Honestly speaking, does racism still exist in the United States today? I'm doing a large paper on racism and one of the points I have to touch on is whether or not racism is still in existence...

Honestly speaking, does racism still exist in the United States today?

I'm doing a large paper on racism and one of the points I have to touch on is whether or not racism is still in existence today in the U.S. 

Anything you can tell me with regards to this question I would appreciate very much.

Asked on by readeal3

22 Answers

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Well, the first thing I would advise you to do would be to place this on the discussion board so that you can gain a range of different responses as this is the kind of question where people are going to differ in how they think.

My own thoughts about this issue is that you need to be very careful how you define racism to begin with. What do you actually mean? It is clear that thankfully the days of lynching are long past and the fact that there is a black president in the White House must indicate that we have moved a long way.

However, some would argue that if you look at American society you cannot but avoid the preferential place that whites possess and the fact that whites still have better jobs, earn more and enjoy a better quality of life than other ethnic groups. Then, if you look at the number of blacks in prison compared with whites you have to ask yourself what is it about this society that results in such a disproportionate number of blacks in prison.

It seems that while the nature of racism has undoubtedly changed, there is still a long way to go.

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

If you really think about it, we are a very fortunate society to have come this far. Few times in history have people migrated for purposes of creating an effective multi-cultural society. As poster #7 notes, each generation in our society provides a new and more fresh perspective on the unification of our society.

However, I believe there exists in every person a distaste for that which is different from them. Thus, if someone likes different music than I do or different customs than I do, then I might have just a smidge of the wish to polarize myself from them. I see this happen in myself just with white people (I'm white) who have different views than I do. I build a little bit of a wall when we encounter disagreement. In our society, race often presents differences in culture, views, and positions. This makes many of us resort to that place in us that chooses to have animosity for some reason, even if it is not race. Unfortunately sometimes it gets associated with race.

MaudlinStreet's profile pic

MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

As poster #3 pointed out, there is no officially sanctioned racism in the United States, and there are numerous laws protecting citizens of all ethnicities from racial discrimination. However, there is no way anyone can ever legislate people's emotions or opinions. And thus, racism does certainly exist today. For example, some neo-Nazi groups are still organized and functioning, albeit in an underground way.

There is an ambiguous line defining racism. Some see Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle's campaign commercial about illegal immigrants as an example of racism, while others consider it fairly dealing with an issue. A well-established example of unacceptable racial discussion is the infamous "Willie Horton" campaign ad from the 1980's. Illegal immigration seems to bring about the most controversy regarding race in the nation today, as many Mexican-Americans feel unfairly targeted and stereotyped.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that you have to distinguish between racist attitudes towards ALL members of a group as opposed to racist attitudes towards members of a group who act, dress, or otherwise present themselves in the "wrong" way -- ways that fall in line with the negative stereotypes of those groups.

For example, (if you know anything about the NBA) there is a reason why people tend to be more negative about Allen Iverson than about Tim Duncan.  Iverson acts in ways that press people's "oh no, he's black" buttons.  The way he wears his hair, the tattoos, the aggressive attitude.  Duncan is "black" too, but he doesn't act like that and so he leaves himself less open to that kind of semi-racist criticism.

Of course there's racism and always will be.  But it is much less overt and pervasive than it used to be.

howesk's profile pic

howesk | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Yes, racism still exists. Though it may not be as clear cut as it used to be, it certainly exists. I think modern racism is often expressed in side comments, "jokes", and stereotypes. Most people would be horrified to find out that a branch of the KKK exists in their town, but the same people might laugh at a racist joke without thinking twice. I think some elements of racism are downplayed while others are considered shocking. Referring to a group of migrant workers as "the mexicans", for example, would probably garner a smaller reaction than referring to a group of people on the street as "the blacks".

I often hear the statement, "I'm not racist! My best friend is black!" In this statement, there is racism. Defining someone by his or her skin color is inherently racist in my opinion.

copelmat's profile pic

copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Agreeing with most others who have responded, yes I believe racism still exists in this country. I, too, would encourage you to define racism and the manifestations of racism more clearly in your paper. Are we talking about racial discrimination as it applies to specific economic and social opportunities or are we talking about deep-seated ingrained racial bias that influences an individual's latent thinking and behavior. One is much easier to document than the other.

Racism will likely never be completely removed from our society. It might be more helpful to think of the issue of racism and tolerance as a continuum. How far have we moved our society along that continuum in the last several decades? How much farther does it need to move and how do we get it there?

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Societies will have some racism as long as there are distinguishable races, so yes, we do still have racism in the US. I would certainly say we have made progress in the last half century, in that our justice system is less racist against minorities, although some would argue it still is, just more subtly so. 

Take the 2008 election, and a significant majority of Americans elected an African-American president.  However, only in the 18 - 30 age group did Obama win a majority of the white vote.  That's probably a telling statistic.

psmortimer's profile pic

psmortimer | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Racism exists. It always has and always will. The levels may change or it may be expressed more or less openly but it is certainly there.

One thing you may want to address is "reverse racism." That term drives me absolutely crazy! There is no such thing. If you have an issue with another race, then it's racism. Racism is not determined by the person or race being addressed. It's kind of like being sorta pregnant. ;)

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree that the laws of our land are such that racism is no longer sanctioned.  I also agree that the root of racist thinking is based on differences even more than race--race is simply a quick, easy identifier of "different."  Usually, actually getting to know someone from another race personally eliminates many of those differences; sometimes, though, the differences seem too insurmountable so racism lives on.

User Comments

zumba96's profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Racism does exist all around sadly and now we are aware of it more than ever. In the news you hear about hate crimes and what some of the people did because of different skin color and it is disgusting how other people view this. Racism also counts people stereotyping others and considering everyone in one race the exactly the same no matter what. With racism wide on the loose, while this country has greatly improved in numerous ways, this is a problem people need to address and work hard in order to defeat. 

thewanderlust878's profile pic

thewanderlust878 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) Salutatorian

Posted on

Unfortunately, racism does exist, and exceptionally so. It is quite easy to see that racism still exists, simply by walking down the street on most any day. People are constantly putting others down, making them feel bad, etc, simply because of what race they are. It is a shame that it is that way, but it will be near impossible to completely get rid of racism, because even if someone doesn't come right out and say something racist or rude to another individual, they most likely are still thinking something as they judge them, as most everyone will do. 

ik9744's profile pic

ik9744 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Racism in fact still exist in the United States, even if some people don't believe it. I've seen a lot of people been excluded in the times before, even this week. They've been sitting by themselves at lunch just because their skin tone is different. A lot of times during my History class in the past, when we talk about slaves they all look at the guy that is african american. Which is surprisingly sad seeing them do that. I mean he is no different from us, some come from India, Asia, and some born here. I don't see anything different, except our skin colors. In my middle school, we were given a option to eat lunch or play basketball before/afterwards. When we do play basketball it's always the, "Asians vs the others." For some reason it always ended up like that. Even though the Asian team still enjoyed playing it still seems to offend them a little even if they chose so. We use to play this game called, "Knock-outs" and people would form alliances in the game, or we call it pacts. Not surprisingly, all the race of different people created a pact that doesn't include different skin colors. There was pact called, the asians pact, the irish pact, the Mexicans, and stuff like that. So I think that racism still occurs to this day even if most of us don't like it we have to accept it. I hope the answer your question! 

Short answer:

Yes, even at my current/past school.

rbschreiber's profile pic

rbschreiber | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Is racism still around in America? Interesting question, and a valid one. I would say that institutionally, at least in theory, racism is pretty much null and void. It is now illegal to discriminate (as far as hiring, marrying, arresting, etc.) someone solely becaue of their racial background or appearance.

With that said, are there some people who still hold judgments based on the race of whoever they are interacting with? Are there Americans who treat some races differently than others? Yes, unfortunately, there sure are and there likely will be for a long time to come. Some people have been raised believing or experienced certain races belong in a certain light or are not as valued as others. This is a tough belief to combat, but it is not yet dead.

drew751531's profile pic

drew751531 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Of course racism still exists. I would propose that racism is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just normal. Now before everyone starts getting mad at me, let me explain.

We, as people, naturally flock to that which we are familar with. For example, if you watch a class of young kids, the girls and boys will naturally seperate and begin to form cliches. Is this bad? No, it's just human nature.

Now, it is obvious that racism that causes harm (emotional or physical) is wrong.  But racism, in general, is just a fact of human nature.

(I also don't like it when racism is usually defined as white people being against everyone else. Always remember that racism goes both ways. Blacks can be equally racist against Whites, as Whites can be against Blacks.

crister's profile pic

crister | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Yes, there is still racism in the United States.  I teach in a school that would rival the United Nations in the races that are represented, but there are towns very close by who do not welcome people with any skin pigmentation to own property and live in these towns.  They may work there but they must be gone by sundown.   It is sad that people are still judged not by their character but by the color of their skin.

We have come a long way and the further distanced from the Civil War we are, the less racism there will be, but human nature will never completely irradicate this condition in the United States or in any other place in the world.

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