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Maleah Harris

February 24, 2014

Social Inequality and Stratification
Dr. Karen Young
Chapter 8: Racial and Ethnic Inequality
The most significant factor in determining the quality of life a
group of people may experience in the United States is class or
economic background. The factor of class is deeply affected by
another, closely related measure, which is race. Race and class are
deeply intertwined in the United States and the perception of one
frequently has a notable impact on the other, as displayed throughout
the history of American society. Unfortunately, since the U.S. is one of
the more well-known and high-ranked hubs of social and wealth
inequality in the world, it follows that an individual's or group's race,
something they cannot control, can deeply impact their well-being
within the United States.
One of the most interesting perceptions about race is that those
often classified as "White" do not often think of the term "race"
applying to them, but only to non-white others. "Whiteness" is placed
as the standard and measure of 'normality' in the United States,
especially by groups of Whites, and since they comprise the majority of
the country's population, those who deviate from this standard can
suffer socially, economically, and psychologically. This deviation is
often punished through law enforcement or inhibition from further
economic advancement, as evidenced in Blacks and Latinos. However,
these issues are often not viewed as the result of systematic and
popular discrimination, but as individual shortcomings or mistakes.

This perception can be blamed upon Whites's frequent ignorance of

their privileges, and the fact that a dominant group's prvileges define
the oppression of minority groups.

Wealth and Inequality in America

Income and wealth inequality in America is extensive and largely
based upon the socio-historical development of the country. Race and
class are significantly intertwined with wealth inequality, with the latter
determining the earning power of groups of individuals located in the
former. Work ethic alone has not proven to guarantee a satisfying
standard of living in the United States. Instead, those who have fivefigure salaries must often combine their earning forces together to
barely generate a six-figure income. This combinative effort of
increasing net worth is usually accomplished through marriage, which
is not an option for all inhabitants in the United States, since some
states only view marriage as an occurrence between a man and a
woman. The top earners in the United States are those who see the
most increases in their income rather than any of the lower classes,
whether they are middle or working-class individuals or families.