It is an unpleasant topic that has arisen many times in the past, but regardless of those that work against it, racism is a very real part of American society, and has been for a very long time. There are parts of the country in which racism is not as prevalent, and parts where it is rampant, seen almost as a way of life. There is no truly permanent solution to the problem of racism, as it is an ideal held by those who either fear or despise, or both, anything or anyone that is different from what they believe is normal. Regrettably, racism has helped to define American society just as much as tolerance.
Racism is not generally confined to any one aspect of life in America, as it can be seen in more than a few different areas where prominence can be affected by culture, ethnicity, and even gender at times. In matters of political aspirations for example democracy is the favored method in the USA, though it was not always so. At one point and time it was common that only white males could even think of holding office within government, and even voting was left to white males alone. Asian Americans during the earliest days of immigration to the US were treated little better than slaves, as they were considered unfit to even vote thanks to their supposedly unknown ways and the fact that so many were controlled by the tongs, which were organizations typically believed to be involved in criminal acts and swaying those connected to them. (Greenberg, Page, 2014) In other words, Asian Americans were not trusted, nor were they particularly liked by those they worked for or around.
In the current day Asian Americans are far removed from those long ago days when prejudice and racism dictated where they could go and what they could do, though there is still animosity felt by some who believe that other ethnicities are a serious problem for America. This problem wasn’t exclusive to Asian Americans however as many ethnicities found it difficult to get by in a nation where their hard work was rewarded with little and their voices meant nothing as they were not considered true American citizens. African Americans are by and large one of the most talked about minority groups of the time, though Latinos were also heavily overworked and underpaid. At this time in America the only true voice one had if they belonged to a minority was that of the almighty dollar, and for some even this wasn’t enough, as they were still considered second-class citizens.
Asian Americans are far more welcome now than ever in the American workforce, and despite racist attitudes that come up now and again they are a very strong, solid part of the economy. Racism is still a very serious issue in America, but has thankfully been overshadowed more often by the necessity of Americans, all Americans, to pull together and create a society that is stable and capable of supporting those who already live here and those who come seeking the “American dream” that still exists in some part.
A very important lesson that many tend to forget is that at one point nearly everyone living in the USA today is a product of immigration, which includes Asian Americans, African Americans, Filipino, Pacific Islander, and even Europeans and the Irish, who were seen to enter the US in waves not long after a devastating potato famine struck in their homeland. Where some immigrants came out of desperation or through forcible removal from their countries, others like the Asian Americans came for the promise of wealth, a chance to strike their fortune in a far off land. (Takaki, 1998) Sadly many of those never reached their goals as they were pushed into hard labor and the most dangerous of jobs as they were seen as expendable.
In recent years this type of exploitation is no longer legal or even morally sound. This does not stop racist and prejudiced attitudes from following certain ethnicities around, be they benign or malevolent in nature. In politics the only true color is green, thus politicians seem to fade into their own culture, regardless of ethnicity. Outside of that however there are many preconceptions that arise as a result of old, racial attitudes. In today’s America there are few if any that haven’t been touched by some aspect of racism, no matter if they are aware of it or not.
Few people wish to speak about racism who are truly against it, as the idea itself is almost too harsh a subject to speak about without allowing emotion to overflow. Teacher and author Tom Driver goes on to state that old hatred and disparaging attitudes between races in certain regions still exist. (Driver, 2014) The only difference between then and now is the general legality of the acts that might have in the past been seen as completely allowable. People of different ethnicities are still unfairly labeled and even threatened because of who they are and what their race supposedly represents.
There is little question as to whether or not racism still exists. It is still alive and well in this day and age and still practiced throughout much of the country. In regards to Asian Americans it a very widespread and more diffuse attitude, one that is less disparaging as it is presumptuous, making false claims and assigning characteristics and traits that do not hold true to every last individual associated with such a culture and/or race. This is a common attitude towards many different races, the idea that if one or a few people of that race are capable of being viewed in one light or another, then the rest of the race is the same by association. This type of over-generalization is a large part of racism’s most basic structure, and a means by which the unfortunate and degrading practice is allowed to continue.
Mankind as a whole, regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture, is one species no matter what is said by anyone, and as such each and every individual is to be allowed the chance at a life that best suits them. Differences do not serve as an adequate dividing line as to who can do what and who deserves what, but typically this is what has been seen to affect the American mindset time and time again. If one person is different in some fundamental way from another, there is a good chance that they will be seen in a different manner, perhaps even treated in a different way simply because of who they are and what they look like.
Driver, Tom F. “Who Wants to Talk About That?” The Huffington Post. 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 19
Greenberg, Edward S.; Page, Benjamin I. The Struggle for Democracy (11th Edition).
London: Longman Publishers, 2014. Print.
Jones, Jacqueline A.; et al. Created Equal: A History of the United States (4th Edition).
Salem, OR: Pearson Publishing, 2014. Print.
Takaki, Ronald. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans.
Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company, 1998. Print.