Does Race Matter
Racism and racial discrimination
George Zimmerman and Travon Martin
Discipline in school
Race and college admissions
Fisher v. The University of Texas (U.T.) case
Completion of college
Perception of campus climate
Race and jobs
Access to jobs
Re-employment after losing a job
Does Race Matter
The idea that races are genetically distinct has been dismissed scientifically. Race matters because this categorization of people is used to propagate racism and racial discrimination. The scientific concept of race was a mere hypothesis that lacked a firm scientific basis. In fact, there are no pure, distinct races biologically. Race matters because it is a social construct. The cultural, ideological and political factors of a society shaped the idea of race and racial discrimination.
Race matters because it is used to discriminate in positive and negative ways. Scientific research has shown that there exists an area in the human brain (neural circuitry) that will distinguish and predispose to a response based on the racial features of a person. Research has further suggested that the acknowledgement of race occurs within the first milliseconds of meeting a person. This may explain George Zimmerman’s reaction to Travon Martin and the subsequent shooting. In schools, students of colour are more likely to receive more severe punishment than white students for the same offence. A report by the U.S. Department of Education indicated that students of colour are three times more likely to be expelled from public schools than their white counterparts. These racial disparities start as early as preschool – more than fifty percent of preschool children suspended more than once are of colour. Racial discrimination also exists in the search for housing. According to The Race Matters Institute, home buyers of colour were discriminated in seventeen percent of their efforts to buy a home while the rate of discrimination against Hispanics was twenty percent.
Race matters, even when it comes to college education. Take, for instance, the Fisher v. The University of Texas (U.T.) case, where Ms. Fisher accused the University of denying her admission because of her race. The Supreme Court agreed to look at the issue of race and admissions in the U.T (Liptak). If Ms. Fisher wins the case, the number of Black and Latino students admitted to selective colleges would drop. So, either way the case goes, race still matters. As much as the number of Blacks going to college is catching up with their white counterparts, the number graduating from college is still low. Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) indicates that in 2013, forty percent of whites aged between 25 and 29 years had a college degree compared to fifty-eight percent of Asians, twenty percent of blacks and fifteen percent of Hispanics. Critics argue that these disparities are brought about by socio-economic differences rather than racial diversity. These socio-economic differences scream racial disparities in our society. While institutions of higher learning enrol a diverse student body, research shows that the students experience different campus environment. Black students experience more racial conflict and separation compared to Whites and Asians. They also experience more interracial tension in the halls of residence than their counterparts. Furthermore, Blacks and Asian students feel more pressure to conform to the ethnic stereotypes concerning their academic performance than Whites and Hispanics.
Race matters in the job market because most of these job application forms even have a ‘race box’ to be checked. If a black applicant and a white applicant with similar skills and qualifications apply for the same job, the white applicant has a higher chance of being hired. Marianne Bertrand, a professor at the University of Chicago, and Sendhil Mullainathan of MIT conducted a study to evaluate the extent of racial discrimination in the job market. They sent about 5000 resumes to job advertisements listed in the Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe. The trick was to use white-associated names and black-associated names in the resumes and wait for call-backs for interviews. Their results showed that the white-associated names were fifty percent more likely to receive a call for a job interview than the resume with a black-associated name. Young African-Americans who fail job interviews blame race for their misfortunes. One youth said he failed to secure a job because he did not get good vibes with the employer and because he is black. They add that the employers do not discriminate directly; rather, they use excuses such as the job has been taken. The proportion of Blacks and Hispanics qualified for jobs that require a college degree is lower than for Whites. This is because of the high disparity in the proportion of college degrees among these groups. It is also much harder for a person of colour to be re-employed after losing a job. Under such circumstance, employers are always concerned about the reason for losing the previous job.
Individuals may use race to explain their actions or inactions. One might blame their race for their inability to achieve or get a job while another might use it to get preferential treatment. Others see race as a way to battle injustice while others use it to access their rights and privileges. Race matters in many aspects of our lives.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Liptak, Adam. Supreme Court to Weigh Race in College Admissions. 29 June 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/us/supreme-court-will-reconsider-affirmative-action-case.html. 5 December 2015.
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