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Race and Ethnic Relations Signature Assignment

Is Racism a Thing of the

By Amelia Jack

SOC 2630 Summer 2014

Table of Contents
3. Reflection
4. Article Summary: The Truth About Race In

America: Its Getting Worse, Not Better

5. Prevalence of Imprisonment Statistics Chart

6. Article Summary: A Different State of Race

7. Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. Book Summary Why We Cant Wait
9. Gallup Poll

I can think of several examples of racism; slavery and the Holocaust being two
prominent ones. However, those are not current and do not reflect todays society.
Current examples of racism could be the Treyvon Martin shooting, discrimination
against Mexican immigrants in border states like Arizona or Texas, fear and suspicion
of anyone who is Middle-Eastern looking, especially if they appear to be Muslim,
based on their dress.
I dont know if racism between white and black people is as prominent as it once was.
I know that where I live in Utah, as a white person, I dont personally see examples of
racism because the area I live in is 90 percent populated by white people.
I do know that a lot of hip-hop music has a message of fighting for equal rights and
respect. I know that there is still a message of seeking equality in many movies. Even
if the movies are about a by-gone era, their message is still relevant. This makes me
want to know more about who is experiencing racism today and where it is
happening. Maybe because I am in the majority, I am unaware to the racial struggles
around me. I look forward to researching this topic and learning about other peoples
experiences and perspectives.


The Truth About Race In America:

Its Getting Worse, Not Better

Source Gary Younge, The Nation magazine, June 9-16 2014 Edition

This article by Gary Younge discusses whether or not progress is really being made in
race relations, or if that optimistic outlook is actually delusion. He claims that most
people want to be optimistic in general, and poorer people, especially, are the most
optimistic about their future. President Barack Obama is quoted as saying, To dismiss the
magnitude of this progressdishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid
the price to march in those years, but we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest
that the work of this nation is somehow complete.
Younge discusses how many great strides have been made since America was
basically an apartheid state half a century ago. However, he states, But the awkward
truth is that when it comes to the goals laid down by the civil rights movement in
generalAmerica is actually going backward. Younge claims that schools are starting to
segregate again, legislation is being gutted, voting is more difficult, many people are
having their basic civil rights taken away through incarceration, and the differences in
economic equality between black and white people are increasing. He supports this
argument with research conducted by ProPublica, the Institute on Assets and Social Policy
at Brandeis University, and the written work of Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow.

Younge ends the article on a somewhat positive note by stating that our society has
not gone to a complete reversal of the progress that was made. Positive changes have
occurred in the number of interracial relationships and the diversity in suburbs. He states
that if the black civil rights movement would have been about black faces in new and
high places, its work would now be done. But it wasnt. It was about equality. He thinks
our current state of interracial relations a setback, like that experienced after the Civil
War. Unfortunately, it took ninety years and a mass movement to begin progress for

Data taken from Bonczar,

T. (2003), Washington,
D.C. Bureau of Justice

Prevalence of Imprisonment in
the US Population 1974-2001

The percentage of men among their racial population

that are likely to be imprisoned in their lifetime.

1 in 3 Black Men



1 in 6 Latino Men


1 in 17 White Men


A Different State of Race

Source Karl Vick, The Washington Post, Sunday, June 1,

This article begins by talking about the cringe-worthy comment made by Utah's thenSenator, Christ Buttars. Referring to a piece of proposed legislations, he said, "This baby is
black. It's a dark, ugly thing." Upon receiving severe backlash for his comment, Senator
Buttars then said, "How do I know what words I'm supposed to use in front of those
people? Another story is told about Utah cosmetology student, Tamu Smith, who was
sitting in a class when a white girl walked by and touched her hair. Tamu told her to never
do that again, and she insisted on her right to do so because, as she told the Instructor, "If I
don't get to touch Tamu's hair, then what black person's hair am I ever going to touch?"
Several black people who are residents of, or just visiting, Utah that it is like stepping back
in time to come here. The population of Utah in 2008 was 2.6 million people. Less than one
percent of them were African American. One woman, Sylvia Morris, is quoted as saying
that there are white children in Utah who have never seen a black person before. Many
people interviewed related stories of how they were treated like a rare thing, a trophy to be
shown off or an oddity to be stared at. The problem in Utah, it seems, is that there is
profound ignorance about the African American race due to the lack of diversity among the
population and thereby a lack of diverse racial interaction.
Most of the people interviewed didnt take offense to the insensitive comments or behavior
they encountered. They were understanding of the populations lack of exposure to
different races and cultures. Erica George, a University of Utah law professor from Chicago
said, "I can't say it comes from a mean-spiritedness, It's ignorance and indifference. I don't
feel a cross is going to be burned on my lawn."

Focus on:

Martin Luther King,


Martin Luther King, Jr.


Civil Rights Leader

Nobel Peace Prize


Proponent for
Peaceful Protest

Inspiration in the
Struggle for
Equality in
Interracial Relations


Book Summary:

Why We Cant Wait

By Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this book, Martin Luther King, Jr. describes the conditions for the person of color in
the American south in the early 1960s, and why those conditions led to the 1963
Birmingham, Alabama lunch counter sit-in demonstrations. He explores how the
conditions for African Americans had not changed much in the hundred years since
the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.
In this book, Dr. King described the Jim Crow laws of the time, and the segregation
they allowed. People of color had to use separate bathrooms, drinking fountains, and
areas of buses, restaurants, and other public spaces because they were considered a
lesser race. He gives the reader an insider's view to the events and preparations that
led up to the campaign. He relates how he came up with a plan to hold the peaceful
protest that entailed African Americans quietly sitting at "White-Only" lunch counters
in Birmingham, peacefully demanding to be treated as equals. He also describes the
violent backlash those African Americans experienced as a result. Business and
Political leaders in the city eventually agreed to dissolve the policies of segregation,
amounting to a major victory in the battle for equal civil rights.
At the end of his book, Dr. King writes, I like to believe that Birmingham will one day
become a model in southern race relations.I have this hope because, once on a
summer day, a dream came true. The city of Birmingham discovered a conscience. "


This Gallup Poll
done in August
2011 asked the
question of
whether or not
people thought
that Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.'s
dream of racial
equality had
been realized. (5)

Has Martin Luther King Jr.'s

Dream Been Realized?








All Americans

After completing my research, I believe that racism is not a thing of the
past. As a society, we have come a long way from slavery in the 19 th Century
and the Jim Crow laws in the first half 20th century. However, inequality is still
a problem in many facets of American Society. It is more subtle than it used to
be, but it can be seen in the justice system, in education, and in business, as
well as the attitudes of many in the general public.
The positive focus on diversity and equality in the 21 st Century is
definitely aiding in advancing the goal. However, in places like my state, Utah,
ignorance remains the main problem. People dont see or know many people
of color, and so they assume they are different than white people somehow.
The focus can often be centered on a persons different phenotype, as
opposed to their character. It isn't necessarily hate that is fostered, but the
issue of inequality remains due to ignorance. The views in my opening
Reflection (slide 3) reflects this ignorance.
It is overwhelmingly disheartening to me to see that we, as a society,
have not advanced in our thinking to the point of looking past a persons skin
color. If anything, history has shown us the devastating effects racism has on
individuals as well as society. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I also have a dream.
My dream is that people who use race as a means to judge other people will
realize that there is only one race the human race. I dream that our
differences will not be a reason to fear others, but an opportunity to learn
from them. It is a persons life experiences that create their character, not
their skin tone.



4)Chicago Urban League Records, University of Illinois at Chicago Library,

5)Why We Cant Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr. printed in A Testament of Hope : The Essential
Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by James Melvin Washington,
HaperCollingPublishers, 1986