Economic and Racial Conditions of Contemporary U.S.A
The United States of America is considered the land of opportunity and hope. For many external observers, The US is a model of democracy, where equality along racial, ethnic, and cultural lines is promoted. This equality, if practiced to the maximum, replicates into all spheres of life, including economic well-being of all races in the U.S. In order to establish the veracity of the notion of economic equality, this analysis seeks to investigate economic and racial conditions of contemporary U.S.A. In doing so, the relationship between race and economic conditions is analyzed, pointing out to discrepancy in economic status of different races, if any. Importantly, the contributory factors to identified economic differences, such as history of slavery, are identified (Cone 2).
The U.S.A, as a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-racial society, is an embodiments of a mix of peoples whose identify is defined by distinct factors. Whereas these cultural variations are said to contribute to the true value of a cosmopolitan society, the variations continue to define determinant factors with regard to household income. Essentially, a certain group of people would be perceived as rich or wealthy, just by their identity and belonging to a particular race and class. Alternatively, the mention of a particular race, say Blacks, brings connotations of poverty, criminality, and a series of negative attributes that hinder economic prospects of the subjects – such as illiteracy. These perceptions and first impressions upon seeing a person on the streets reflects the reality of contemporary America, a society stratified by class, race, and the attendant economic status. So immense are these divisions such that in the social space – where material and cultural capital is differently distributed – neighbors may become remote than strangers (Hubbs 55).
Much of the perceptions on contemporary America are a consequence of its history. The Slavery period, for instance, provides origins of the inferiorities placed on the Black people. Black people suffered immensely in the hands of their masters. As subjects, they were servants of their masters, mostly Whites. This suffering of the Black man did not end with emancipation (Cone 2). Centuries later, even in the absence of slavery, the ingredients of the slavery era are witnessed in the contemporary American workplace, with the Black man mostly a servant, and the White man remains the master.
The terms ‘slave’ and ‘master’ have evolved over time, and the servant is tagged as a worker, employee, or any specific tag that identifies their role at the workplace, such as waiter. On the other side of the race, the master is now referred as Founder, CEO, President, or Chairman. Like the slavery period, contemporary America is characterized by a predominance of the White man as the owner of capital, and the Black man is the modern-day ‘slave’. The economic status of the two races cannot be compared. Indeed, a small percentage of Americans hold the vast proportion of the nation’s wealth. Despite these elaborations, there are stories defying these set narratives. As such, there are wealthy Blacks and minority races, as well as Whites who are homeless. These cases of minority groups, however, are traces of few success stories that do not have the force to change the whole narrative (Cone 3).
Historical injustices, and the narratives of White superiority over Black created during the slavery era, continues to define and determine the fate of modern-day Americans in contemporary U.S.A. Blacks and minorities continue to face obstacles in their pursuit of economic goals. The White man’s path, however, seems to be clear, protected by the false narrative of their entitlement to these economic gains. In addition, The White man is seen as having the ‘the right attributes,’ giving them a competitive edge in situations where the scramble for economic gains involves competition from other races. The less entitled subjects — minority ethnic and racial groups – are limited in their capacity to convert their classifications and attributes into meaningful gains. Their attributes — of the minority groups — are positioned as those classifications and are fixed by them (Hubbs 46).
Racial prejudices are further stratified on various factors, including gender. Black women endure negative stereotypical attitudes from authorities, including the police. These attitudes limit the prospects of Black women accessing justice, even when genuinely sought. For instance, Black women are generally displaced as rape victims. There is a major difference in the way police respond to sexual assault of Black women, compared to reported sexual assault cases of White women. The situation is worsened when the Black woman belongs to the lowest cadre in the social class. These rape cases of Black women, and the apathetic reactions by the police, continue to obscure the Black woman’s economic, political, and social concerns (Irving 100).
The manifestations of such attitudes and their consequences are observed in various settings, including at the workplace. For instance, straight male managers who exhibit feminine care are perceived as caring, enhancing their power and symbolic value at the workplace. On the contrary, women who exhibit similar traits, naturally expected from them, are simply perceived as ‘being themselves’ and derive no rewards (Hubbs 46).
Contemporary U.S.A continues to be defined by economic discrepancies along various racial groups. Although these outcomes are not a result of express design, the power of set perceptions on White superiority is greater than any other structures designed to prevent the outcomes, such as laws on equality. This explains why a few Americans hold the greatest proportion of the country’s wealth. These few Americans belong to a specific race. Equality in accessing economic opportunity seems to be an illusion among Blacks and minority races, and the stark economic differences along racial lines continue to dominate and define social relations.
Cone, H.James.The Cross and the Lynching Tree. New York: Orbis Books, 2011.Print.
Hubbs, Nadine. “‘Redneck Woman’ and the Gendered Poetics of Class Rebellion.” Southern Culture, 17.4 (2011): 44-70.
Irving, Tony.”Decoding Black Women: Policing Practices and Rape Prosecution on Streets of Philadelphia.” NWSA Journal, 20.2 (2008):100-120.