-disease-of-america/
“Racism: An Infectious Disease Of America.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/racism-an-infectious-disease-of-america/
Racism: An Infectious Disease Of America. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/racism-an-infectious-disease-of-america/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Racism: An Infectious Disease Of America [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/racism-an-infectious-disease-of-america/
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