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The Struggle of Equality for Blacks in the 21st Century

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The Struggle of Equality for Blacks in the 21st Century

On December 29, 2004, Richard Blakey was applying for a job interview at the very prestigious Public Relations firm, Ketchum, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He was the only black man applying for the job. Little did he know that he had no chance of getting the job no matter how qualified he was for the position because he was a black man and his counterparts were white. He went into the interview and gave it everything that he had. The executive director told him that his skills were extraordinary and he was very impressed. Richard left Ketchum with a smile on his face knowing that he made an impression and will be getting a call in about a week. Three weeks passed and Richard finally received a phone call from the Ketchum organization, and the same executive director that gave him the interview told him that he had not received the job. When Richard asked him why, the executive director stated that he was too dark for the public relations firm, and that the job was given to a white man. Richard hung up the phone and began to cry.

Have you ever encountered racism? If your answer is no, you're either very lucky or very naive. Chances are, you have. Perhaps you've never seen someone being denied a job because of the color of their skin, but chances are, you remember the Rodney King beating and the O.J. Simpson trial, or you've heard someone comment that black men are better basketball players than their white teammates or that they are more likely to be on welfare than white people are. If so, then you've encountered racism. According to The Random House College Dictionary, Racism, or Racialism, is defined as "the theory or idea that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and certain traits of personality, intellect, or culture and, combined with it, the notion that some races are inherently superior to others." It is found in many forms, and it has profoundly shaped our history as Americans. Most often in our culture, when racism is mentioned, it refers to the relationship between white people, which make up the majority, and black people, which compose a sizable minority

It seems to me, that after all the years of struggling for equality blacks should no longer have to fight for what they want in America, but that is not true. Blacks are still fighting for things that are given to white people, Why? Because we are living in White America and nothing comes easy for blacks they have to work for everything they get.

Black people had to "fight" for their right to equality. The struggle started back in the 1950's when a baptist preacher, by the name of, Dr. Martin Luther King became the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He believed that peaceful protest was the way forward and he was absolutely right. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensured black people the right to vote, equal protection under the law, desegregation without regard to race, and the right not to be discriminated against in public places or jobs. Affirmative Action laws were passed to make up for past inequalities and to ensure that African Americans would be included in appropriate proportions to many businesses and schools. Soon white opposition gave way to a new, more tolerant attitude, one in which racism and prejudice were disdained by society. It's 2005. As a nation, we've witnessed countless racist atrocities over the years. Slaves were separated from their families and beaten for resisting their masters. Mobs of rioting white people ran through black neighborhoods and indiscriminately killed innocent people. Men in white hooded robes strung up and gutted other men for nothing more than having black skin. But then in the 1960's, the Civil Rights movement gave black people the same rights as white people had. Now it's a new millennium, and racism is a thing of the past. Now, we're all one big happy family in this melting pot called America. Right?

Do you think racism is gone? Granted, it is not as obvious as it once was. Now, racism shows up much more differently. People don't openly admit to being racist or having racist attitudes, mostly because it is no longer socially acceptable to be racist. However, racism still rears its ugly head, mostly in the inequalities that still exist between blacks and whites. Although blacks are no longer regularly enslaved, lynched, or segregated from whites, inequalities in employment, economic status, and education still exist between blacks and whites Ð'- always favoring whites. "For example, ever since the Civil Rights Movement began, the unemployment rate for blacks has been more than twice what it has been for whites. Much fewer blacks than whites finish high school (56% vs. 75%). Homicide has become the #1 cause of death in 15 to 44-year-old black men, and 75% of all blacks live in cities Ð'- 56% of them in inner city areas. And, not surprisingly, whites make up 90-98% of all physicians, lawyers, managers, engineers, accountants, stock brokers, sales managers, bank officials, dentists, judges, college professors, and social scientists, while blacks and other minorities account for 25-55% of all servants, laundry and garment workers, and cleaners. If racism is truly gone, and we were one big happy family, these trends would not be happening. Yet inequities such as these happen every day."(Figures Taken From Journal of Health and the African American Family)

We have made progress over the years. The injustices that come from racism are much less now than a century ago, or even a few decades ago. Where does racism come from? Racism comes from many different places. It is learned through socialization Ð'- that is, through the actions and feedback we get from our parents, our peers, and the media. If someone we trust or respect acts in a negative way towards a black person, we are likely to pick up on that sentiment Ð'- particularly when we are very young. It is also learned through personal experience. If a white person is offended in some way by a black person, the white person might come to associate that negative behavior with the most obvious difference between the two people Ð'- the color of their skin.

Stereotypes, too, play a significant role in racism. Everyone is aware of stereotypes, through the influence of the media and many other things. If someone tells a "blonde" joke, you immediately know that the blonde in the joke is not going to be very intelligent regardless of how intelligent you think blonde's are in real life. If a comedic movie portrays a black man, often he is in his late teens or early twenties, poor, brash and disrespectful, and into drugs. Though many blondes are not dumb and few blacks are young, poor drug dealers, they have been stigmatized



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