Growing up in America, many of us have been exposed to racism in one form or another, usually only from one side of the fence. Characteristics that define each culture and race often go by unappreciated or misunderstood and seem strange to many Americans of a differing ethnicity. For a time, it seemed the nation was basically divided into black and white. Now, with so many varieties of cultures and religions, it has become far more of a “melting pot“ of not just race, but religion and culture. With all the different groups coming to the forefront of American Consciousness, the topic of racism has continued to be a pertinent and sobering topic. It seems, however, that people would many prefer to read about it or watch it on the History Channel.
So should we pretend it isn’t there and keep whistling away about how much our nation has changed and how proud we all are of our past election, etc.? Let’s understand, it’s the same old tune. It has just gone from a record to a cassette, then from cassette to CD, and now from CD to an MP4 that is being downloaded on various Ipods from coast to coast. This seems similar to the belief some people still hold of the mafia or organized crime syndicates having gone out of business (wrong again). They just have set up shop differently: brokerage firms in Spain, offshore construction business, banking operations in the Caribbean, money laundering in Lebanon & Serbia, commodity manipulating in South America etc (and yes Fidel Castro is drug lord friendly). This is true, whether or not it is contrary to the fibs being fed to American citizens on the 6 o’clock news. “It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Farmville, USA with bright skies and a growing economy, can’t wait to get to the office and put in my work effort to get taxed 45%! Goodness me, just wonderful.” You can still get weed or crack in Washington Square Park (or get busted by the undercover police) and believe it or not, clothes are still falling off trucks in Brooklyn (may or may not have almost bought a nice Italian jacket the other night, in fact). All of this is still prevalent, and Yes, there is still racism.
So what is the current State of the Union on racism these days? After all, we now have a somewhat black president running the biggest malfunctioning corporation in the world, the USA (got that phrase from Gordon Gekko-Wall Street, knew that would come in handy one day). Well, racism has gone in to “whisper mode” but certainly is not out of breath. One source quotes,
“Modern racism has evolved from an aggressive prejudicial behavior to a more subtle prejudicial behavior. This type of subtle prejudicial behavior has advanced to a degree that is much more difficult to see, yet is regarded as more severe. This modern form of racism has entered the workplace. Although many companies promise an equal opportunity, there is little faith that everyone is treated equally within their place of work. Subtle, modern racism is believed to create an image that seems more politically correct and thus discriminates through a “polite” form of racism, as opposed to the past when it was easily defined and institutional.
One of many examples of modern racism is the glass ceiling effect, which describes the ‘invisible’ differences in salary, position, and appraisals among men and women. According to the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, only 7%-9% of senior managers at Fortune 1000 firms are women (Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, iii), though women make up over half of the workforce.”
Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, set up by George H. W. Bush back in the 1990’s, basically found this, “there is prejudice in the work place” and it’s stealthy. There are still neighborhoods across the nation vastly different in ethnic background and income. So what’s with the pumping up of this “yes we can” and “a new America”?? It looks like the same old America as before—correction— the same America with a 10.2% (17%) unemployment rate (maybe this will level out the income disparity a bit). There are no overall fix-it answers or be-all, end-all solutions, there are only the personal choices one can make. These personal choices can be each individual’s answer or solution. One little sample society to keep an eye on is the Chinese: due to an influx of diverse racial, cultural and ethnic expatriates relocating to China, racism is starting to become a problem amongst the formerly homogeneous society, more than 90% ethnic Han Chinese. It will be interesting to see how they handle it….