According to Bonilla-Silva (2003) racial discrimination refers to the unfavorable treatment of an applicant or employee on racial basis. It is any action, deliberate or otherwise that subordinates a group or an individual based on race or skin color. Racism in the country has been enacted individually or institutionally. Institutional racism refers to a system of procedures in all areas of life such as employment, education, religion, media, and professional associations among other areas. The effect of these actions is to perpetrate and uphold power, well-being and influence over a particular group over another. Because of the fact that institutional discrimination emanates from the operations of esteemed forces in the society, it tends to receive less public disapproval compared to racism perpetrated by individuals. Wright (1998) argues that power is an important pre-condition for racial discrimination. This is because racial discrimination depends on the capacity to offer or deny social facilities, benefits, opportunities or services from a person whom they should be given to. Racial discrimination or racism has for a very long time been a controversial topic in the United States (Guerin, 2005). This paper follows the debate on the efforts to end racial discrimination in employment in the efforts to establish whether or not racial discrimination will ever end.
It is argued that all human beings belong to a common species and also have a common origin. Trepagnier (2006) suggests that all people are born equal, having equal rights and dignity. All people form and vital part of humanity. This means that all people all over the world have equal faculties and possess equal abilities to attain the highest level of technical, intellectual, economic, political and cultural development. It is on the basis of this argument that laws have been developed in the country to address the issue of racial discrimination. Laws and legislations have been developed at the federal and state levels that are against any form of discrimination. In employment as Guerin (2005) asserts the laws and legislations make it illegal for any employer to discriminate against any person on racial grounds. Race from the legal perspective include color, nationality, national or ethnic origins.
The laws against racial discrimination in employment cover all aspects of employment. These aspects include recruitment and hiring, terms and conditions of employment, status, pay and benefits, transfer opportunities, promotion, training and development, and dismissal (Feagin, 2000). There are four main types of discrimination that exist in employment:
Direct discrimination: Trepagnier (2006) defines this form of discrimination as deliberate discrimination. This is for example where a certain job is only given to people of a specific racial group.
Indirect discrimination: this defined by Fugazza (2003) as where the working conditions, practices, criteria or provisions disadvantages members of a particular racial group. For example introduction of a dress code without any regards the effect has on a particular racial group.
Racial harassment: Fugazza (2003) defines harassment in employment as participating in, encouraging or allowing behavior that is offensive to a person of a particular racial group or creating a hostile environment for such people. An example is making racist comments at work.
Victimization: according to Bonilla-Silva (2003) victimization is treating a person unfavorably because of a complaint or supporting a complaint against racial discrimination. An example is taking a disciplinary action against an employee for filing a complaint against racial discrimination.
Regardless of the argument that people all over the world are born equal and with equal abilities, there are differences in the way they achieve development because of historical, geographical, political, cultural and social factors. These factors represent the differences that have historically served as excuses for rank ordered classifications of human beings. While the law seeks to fight discrimination, there are forms of discrimination that have persisted in the United States regardless of the development towards ending discrimination. Wellman (1993) asserts that while some forms of discrimination are obvious, there are others that are bustle and as a result very hard to detect. An example is where an employer refuses to promote an employee based on his or her race and in such a way that he can give convincing reason which is far from racism or stereotyping.
Dain (2002) gives one of the very difficult aspects of racial discrimination at the workplace to be the fact that it can happen without being detected. For instance, unless an employer accepts that he gave a promotion on the basis of racism, there might be no way of proving otherwise. Additionally, it is hard for a potential employee to know the reasons why they were not given a position. Albert (2000) asserts that in such a case, the employer can get away with discriminatory intent. Even the law itself, no matter how effective, might not be able to hold the employer liable. In such a case, asking the employer the reason why a particular person was not hired, he or she can give many other reasons that are not racist.
Another argument that emerges in the discussion of racial discrimination at the workplace is that some forms are unintentional. There are various cases where the employer acts in a racist manner without intending or being aware that he or she is being racist. For instance, a case can happen where an employer asks an employee to recommend another person who he or she is sure will be suitable for an opening. The employee without intending will pick names of the friends who happen to belong to his or her own race (Rocchio, 2000). Though this is a form of discrimination for failing to provide level ground to qualified candidates to compete for the position it is not the intention of the employer or the employee to be discriminatory. Another form of discrimination that may be hard to discern is where a particular role is suitable for a person of a specific race. For instance, in acting, where a role is meant for a black male, there is no way a white male can fill it. These are some forms of racism that persist in employment (Dain, 2002).
When discrimination is institutionalized it is hard for the employers to realize that they are discriminating. Even where they are aware, they might pretend not to be and go ahead to discriminate. A lot of discrimination in the current society is institutionalized and not intentional. The laws against discrimination are more effective in cases of institutionalized international discrimination especially in public institutions like government organizations or quasipublic organizations such as corporations. Such institutions have a clear policy and culture that is clear to the public. Dain (2002) argues that discriminatory policies of this kind can be very clear and companies can be held liable for perpetrating discrimination. Isolated discrimination is very hard to prove. Another challenge is that institutionalized discrimination tends to remain long even after deliberate intentions of discrimination have ended. Some policy makers have argued that institutionalized discrimination is a past problem in the country. However, Albert (2000) argues that statistical evidence still show that it is very much alive. Institutionalized discrimination has been explained in that the members of some communities are inherently incapable of taking some important positions. This is the reason why there are fewer individuals from certain communities in the country in higher positions in various organizations.
The social, economic, political, and cultural disadvantages that have been experienced by some racial groups in the country still persist. This is an explanation of the kind of racial discrimination that is being perpetrated in the country today. There are also policies and procedures in the country that appear neutral but are still skewed against these disadvantaged groups. Changing such factors is a major challenge especially coupled with the fact that the people are historically prejudiced. Some groups in the country are inherently prejudiced against others. This means that there is existence of negative attitudes towards the minorities, attitudes that have persisted for generations, and cannot be wished away in a short time. Such are the attitudes that are imposed in justifying racial discrimination. It is believed that education as well as familiarization can change the attitudes. However, there are other negative effect including justification of discriminatory behaviors, unwillingness to change the attitudes, and self-fulfilling prophesy for the discriminating and the discriminated upon groups.
It is evidence that the United States has a long history of racial discrimination. Cases of social injustice in the country are evident. Evidence from statistics is the fact that there are more people from some racial groups than others, especially in higher paying jobs in the country. This proves that regardless of the argument that the law in the country is fighting racial discrimination; the problem is still very much alive. There are various factors that have been explained in the paper to explain the continued persistent of racial discrimination in the country. While some policy makers argue that the problem, especially of institutionalized discrimination has been eliminated, evidence everywhere reveals otherwise. The problem of racial discrimination in the united states has been ongoing for generations and regardless of the efforts to end, there is evidence to suggest that the war is far from over. Residual discrimination against minorities is still being experienced and because of the various forms of discrimination that exist, the problem is far from over. The debate is ended toward the development of policies and affirmative action to address the issue. However, regardless of the efforts, the problem of racial discrimination will take a long time before it is completely eradicated in the country.
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