Racism Essay, Research Paper
Racism Racism is the notion that some ethnic groups or races are naturally superior to others. One specific aspect of racism is segregation. The Latin word segregation grex means “flock.” From it comes the word segregation, which basically means, “to separate from the flock.” When applied to human beings it means the separation of some people within a society from others. This separation may be traditional: in some religion men and women occupy different parts of a temple or mosque during worship services. Segregation may also be voluntary: people of similar interests, values, or social status tend to associate often to the exclusion of others. Many of the immigrant groups who arrived in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries voluntarily settled in neighborhoods with people of similar backgrounds. Thus New York City and Chicago, for example, each had a Little Italy, while San Francisco developed a Chinatown. Conversely, wealthy members of society often have homes near each other in such exclusive places as Beverly Hills, Calif.; Kenilworth, Ill.; or Larchmont, N.Y. When the word segregation is used today, it usually refers to a system of forced separation. As such it can be either a legal or an illegal means of preserving the economic and social privileges of a majority over a minority. Most frequently such separation is based on ethnic or racial differences. The segregation may be geographic, or it may be in terms of social status.Examples of physical, or geographic, separation have occurred in Russia and South Africa. In Russia the Pale of Settlement came into existence as a result of the incorporation of large numbers of Jews into the country when Poland was partitioned in the late 18th century. Jews were required to live within the pale, which by the mid-19th century had come to include Russian Poland, Lithuania, Belorussia, the Crimea, Bessarabia, and most of the Ukraine. The Pale of Settlement ceased to exist during World War I, when Germany attacked Russia. It was officially abolished in April 1917. Areas of forced segregation in cities were called ghettos. The term was first used in Venice, Italy, in 1516, but the practice had started as early as 1280, when Jews of Morocco were put into city quarters called millahs. The gradual abolishment of ghettos in Western European cities began in the 19th century. In South Africa the system of apartheid, or “apartness,” entails social segregation as well as economic and political discrimination against nonwhites who, in this case, make up the vast majority of the population. Segregation had long been practiced in South Africa, but since 1948 when the term apartheid came into use it has given rise to a set of legal policies. The caste system of India is probably the world’s oldest segregation arrangement. It is certainly the most complex, since it takes into account race, religion, and occupation in dividing society into classes. Its emphasis is on separation by social status rather than geography. The castes ,jatis in Hindi, are hereditary, and individuals are expected to marry within their caste. In the United States racial segregation has affected several ethnic groups. Native American Indians have been confined in part to reservations. There was some segregation of Chinese and Japanese on the West Coast from the middle of the 19th century onward. An extreme case of segregation was imposed on Japanese immigrants and their American-born children during World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Japanese on the West Coast were evacuated from population centers and interned in what were basically concentration camps. Ten such camps were constructed to house more than 110,000 Japanese. Those who were put into the camps lost their homes, jobs, and property. For some reason, Japanese in Hawaii militarily a much more sensitive location were not confined in similar camps. Black Americans have long experienced a pervasive legalized segregation. Unlike the geographic segregation of the Indians, that of blacks has been mostly social, economic, and political. Physical separation has been confined mostly to residential areas.
After the end of Reconstruction, the Southern states passed laws restricting the use by blacks of public schools and public accommodations hotels, restaurants, and transportation facilities. The United States Supreme Court in the case Plessy vs. Ferguson declared these laws constitutional in 1896. Undoing this segregation was not achieved until after the landmark school desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education, in 1954.In spite of the gains made by blacks in jobs and education through the Civil Rights movement, patterns of housing segregation still persist in the cities of the United States. The Fair Housing Act passed by Congress in 1968 made residential segregation a federal offense. But this law applies only when local laws are used to create or maintain segregated neighborhoods. In most cities of the United States, segregation results from factors other than local laws, and, for this reason, clear patterns of segregated housing continue to exist. Black neighborhoods expanded dramatically in size in such cities as Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago. As this expansion took place, other residents moved out, often to the suburbs, and the cities continued to be racially divided by neighborhoods. This persistence of racially concentrated housing is called de facto segregation or simply segregation in fact. These housing patterns are not based on law and are, therefore, quite difficult to combat. Two of the tactics used to preserve residential segregation in the United States are redlining and steering. Redlining is a device used by banks. It means the withholding of home-loan funding and insurance from low-income neighborhoods. Steering is a tactic of real estate agencies. Blacks who want to buy homes are often steered away from white neighborhoods and directed instead to black or mixed neighborhoods to look at housing. Although illegal, steering is difficult to prove. Another specific aspect of racism is affirmative action. Affirmative actions the social policy adopted by various levels of government and by private employers in U.S. in response to the civil rights movement, Civil Rights Law of 1964, and other legislation. Affirmative action policies are intended to redress decades of racial discrimination in hiring. Affirmative action policies were often criticized as reverse discrimination by non blacks whom the policies affect; U.S. Supreme Court has generally supported affirmative action policies, though there have been a few reversals. In December 1996, A federal judge in California upheld a temporary ban on Proposition 209, a controversial voter initiative limiting affirmative action. Proposition 209 was approved by Californian voters in an Election Day referendum. Judge Thelton E. Henderson of the Federal District Court in San Francisco ruled that Proposition 209, which sought to eliminate race, sex, or ethnicity preferences in state hiring practices, would probably be found unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. He barred the proposal from taking effect. Henderson’s ruling began a renewed and protracted nationwide controversy over the issue of affirmative action. Fifty-five percent of California voters backed the proposal during November elections, and the supporters of the bill were critical of the judge’s decision to overturn the results of a popular referendum. Henderson, who was supported by United States President Bill Clinton and members of the Department of Justice, reasoned that the will of the people “does not reign absolute but must be kept in harmony with our Constitution.” In April 1997, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, Calif., upheld Proposition 209. In supporting the hiring-preference ban, Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannion, who wrote the position statement for the panel, concluded that “a system which permits one judge to block with the stroke of a pen what 4,736,180 state residents voted to enact as law tests the integrity of our constitutional democracy.”