The basic assumption of the current research investigation is that the American socio-economic system is set up to be oppressive to minorities, particularly African-Americans. The basic premise and tone of the report gives a qualitative interpretation of the data presented the most viability. When populations are compromised by a lack of equal access to education and economic success, the community level is adversely affected by an anti-essentialist tendency.
The minority in this society is then not recognized as going deeper than sensory perception allows, and often this perception is controlled in terms of stereotypes that are handed down through mass-media outlets. The current investigation also addresses urbanization trends: “The twentieth century has been a period of dramatic urbanization and industrialization in the United States. This process was already under way at the turn of the century, but at that time the United States was still predominantly a rural society” (Farley, 2000).
Certain socio-economic areas, however, often face drawbacks in terms of education, equalization of opportunity and basic care and services, and this is a serious problem that also affects African-Americans as a larger issue. To begin, the problem of socio-economic stratification of minorities often begins at school. It is important to address the basic research problem of individuals from lower socio-economic areas doing worse in school and in their overall performance than students from areas that are better off economically.
This is also related in Singham’s study to ethnicity, as it was found that white and Asian students tend to do better than African-American or Latino students or students in low socio economic areas. This is perhaps a reflection of a larger problem of opportunity, access, and structural inequality. Singham’s article also addresses the problem of poor teaching methods being the status quo in these low socio-economic areas, which formulates the essential question of how one can improve quality in these areas.
Lower-SES children enter kindergarten classes that are larger than those attended by middle- and upper-class children, and those classes are presided over by less well-trained, less experienced teachers who feel less… that they are part of a professional community” (Singham, 2003). This would help youths to reach and exceed their potential as positive, contributory members of their community before they get caught up in the vicious cycle. This would serve to reduce patterns of poverty that affect many families in a cycle of negativity by providing positive working solutions in a real-world context.
The population in oppressed areas is often compromised by poverty, poor wages, and poor living conditions, and youth, educational, and economic programs can often find ways in which to improve the socio-economic status of the general population and improve their environment holistically by acting together in terms of community advocacy. In America, even today under the tenure of an African-American president, there is a legacy of oppression, and defining people by race and economic status is still a big part of society.
Many see a lot of progress in terms of the new African-American and inority middle class, but still more still see a history of repression that is keeping many minorities from being able to afford the standards of middle class or working class living in America, such as the ability to stay home from work and take care of children for women. This may not be very progressive in terms of gender roles. In any case, one answer to this question comes from structural inequality theory and the concept of redlining. This is also informed by the institution of discriminatory policy through structural inequality theory.
From this theory’s perspective, structural inequality theories view inequality as being passed on from one generation to another in terms of wealth and privilege within a family structure that is seen as a space of economic restriction that also works to keep disadvantaged families in the same place from generation to generation. The social class of the parents, from this perspective, will play a large role in the socialization of their children in terms of advantages or disadvantages that are inherited in the family structure.
From the interactionist view, society is not seen as the large organism or field of struggle that functionalists and conflict theorists see it as, but rather is seen more microcosmically in terms of individual and quotidian relations. “Conflict theorists are much less supportive than order theorists of the idea that ethnic stratification and ethnocentrism are functional and necessary in any society. Ethnic stratification is seen not as an unfortunate byproduct of social diversity but rather as a pattern that serves the interests of some dominant elite” (Farley, 2000).
Conflict theory is often associated with social stratification. Therefore, the main problems raised by the idea of oppression in America all seem to be centered around over- or under-representation along certain lines and over- or under-identification of behavioral problems among minority populations, particularly African-Americans. The functions and dysfunctions of having a poverty class primarily focus on the dysfunctions because poverty is seen to be a cyclical phenomenon that is also connected to how much schooling a person is getting.
Poverty is seen as a social problem which has functions, but mainly acts in a dysfunctional relationship with society in which white suburbanization (white flight) acts as a counter to racial backlash. The term “white flight” refers to a more specific phenomenon than white suburbanization, exurbanization or migration, “and it was never intended to subsume these much broader movements of the white population. White flight might provide a more eye-catching phrase than “white migration to lower density communities,” but the behaviors that the xpression was meant to describe can be lost and forgotten in the process” (Harrison, 2002).
It is important to focus on issues of oppression and how this dictates the interrelationship mentioned above. Oppression has been a part of the patchwork of American history since the nation’s inception, leading to a fairly paradoxical culture in which socio-economic equality and justice are theoretically cherished at the same time they are questionably practiced, as shown in the struggle of many minorities to reach the middle class.
As the result of this historical legacy of oppression, members of a minority group may, over the course of time, internalize the low self-image of themselves that has been traditionally projected by the dominant group as a justification for its oppressive policies. This has, to a large extent, been the case with African-Americans, as a consequence of the historical legacy of oppression and inequality stemming from slavery, which led eventually to the process of white suburbanization as a sort of neo-segregation in post World War II America, in turn leading to racial backlash on both sides.
Massey et. al’s article, “Migration, Segregation, and the Geographic Concentration of Poverty,” provides a slightly more intimate picture of the actual areas in which poverty is concentrated along demographic lines. “A third hypothesis, advanced by Massey and colleagues… is that concentrated poverty among African-Americans follows ultimately from the racial segmentation of urban housing markets, which interacts with high and rising rates of black poverty” (Massey, et. al, 1994). This is a ore direct address of the aforementioned issues of poverty’s continuance in not just a cultural sense, but in an environmental one. In the scientific article, Massey et. all also propose that poverty can be divided both geographically and along lines of ethnicity. “This growth in concentrated urban poverty has been more pronounced for certain groups and regions than others… urban poverty was most concentrated among African- Americans and Puerto Ricans, and the sharpest increase were observed in the Northeast and Midwest” (Massey, et. al, 1994).
Although they address the problem of socio-economic oppression along minority lines more directly and in considerably greater detail than some other articles, they are also reticent when it comes to providing solutions to these problems in the present day, preferring to stick to the subject of racial neighborhood displacement. Obviously, historical efforts at socio-economic equality for minorities have been inadequate to say the least, as ghettoes and inner cities still create areas of extreme tension in American society, areas in which the boundaries of state power are clearly drawn by those citizens who may use force as a tool of the state.
This threatens the peaceful and productive lifestyle to which all people should be entitled. Historically, many people have felt that the Constitution was made to include all men, meaning all of humanity, and the wording certainly supports them, if, almost inexplicably (or at the very least having the explanation open to an infinite number of explanations), the status quo has not always done so. In ghettoized America, intrinsic and set boundaries of power that keep two societies separate and unequal are evident.
Instead of openly attacking the oppressor, who is on one side of a boundary that is patrolled by the armed guards of police presence, it is easier for people in the ghetto to display feelings of power and frustrated inadequacy by acting out violent fantasies against the oppressor on each other. This is something that continues to the present. Other sources such as Harrison question whether one can really color-coat socio-economic factors at all, in terms of talking about issues of dividing lines and oppression of minorities.
This is a different perspective than some other authors have. From this alternative perspective, it seems likely that many, and perhaps even most, of the whites who moved to the suburbs in the decades following World War II, “were moving from neighborhoods that were experiencing no influx of blacks or other minorities. In the segregated metropolitan areas of the 1950s and 1960s, it is highly unlikely that blacks were moving into enough new neighborhoods to account for most of the whites moving to the suburbs” (Harrison, 2002). This provides a counter-argument to the traditional ssumption that the creation of socio-econoimc racial division, rather than being related to strictly economic factors.
However, one could also argue that these economic factors are also racially motivated. Upon arriving in the big cities of the North, many African Americans found that their dreams of equality and prosperity would be hard to realize; their economic security was hard to attain. It was evident to migrating blacks that there was a system of segregation already in place in the North as well as a biased attitude toward blacks that as deeply entrenched. Even after slavery was abolished in the northern cities in nineteenth century, the remnants of its structure stuck in the forms of segregationist laws, the sporadic continuation of indentured servitude, and the spiral of poverty and ghettoized community which caught many blacks, Southern migrants and Northern inhabitants, in a system that was similar to slavery.
Blacks faced basically the same discrimination in the North that they had in the South, and this negatively affected their triving toward a life which was reflective of the ideal American dream from a socio-economic perspective. Driven to the north by economic, social, and political causes, these African-American migrants were countered by effects of widespread American discrimination that was counter to the country’s vaunted ideals. Migrant blacks found themselves in a vicious circle of discrimination and limited opportunity, which forced them once again into a lifestyle that was substandard and oppressive- they survived in city slums and ghettoes where hope and chance for betterment were few or almost non-existent.
Evidence of how the racial composition is changing in some neighborhoods that African Americans and other minorities have moved into, “would be needed to understand how and where white flight, as well as less racially motivated processes of residential transition and succession, might still be retarding the progress toward a nation whose increasingly diverse populations actually become each other’s neighbors” (Harrison, 2002). Overall, racist behavior is often seen to stem from the practice of out-group tereotyping, which is often all too common in an American society that views minorities as simultaneously being the supply-source for nationalist values and the scapegoat for societal problems. Racism also has deeper roots within the general culture in terms of stereotyping African-American individuals. Race and ethnicity are considered by various sources in many ways, but perhaps the most prevalent field of research on race and ethnicity involves the examination of in-group and out-group mentality, prejudice, and discrimination.
Prejudice is a negatively attributed cultural manifestation that associates in-group characteristics with positive attributions and out-group characteristics with their converse. Discrimination is the application of prejudice in individual, societal, or institutional actions that seek to homogenize and disparage the out-group while leaving the in-group free of similar scrutiny or action.
Despite the current status of law as being relevant and widely applied, there are still controversies and issues surrounding civil rights today, since it is associated with the widely controversial issues of discrimination, reverse discrimination, stereotyping, prejudice, and other issues, as well as a perceived break of theory and reality in some cases. In other words, in some cases, the letter of the law does not match its application. The general issue of socio-economic inequality is still controversial today because discrimination and stereotyping have a dependent relationship; that discrimination cannot exist without stereotyping.
Basically, discrimination is a way of thinking that your culture and race or whatever group is superior to other cultures that you encounter, and then classifying these other cultures negatively as a result of stereotyping them. It seems to be common among exclusive people who don’t want to let people in and groups who are unable to accept more than one version of the truth. Stereotyping is a common strategy people use to generalize a group of people when they do not have communication with or accurate information about the stereotyped group, for whatever reason.
Discrimination in the public sector today would not exist without stereotyping, so by combating stereotyping as a sort of least common denominator for which more effective means of communication can be established, people will also be engaged in combating ethnocentrism and prejudice and working for justice and truth. But unfortunately, this is still a struggle in the present, which creates a lot of controversy. “Common to African-Americans and many immigrant populations in the United States has been the monitoring, surveillance and restriction of movement by the state.
Restrictions and discriminations of both subject populations are part of a more general process of actively structuring and policing the body politic, or political community” (Hanchard, 1999). Often this process takes place in the private sector, but the public sector is not immune from discriminatory conduct. If people today were more educated about people in what they consider to be out-groups, they would be less likely to stereotype the people who make up these groups.
Racial and ethnic discrimination is a serious problem in American society and in the socio-economic sense today, as seen in examples of racial profiling among police officers and discrimination on college and university campuses, as well as in the context of the cases many experience every day. Prejudice is the negatively attributed cause of such discriminatory action, and it frequently involves perceiving negative out-group populations as being “all the same” and seeing one’s own in-group as being somehow innately superior and less “the same” than the others.
Some would say that socio-economic equality has made strides and that racism and discrimination is a thing of the past. But although significant progress has been made in the assimilation of African-American and other minority groups into management levels of organizational professions, there are still many doors that remain closed for these population groups, as discrimination stemming from racist stereotyping continues.