The Roots of Racial Discrimination

Miguel is a scholar in the college of music in one of the more popular universities in the south. Born in the other side of the world of an Asian mother and an African-American father, it is his first time to set foot on the Land of the Free. Caught one time by a newfound friend looking at a group of white students who had been staring at him and following him around, he was cautioned not to stare back.

This is the reality in modern day America, after over a century after the abolition of Black slavery, discrimination is still alive in subtle forms. Many would argue that this is simply not the case, citing the many famous African-American personalities who have made it big in music, science, arts, politics, sports and entertainment. Indeed the proliferation of African-American artists and performers alone like Michael Jordan, Denzel Washington, Janet Jackson, Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson and Beyonce Knowles are living testaments to the talent, skill and persistence of the African-American race. They are not however, representative of the situation of the entire race in America.

Studies have shown that at least one third of the African-American population live below the poverty line and those who are not extremely rich or extremely poor do not have the same quality of life, jobs and education that whites have. There is some proof that African-Americans are simply not accorded the same opportunities.

The situation however, is far more difficult to analyze and simplify. Some may attribute the apparent social segregation of African-Americans to the existence of their own distinct culture. It is true that by preference, African-Americans have their own brand of

language, clothing, arts and music that not all white Americans can relate to. In the music scene for instance, it is a great rarity to find white Americans who can break into the African-American kind of rap and those who do, rise to the top not only through talent but through sheer determination too. Even the term African-American, which African-Americans themselves prefer over all other terms, is hyphenated, a clear sign of distinction.

Pointing out however, the difference in white and black cultures may be proof of discrimination in itself when it is used to justify racial discrimination. It is not the fault of a distinct culture that they are discriminated. It is the fault of those who have no respect for the difference.

In reality, discrimination geared against African-Americans is still surprisingly shallow. The issue of skin color and appearance still plays a major role. In studies on racial discrimination, those who are darker skinned are still significantly deemed less in intelligence and ability than those who are white. In some places African-Americans are stared at, stopped by authorities for no apparent reason and denied promotions on the basis of appearance or skin color.

Although it is admittedly true that the form of racial discrimination present today is not as brutal as what once was, it is still surprising that in a highly democratic society, it still exists. It becomes even more shocking to realize that we are supposed to be in the Land of the Free and yet in essence, discrimination curtails freedom.