There are a number of theories applied in sociology that help determine the social aspect of human beings in terms of their experiences. These theories include: conflict theory, feminist theory, sociological theory just to mention but a few. These theories define the interaction of social groups and helps evaluate their experiences in terms of race, gender, ethnicity and social class. These issues can be observed through various sociological perspectives such as functionalism, conflict theory and symbolic interactions (Leger, 2003). Therefore, the focus of the paper is assessing two ethnic communities in the United States in terms of race, gender and social class from the perspective of conflict. It will further assess how gender is treated in these minority groups as well as the work of religious traditions in the construction of social reality among these groups.
Conflict theory is often used to explain inequalities of gender, social class, education, race and ethnicity. It is uses different perspectives of the United States history to examine the numerous past and current struggles between the ruling class and racial and ethnic minorities. The conflict theory is mostly applied in explaining race and crime and assumes that the social structure is best understood in terms of the conflict between or tension between competing groups (Schlund-Vials, 2011). This conflict brings about significant economic disparity and structural inequality in education, labor market, housing and health care delivery. The conflict theory brings about competition between groups with unequal economic and political power where the minorities are exploited or ignored by the dominant group (Leger, 2003).
The African-Americans are among the major minority groups in the United States who face severe challenges in terms of discrimination against race, gender and social class. African-Americans arrived in the U.S many years back as slaves who had been shipped in to assist the Americans on their farms (Schlund-Vials, 2011). Upon arrival, the black population grew in large numbers to occupy part of the state. The slaveholders discriminated against the black population to an extent that they denied them the basic rights of citizenship. The dominant groups in the United States executed total control over the black population with the aim of remaining in power (Sue & Sue, 2013).
The African-Americans were thoroughly beaten, raped, denied the privileges of schools and health care. The dominant groups viewed them as inferior people. This went on for many years until slavery was abolished across the nation. The United States was divided in the aspect that the southern parts experienced immense economic growth due to crop production while the Northern part were divided due to racial and political issues (Leger, 2003). Convicts were leased to private landowners who no longer had the privilege of free labor of African Americans. The black population in return conducted demonstrations against this misconduct while the dominant groups trapped the blacks into the criminal justice system so that they could be returned to the labor force. This helped the dominant groups to maintain power and privileged status (Sue, 2013).
Conflict theory defines the experiences of African-Americans in terms of discrimination against race and social class by outlining the conditions that contributed to the African-Americans involvement in the criminal justice system. It also comprises of the power threat version of conflict theory which argues that when a majority population views a minority group invade on areas that were traditionally reserved for majority group members, they would respond by including additional social control. This is where the majority groups increase their investment in police forces as well as judicial systems (Schlund-Vials, 2011). Discrimination is also strongly brought out with respect to the African-Americans who were arrested for less cause than the whites. They were made to serve longer terms for similar crimes with the whites. They also received discrimination in terms of employment where the white population acquired top ranking positions and the blacks were pushed towards the manual labor. Black women on the other hand were not given any room to mingle with the white women as they were perceived poor. They only got employment as slaves or maids in the white homes (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005).
Even today, equality has not been achieved among the Blacks and white Americans as the blacks still trail the whites in areas of economy, health and education. Unemployment, insurance coverage and incarceration also depict more forms of discrimination and inequality among minority groups.
Another minority group that has faced much discrimination in the United States is the Hispanic-Americans. This group is said to have migrated to the United States in response to the need for cheap labor while others were fleeing the communist tyranny of Fidel Castro. This saw the migration of most Mexicans and Cubans either legally or illegally into the United States. Most tried to enter the United States via the border on foot and others through boats. The huge disparity in economics status between Mexico and the United States contributed to the immense migration. This brought about relatively low rates of economic and civil assimilation upon the Hispanic-Americans especially those who reside in the U.S illegally. They have fewer opportunities of advancing their economic and civil assimilation (Sue & Sue, 2013).
The Hispanic-Americans are discriminated along the conflict theory in terms of race and social status. They are often targets of stereotypes, racism and discrimination. For instance, in Arizona the immigration law has brought about much controversy as it requires that during a lawful stop, detention and arrest as the options that should be applied especially when the matter concerns Hispanic Americans. The law enforcers are required to establish the immigration status of anybody they suspect of being in the state illegally. The law perceives it as a crime for individuals from this group to fail to have documents that affirm their legal status. It also gives the law enforcers especially the police the right to detain and arrest the people they suspect of being in the country illegally.
The immigration law enacted in the United States highly discriminates against the Hispanic Americans as it gives police officers the mandate to determine whose citizenship they may question. If their suspicion is reasonable that a person is an alien who is illegally present in the United States, then it gives them the right to demand immigration papers. This policy has largely affected the Hispanic community as they are mostly affected by the law where police officers often harass them to produce their immigration papers on baseless grounds. The immigration law also encourages racial profiling which entails the illegal practice of the law enforcement using race as a basis for suspecting someone of a crime (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005). It has contributed to many Hispanic-Americans as well as African-Americans being arrested just because they are not white. It also leads to the minority groups being accused of most of the crimes and end up serving sentences they were not involved in. The notion Driving While Brown used by the police officers which involves the likelihood of getting pulled over just for being non-white has largely brought about the arrest and imprisonment of many Hispanic Americans. Police officers pull over any vehicle they suspect is not being driven by a white person.
The Hispanic-Americans have had many experiences in matters pertaining racism, gender and social discrimination. They have been reduced to minor groups with privileges of fewer jobs and limited movement. It has also inflicted fear among the community as they fear driving in areas where they will accuse of crimes against their race. The white population perceives them poor and discriminates against them due to social class thus they end up living in shanties or under developed communities. It also affects their living standards as they are not allowed to access education facilities or schools unless they have the legal documents. Those get pulled over are often sentenced for terms that they have not even committed. Most even end up being immigrated back to their countries of origin. Hispanic Americans get convicted of crimes they did not commit and serving longer terms than the whites. This experience is also felt in the field of employment where Hispanics get low paying jobs regardless of their experience while the whites get the top ranking jobs (Leger, 2003).
Presently, most of the firms in the United States have exercised this discrimination where top managers who are all white will prefer employing their family members and friends as long as they are white instead of promoting or employing Hispanic-Americans. This happens regardless whether the fellow white people employed are experienced or not. Crime rates in the United States have also been attributed to the minority groups such as Hispanic and Black Americans. Most white people discriminate against the Hispanic-American or even the Blacks with claims that they have great fear of crime when residing in areas with relatively higher proportions of Black and Hispanic communities (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005). Racism has contributed to the evidence that there are associations between various risk factors and fear of crime among the non- white communities. These minority groups live in fear of crime as they evade being convicted for crimes they did not commit simply because they are not white.
The minority groups in the United States face much discrimination against gender where African-American women are associated with poverty. This is felt through mass incarceration of the African-Americans which leads to huge reentry into communities. It also requires these communities to absorb ex-offenders with limited funding and services to assist reintegration (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005). This has caused legal reforms to hinder the ex-offenders from participating in employment, education and housing. Similarly race and gender also contribute to the challenges of reentry. This brings challenges especially to the African American women in reentry, reintegration and incarceration to the women who are mothers and caregivers before they become offenders. After becoming offenders their children get displaced and the income desperately sought, gets lost. They also suffer health consequences that are largely ignored by the mainstream society. Women from minority groups are associated with increased rates of HIV transmission as they mostly rampant in low income communities.
Women in minority communities are discriminated against more than men due to the fact that they are perceived to have no wealth. Most of the researches conducted have shown that African American women have reported having little to no money to save. This brings about their discrimination in terms of social class. Men in the minority groups get fair treatment and are offered employment at different positions; women on the other hand get mistreated and used as slaves or maids by the majority groups. This brings about their involvement in social injustices such as prostitution just to find ways of getting along with life.
Religious traditions have helped these minority communities by construction social reality. They have enabled minority groups to work together with majority groups where white workers are required to use Afro-centric approach in working with some of their African American workmates. Religion has contributed to the unification of ethnic groups as it brings them together through social reality (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005). It enables people from different cultures including religions to come together to communicate, interact and even negotiate with each other. It has brought together people from minority and majority groups to work together and facilitate peace without discrimination. It helps interactions between people from different social classes to put together their own particular version of culture or religion to incorporate the ultimate experience of reality or God.
Religious leaders have taken up the role of preaching unity and ending the discrimination against minority groups in terms of race or gender or even ethnicity. They have helped people become conscious of the socialization into different religions and cultures. This has been coupled with an awareness that individuals as a consequence carry around different versions of reality in their heads. It can contribute to people becoming more tolerant of the different maps or versions of reality that others also carry around. This ideology helps people from different ethnic groups to recognize that something much more basic and essential underlies all the apparent diversity (Sue & Sue, 2013).
The people in power help in the assimilation process as they give guidelines as to what action should be taken in the case of discrimination. They should be on the front line to prevent racial and gender discrimination by promoting activities that bring these groups together. This should involve games and other activities that help these diverse groups to put aside their differences and work together in promoting the social status of all the citizens (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005). Political leaders have also ensured that the minority communities are facilitated with better education and health care services in order to promote the living standards of the people. This is coupled with enhanced employment in major positions of the businesses in the nation which would boost the economic status. President Barrack Obama is a clear representation of the acceptance made within the diverse communities to be governed by someone who is associated with minority groups.
Leaders or rather those in power should encourage the minority community to take up roles and opportunities that would improve their ratings among the minority (Schlund, 2011). However, leaders have also obstructed the assimilation process by promoting strategize that continue to oppress the minority. Law enforcers in some instances have put in place policies that promote discrimination when they arrest ethnic communities simply for not being white. They have also obstructed the assimilation process by denying opportunities to the minority in terms not giving them the protection and opportunities to air their views (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005).
Racism and discrimination largely affects the participation of the minority groups in mainstream American life in that they hinder them from taking part in activities that are developmental to the society. Minority groups fail to take their children to school with fear that they will mistreated simply because of their race or ethnicity. African American women have been reported to ignore medical care for mental illnesses due to the perception that they will not be fairly treated. It has been proven that African Americans have received ill treatment in hospitals and health centers as compared to other communities (Sue & Sue, 2013). Racism and discrimination also prevents participation in mainstream American life due to the fact that the majorities are given better opportunities than the minority and thus they fear being humiliated. They also live in fear of crime and thus end up hiding or keeping their activities to themselves to avoid the law.
There have been trends that facilitate discrimination of racism and discrimination. These trends include aspects such as globalization, technology, politics, and psychological aspects. Globalization involves association of worldwide states to increase production of goods and services. This move has brought about interaction between people of different ethnic backgrounds to work together. It has also led to minority groups and majorities working together in various sectors of the production industry (Smedt, & Goossens, 2005). Technology is another aspect that has promoted eradication of racism and discrimination in that social networks such as face book, twitter just to mention but a few have enabled people from different races, gender and ethnicity to interact and share ideas. Politics has also led to eradication of racism and discrimination where leaders from diverse ethnic groups have come together to promote the social status of the country. They have also joined hands in eradicating racism and encouraged people to unite in order to achieve better lives.
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