Social Movement and Political Change
A current issue that is facing American society is the topic of racial inequality. The study will focus on the immigration issues facing present-day America and the ever-growing number of immigrants stampeding through the gates, so to speak. The main concern of this paper is to provide actions towards developing the consciousness of the youth regarding the current racial inequality and the issues relating to it. I had been primarily concerned with this topic due to the continuous issue of migration in the United States.
Most of these immigrants experience inequality due to diverse reasons, most of which stem from their color or differences in cultural background. Others experience unequal treatment in the work place or are not given the jobs and salaries that they truly deserve due to their race. Some statistics show that other races such as Hispanics, Asians and blacks are experiencing racial inequality. Many internet sites and journals present such information which made me realize that migration is truly an issue within the American society.
In the media, racial inequality is also evident in films, daily talk shows, TV commercials, current affairs programs, magazines and other forms of media that focus on the topic of racial inequality. Through these, a growing awareness for a new type of racial inequality has arisen, a stereotypes of sorts, which is the discrimination of the Hispanics and Asian immigrants. Organizations work with popular media personalities which could represent and fight for the advocacies in which promotes racial equity. Among these advocates is popular and influential TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey utilizes her popularity to reach out and open the minds of her viewers, making them aware of the current issues of the American society. One of her ardent advocacies is raising the need to find equality for the African-American community, as well as for the other foreigners living in the United States. I find this issue very relevant due to the changes that the American society is going through. The arrival of different race and nationalities, as I see it, creates a different environment for the current society that generates conflict and competition amongst the people.
Some areas where this competition could be seen is in education, social status and in the job market. My course of action is intended for the youth, whom I view as the priority individuals needed to be educated about the issue. I see the youth as the future of our society and the future leaders who will one day play a big role in honing the next generation after them. In educating the youth about the current racial inequality between different races in the United States, I strongly believe that change will slowly but surely be attained.
Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood”, this was the main argument produced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his written work “Social Contract”. Similar to what Rousseau stated, I also do believe that everyone should experience the three rights to be able to live normally in a society. In the situation of racial inequality and women and LGBTQs(Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and queers), the theorist’s point of view is very applicable. Everyone should have the right to be someone that they want to be—to liberate themselves.
It is known that with in the society, women and LGBTQs are hindered to be their natural self due to what the society demands from them. The personality of men and women are boxed, or confined, to what society thinks is right. If a man or a woman gets out of the box created by the society, he/she becomes something of an anomaly. Racial inequality is not far from the movement of women and LGBTQs. The advocacy of racial inequality also fights for equal rights of each and every person of race and color just like the women and LGBTQs.
Many races opt to move to the United States as a means of improving their economic life. Due to their desire to improve their economic standard of living, they sacrifice being humiliated and discriminated by other more “acceptable” members of society. Other migrants become used to it or simply resign themselves to the fate that discrimination has become a part of their lifestyle because it becomes normal after a while. Some of these become a habit and later on turn into a part of the culture and the society. The abuse thus becomes societal and cultural because there are no contradictions made by the community.
The women and LGBTQs have the same issues; the only difference is to whom the focus of inequality is being addressed. Women and LGBTQs topics have been discussed in class that they are treated unequally due to their gender or preference. Their gender limits their capabilities, opportunities and development because of the norms of the society. One example is the situation of the lesbians and gays that want a legal marriage which is accepted by the government and eventually will also be accepted by the society.
The most helpful historical mobilization factors that I see helpful in this paper is the movement created by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in his generation. He changed the system of the American society where in the hierarchy was with the white Americans and the African-Americans were mostly slaves. They did not have the civil rights, actually any rights, which white Americans enjoy. He changed the social treatment and status of the African-Americans and persuaded the American people to give them the respect and fair treatment.
His non-violent protests had been known due its peaceful but effective results. His protests and calls for action to the African-American people have changed the American society as well as point of view of the world. The action and passion of Rev. King inspired me to think of a peaceful but persuasive way of educating people about racial inequality with women and LGBTQs. I do believe that peaceful actions would leave a different impact to each individual because it is new and unique for most of them. Historical Formation: Racism is not a foreign concept in different parts of the globe.
In Europe, anti-Semitism had always been present in varying degrees. It is evident due to the planned eradication of Jews during World War II, as well as the European’s colonial expansions in Asia, Latin America and Africa. The colonizers often encounter a “non-white and non-Christian peoples” which led them to forming a concept of the “Others. ” Providing names and defining the colonizers from the natives created a separation, instead of a classification, within the relationship of these groups. Defining their differences led to claiming races as a category of hierarchy.
The Europeans in the 19th century were ranked as the superior races based on their pseudo scientific theories (cited in Wieviorka, Hohm & Glynn, 2003). In other parts of the world such as Japan, there is also racial inequality. The indigenous Ainu tribe of northern Japan owned huge amounts of rich lands. The lands that the Ainu possessed had been long been desired by the urbane Japanese. Due to Western ideas that were slowly absorbed in the Japanese society, the Ainu are considered inferior compared to those that lives in the southern part of Japan.
The situation of the Ainu is also experienced by other indigenous peoples in the world, such as the indigenous Hawaiians, the Maoris of New Zealand, Native Americans and others (cited in Siddle in Hohm & Glynn, 2003). The problem of racial inequality had always been present in different parts of the world, but in the United States, particularly in the state of California racial inequality is quite prevalent. The history of racial inequality has always been present in the American Society. In California, sociological research had been made in accordance to the issue of racial inequality.
The focus of the studies was about African American / Anglo problems which are mostly relating to slavery and the post-Civil War effects. The history of slavery started in mid-1800 when the Spaniards and Anglo Americans (European immigrants) were in contact. After a few years, Asians also arrived in the United States, followed by African Americans and European groups entering the state. (Hohm &Glynn, 2003) In the state of California, the first interracial conflict began in the mid 1760 until 1800. With in these years, the Spaniards built missions and forts. They were in contract different Native American Tribes and some linguistic groups.
The problem of the native Americans back then was their inability to unite and fight against the colonizers. Instead, the Spaniards encouraged the old enemies of the tribes so that they will fight one another (cited in Kroeber, Holm & Glynn, 2003). The goal of these Spanish colonizers was to convert these tribes to the Catholic religion and hone them to become “gente de rason” or the “people of reason”. The main interest of these colonizers was to train them as ranch hands on their lands. As the colonizers were slowly acting on their plan to spread Catholicism, the soldiers were raping women and killing men.
Although the Spanish law states that Native Americans are still human beings with rights and privileges (Hohm & Glynn, 2003). In the 1840’s the view of the Spaniards changed radically due to the large-scale movement of the Anglo Americans. The solution that the Spaniards saw was the enforcement of a system separating the Native Americans from other races. Native Americans were seen as almost subhuman, being called such terms as “Digger Indians’, in reference to their primitive lifestyle of digging roots and eating insects (Hohm & Glynn, 2003).
They were relocated to reservations wherein they were excelled due to their skills in hunting and horse riding (cited in Almaguer. in Hohm & Glynn, 2003). As for the African Americans, California had promised more equality. Its decision to be a free state created fear on the part of the whites due to economic competition. The slaves that were brought in California were freed, but the slaves that had escaped from the plantations in the South could be reclaimed by their owners and sold publicly.
The African-Americans that were freed faced discrimination due the ideology which had developed through years of slavery (Fredrickson in Hohm & Glynn, 2003). Although California had promised equality to the African Americans, its legislation still prevented them from permanently settling in the state and was forced to struggle against the legal restrictions. Some examples are the discrimination in public accommodations and African American students needed to enter a different school.
They were also prohibited to testify against a case or to be intermarried with a white American (Anderson in Hohm & Glynn, 2003). In some parts of California such as Sacramento, San Francisco and Stockton, African Americans were segregated into a different neighborhood and had the lowest salaries available. However, in Oakland and Los Angeles they free to own a piece of property and are able to have a job in manufacturing factories which created a stronger middle class African-Americans in Los Angeles (cited in Broussard; Sonenshein, Hohm & Glynn, 2003).
The Asians also faced hardships in migrating in the United States. In San Francisco, Japanese and Chinese communities were the first ones to face discrimination held from white “nativists”. Chinese people arrived during the “Gold Rush” era, working the mines and rail roads because they accepted cheap labor pay. Soon after, they began to create their own enterprises (cited in Takaki, Hohm and Glynn, 2003). In 1849, acts of violence against Chinese were already common. In Los Angeles, crimes against Chinese were very violent that included hangings, arson and stabbings.
In one incident, a mob of more than 10,000 whites went to San Francisco Chinatown and they were ejected from 35 different California communities. After the incident, many ordinances and laws were approved in the local and national level. The white “nativists” were not satisfied with the restrictions that the government had placed and forced the lawmakers to really push the Chinese out of the country. Through the help of legislators, the “Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882” was enacted, forbidding Chinese laborers from working and entering the United States, and banning Chinese from becoming naturalized Americans for 10 years.
Although the economy of the United States was progressing and the owners of the farm lands had desired cheap labor, the Chinese were eventually replaced by Filipinos, Koreans and Japanese, but like the Chinese they were also harassed because the Anglo Americans wanted dominance within the labor force (cited in Takaki, Hohm & Glynn, 2003). After the Asians entered the American Society, “color replaced culture became the most important barrier into the mainstream society. ” (Hohm & Glynn, 2003).
The Mexicans or the Hispanics were in a unique position in the stratification system. The Anglos that took over in the state left many of those who landed in the aristocracy with property and power. Intermarriage was sanctioned although upper class Mexicans were considered as Europeans, so it was not anti-social or a “taboo” in their doctrines. However, the elites were spending too much and was said to be wasteful. The Mexicans lost their lands and power due to legal battles against Spanish property grants.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo accorded the Mexican people in the United States full citizenship. The California law had differentiated among white Mexicans and “Indian” Americans wherein white Mexican males could vote in California while Indian Mexicans were not allowed to vote. The segregation of the white Mexicans were left to communities. Due to the segregation made in the communities, the Mexicans were disenfranchised politically. The law also dealt harshly with them and unequal justice was often experienced by them.
Because of this, the fear of a Mexican rebellion, competition of economic resources and the fear of frequent mob invasions of Spanish-speaking areas, group arrests and execution (cited in Pitt, Hohm & Glynn, 2003). The average Mexicans remained in agriculture and economically compete with the Chinese and African Americans. These workers fell into class minorities and were stuck in rural labor (cited in Menchaca, Hohm & Glynn, 2003 ). Hypothesis: Based on the history of racial inequality provided by Hohm and Glynn, the problem is evidently based on the norms of the society.
The problem is deeply rooted from the past and is difficult to change because it had already been a part of the culture. Although there are Americans open for equality, there are still a lot of conservatives and traditionalists who believe that social class is defined by race and color. To them, the problem had been both societal and cultural. From a functionalist point of view, the social class wherein these immigrants are placed is due to the need of the society. In the historical view, most of these immigrants were taken from their countries to work as laborers.
Most of them did not progress and were trapped in their social classes until now, majority of them still poor and experiencing poverty. I view that these immigrants are still discriminated against because this is what the society needs them to be. It is their role to be poor and to work as a laborers or factory workers. If they do prosper, there is again a need to import laborers to provide businesses with cheap labor. Somehow, I do think that they are discriminated because they are needed by the society with their function. They are laborers and that is what the society needs them to be.
If there is change, there also will be change in the society. The change in the society is likely not to be acceptable in the part of other immigrants or the white Americans. On the part of the white Americans, the feeling of being invaded by the immigrants is also an issue. Being in their own land and being economically over taken by another race would seem to be unfair to them due to this situation. They (white American) society tends to discriminate and to create inequality toward immigrants. Somehow it is insecurity and fear that brings them to their actions and results to such acts.
The abuse made towards a group of persons if not properly addressed immediately becomes part of the society. If no one acts against the abuse, the abuse becomes a cycle. The cycle becomes a norm because it keeps on happening everyday. The abuse then becomes a part of everyday life. Eventually it becomes a part of the society. Through analyzing the situation of racial inequality, it is evident that black Americans back then were seen as slaves. The black slaves fought against the norms of the society, but the abuse was already engraved in the culture which results to the current problems that the society has.
In order to fully create equality within the society, there should be awareness. As mentioned, the abuse becomes cultural and societal that it becomes “right”. The abuse becomes legal. Awareness of the people creates concern for the society and the people within it. The government must do awareness programs and must evidently show the people that equality and freedom must prevail. Non-Governmental organizations must create actions in coordination with the other governments as well as to other organizations. Method of Implementation:
In order to act against racial inequality, I have developed an idea which certainly would promote and educate individuals. As mentioned, I plan to direct my action to the youth. I do believe that the youth are our future. They are very idealistic in what they want to achieve. They are very hopeful and passionate which makes them the right candidate for the program that I created. Before starting my plan, I have decided that I need to present my plan to an organization that has the same advocacy as I do. Having an organization support my plan will make it more accessible for the interested participants to join the camp.
The program would also be provided with facilitators that could help me secure the campers as well as making the program more interesting and enjoyable. I plan to create a 1 week summer youth camp discussing racial inequality in the United States. Having different races in the camp is preferred to make it more realistic and interesting for the participants. The age of the participants will range from 13-20 years old, the participants staying in one big room so that they could easily interact with one another thus promoting equality among them.
Males and females should be separated because of some concerns. The camp would have 3 major activities. First, a lecture series would be conducted discussing the history of racial inequality in American society. The past will be presented to the youth through video presentations, interviews, and films to make them see what truly happened. The history of the movement will be related to popular culture. Music will be the best way of connecting the history and the current generation. The program would provide them time to analyze the music and the feeling behind it.
I believe that it would be interesting for the participants to hear another form of music other than the current hits. Videos of interviews would be presented through out the camp as well as real people that know the truth about the past and current racial inequality. The people invited to talk in the lectures could be interviewed by the participants. Film such as documentaries, independent films, Hollywood films and the like would be used to truly capture what the camp needs the participants to learn from the camp. After the lecture, everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts and reactions about what they have currently seen.
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