Racism, the Challenge to Color Blindness
Wed, April 21, 2021

Racism, the Challenge to Color Blindness

Race is not rooted in biology but is instead a social construct tangibly affecting people of color in terms of education, economic resources, and opportunities / Photo by: Lijphoto via Shutterstock

 

Race is not rooted in biology but is instead a social construct tangibly affecting people of color in terms of education, economic resources, and opportunities. Race surfaced as a social classification used to assign dominance of some social classes over others. The phenotypic differences observed in humans are insufficient to establish different races among men. Basically, no personality or behavior is inherent in white, black, brown, or other people of color. Only one race exists, but society chooses to ignore this truth.

Racism Then and Now

Racism was at the core of the subjugation and exploitation of Western Europe in the 18th century over people and nations. The idea of race was made up to enlarge the differences between white and black people and to justify slavery. Black people were involuntarily enslaved and transported to the Americas, typifying them as lesser human beings. Meanwhile, the United States continues to be portrayed as a champion of human rights, freedom, and equality, amplifying the paradox between human equality and slavery.

By the 19th century, the full-grown racism stretched throughout the world. Country leaders started thinking in racial terms, designating people of color as low-status races. Exploitation and discrimination against them became a widespread practice. Feelings of superiority coupled with colonialism spawned enmity and resentment that persisted even after independence.

In the 20th century, a lot of differences and disputes around the world were construed in racial terms even if not true. Racism became a divisive thorn between groups of people that is so hard to surpass.

Today, human societies, in principle, have diverged from racism. Many have denounced racist beliefs and practices and promoted public policies on human rights. However, despite measures to protect the rights of racial minorities, many people remain racist. The penchant for racism still persists in the 21st century.

Today, human societies, in principle, have diverged from racism. Many have denounced racist beliefs and practices and promoted public policies on human rights / Photo by: NSingh Photography via Shutterstock

 

Implications and Impact of Racism

Racism has a deeply damaging and divisive effect on everyone. It creates and maintains the inequities in society. It is rooted in social institutions, inflicting oppression and hurt both mentally and emotionally, impeding thoughts and actions and establishing conflicts against one another among groups of people.

From past to present day, several countries have segregated people by color, resulting in striking and relentless social and economic inequalities. People of color receive lower-quality health care and education, live in a poorer neighborhood, and lack better economic prospects. Racism contributes to significant social gaps across the life course.

Three of the most blatant effects of racism, particularly in the United States, are the following:

1. Housing Discrimination and Systematic Removal of People of Color From Their Homes.

For decades, governments and private citizens have used exclusionary strategies to prevent people of color from developing wealth through homeownership and affordable housing. Policies and laws continue to undercut prosperity in communities of color. For centuries, American policies have intentionally displaced people of color. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forcibly relocated Native Americans to make room for white settlement resulting in thousands of deaths, hunger, and disease. Between 1945 and 1968, more than 100 tribal nations were placed under state jurisdiction contributing to hardships, housing instability, and loss of millions of acres of tribal lands. A 2017 survey shows more than 1 in 5 American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) people were impoverished compared to only 8 percent of white Americans. AI/AN are less likely to own their homes than their white counterparts. At present, people of color still bear extensive discrimination in the housing market. Statistics show that 45% of African Americans, 31% Latino, 25% Asian Americans, and 17% of Native Americans experience discrimination when buying or renting housing.

2. Toxicity to the Health of Humans

USC and UCLA scientists found that racial discrimination appears to trigger inflammatory responses among African Americans at the cellular level, raising the danger for chronic illness. Inflammation is a sign that the genes are working to fight the threat and to protect the organism from health risks. However, under constant threat, one could suffer from chronic inflammation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that racism is a significant social determinant of health. It was reported that high rates of hypertension and heart disease persist among African-Americans. Studies also reveal that mothers experiencing discrimination are more likely to have low birth weight infants. AAP further reveals that parents who were treated unjustly will more likely have children with behavioral issues like attention deficit disorder and aggression as exhibited by adolescent African-American boys in one study. Living in a stressful environment may cause children to be hyper-vigilant.

USC and UCLA scientists found that racial discrimination appears to trigger inflammatory responses among African Americans at the cellular level, raising the danger for chronic illness / Photo by: 9nong via Shutterstock

 

3. Poor Academic Achievement

Educational disparities are usual occurrences among children of color. They are unduly affected by chronic absenteeism (equal to or more than 10% of school day absences), a strong predictor of academic standing. Results of a study among high school students show children of color exhibiting a higher proportion of absences (27.5% of American-Indian, 23.4% of African-Americans, 21.2% of Hispanic) as compared to white children (17.3%).

In another study, fear of arrest from immigration authorities negatively affected school attendance of black and Hispanic immigrants. The differences in chronic absenteeism prevent children from attaining full rewards of educational achievement.

Additionally, student-teacher racial mismatch also impacts academic performance. Studies show that African-American children receive worse behavior assessments from white teachers, possibly a racial bias. White teachers also underestimate the ability of Latino and blacks resulting in lower grade point averages.

All humans have 99.9% the same level of the genome. So let us not pass down the socially transmitted disease that is racism. Let it stop now.