Are We Really Moving Forward?
When my professor asked us, "What is an issue that truly means something to you?" I was at first at a loss. It wasn't because I didn't know what to write about, but because there have been so many things that have sparked a defiant passion within me over the years. The category, to which I filed my paper under, was Tolerance. "What kind of tolerance?" he asked me. I thought about it for a while, the category was so vast. . . had so many points to touch on, how could I just settle on one and call it good? So I touched on discrimination and how ethnic children are given less of a chance as soon as their first years in school, as well as why. I touch on gay marriage, racial profiling in the law system and public, and even stereo types when it comes to immigrants and more. You will realize, if you didn't already, how much of an advantage it is if your skin is light. I will warn you that the nature of my paper makes it long, but I was told that it was very much worth the read. Should you wish to open your mind to the facts that I am about to share with you, then please read on.
Are We Really Moving Forward
By: Kylee Alonzo
What is tolerance? One definition of the word means: A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion nationality, etc.. Differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.) Now a days, everyone is pushing others to be politically correct, but what does politically correct mean? It is defined as: Marked by or adhering to a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving especially race, gender, sexual affinity, or ecology. Just because we are more politically correct does not mean we are more tolerant.
We believe that discrimination is down in the United States because it is a comforting thought, it makes us feel like we are moving forward, more progressive and accepting. The truth of the matter is that Discrimination is still alive and, in some areas, thriving. According to the U.S. Education Department, based on the data that they have collected between 2011-2012, students of minorities are punished more often and have less access to veteran teachers than their Caucasian peers. In fact, the study showed that black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their Caucasian peers. Every two years a survey is conducted and this is what the results showed, the five percent of Caucasian students that were suspended annually was dwarfed by the 16 percent of black students. Furthermore, it was shown that there was a 12 percent rate of black girls that were suspended annually; which is a much higher rate for any other girls of other ethnicities and even for most boys of all categories’. Some might look at these ratings and decide that the Caucasian students are simply better students, but before you try to make that conclusion, look at some of what these children have to deal with. 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements and there is a whole seven percent of our nations black students who are stuck in these schools. Sometimes there isn’t even a fighting chance for these students to begin with. Teachers with divers classes with higher black and Latino student enrollment are actually paid $5000 less than teachers who have more Caucasian based classes. This is the case with a least every one in four school districts. U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan made the following statement, “This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain. In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed.” (Joy Resmotivitis 03-21-2014)
It is easy to look at the data on a piece of paper and agree that there is a problem but the true effort comes from trying to do something about it. A lot of people are decently content with the way things are now. Whom will agree, that as long as no one says the wrong thing or steps on anyone’s toes then everything will simply be fine and dandy. By strapping on politically correct masks and burying our heads in the sand we as a nation accomplish nothing. The United States becomes no better for it, for only a fraction of its people are receiving the proper education they need to accomplish great things. That would mean, no more segregation, discrimination, racism, intolerance, racial profiling, stereo typing, and no more ignorance.
Racial profiling occurs when police target people for humiliating and often frightening interrogations, searches and detentions based not on any evidence of criminal activity but on individuals’ perceived race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. (CivilRights.org, The Leadership Conference, ERPA and Racial Profiling March 2014) With that being said, in 2011 NYPD used their “Stop-and-Frisk” data to reveal that racial profiling is still a tactic that is practiced in law enforcement despite its proof that it is not an effective tactic in preventing crime. During that year 684,330 people were pulled over and of those people 87 percent of them were either Black or Hispanic individuals. Fortunately nine out of then of those people who were stopped were not given summons to appear in court and were not arrested. Also, in Arizona a report was filed by the ACLU that showed that Black people and Hispanics were two and a half times more likely to be searched during traffic stops, and that Native Americans were three and a half times more likely to be stopped for the same reasons, than their Caucasian cohabitants. The report showed that despite that these ethnicities’ were being targeted they found that it was Caucasians who were more likely to be carrying contraband, than any other ethnicity, over major Arizona highways. Furthermore, (CivilRights.org, The Leadership Conference, ERPA and Racial Profiling March 2014) The Los Angeles Police Department showed in a report in 2008 by Yale Law School researchers, that Black and Hispanic people were far more often stopped, frisked, searched and arrested staggeringly far more frequently than their Caucasian neighbors. The actions for carrying out these actions were not even justified, according to the record, and by local crime rates or for that matter; any policing rational extensive evident data from the LAPD. Of course according to as of October 25th of 2014 the Federal Bureau of Prisons made a pie chart to illustrate that there were 4, 001 Native Americans, 73,737 Hispanics, 79,835 Black citizens were incarcerated this year. Though each of those rates were dwarfed by the Caucasian rating of 126,325 and making up 59.2 percent of the incarceration. 98,082 of those crimes being drug related, making up 48.7 percent of the crimes that landed the inmates in prison, followed by weapons, arson and explosives related crimes coming in at 15.9 percent, Immigration came up to 10.2 percent of the reasons people were incarcerated this year and Aggravated assault, kidnapping offenses and homicide were surprisingly only 2.9 percent in the nation as of October of 2014. (bop.gov, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Justice.gov October 25, 2014) Also, while using the charts provided by Moyers & Company (billmoyers.com, Moyers & Company, John Light. May 22, 2014) it showed that in the year of 1960 the rate of Hispanic men in prison was around 550, the rate for Hispanic women in year of 1960 the rate was so small that it was not on the chart. The rate of incarceration in 1960 for a black man was about 1400 and for black women it was around 100. For Caucasian men the rate of incarceration during this time was about 250. The rate for Caucasian women was the same for the rate of Hispanic women, too small to tell on the charts.
Intolerance isn’t limited to race, in fact people struggle every day to be accepted based on the fact that they love someone of the same gender. The United States is fifteen states away from accepting gay marriage completely. Granted fifteen states doesn’t sound as bad when compared to fifty but that’s is fifteen states where couples are not recognized in their union the way other couples are. (Gaymarriage.procon.org, Gay Marriage Pros and Cons 11-26-2014) Even people who are objectum-sexual are viewed with less discrimination than people who chose living, human partners of the same sex. (Ranker.com, 13 people who married inanimate objects, Jude newsome).
The highest rate for a ban on gay marriage was during 2010-2011 and then began its decent into slow going acceptance, but it’s a start. 2014 has had the highest acceptance rate since 2002, where people were deciding to become more open and mainstream about their sexuality. It is sad that in the United States it is legal in some areas to be able to get an annulment with minimal hassle if they should get married because of a dare. The institution of marriage should be taken seriously and if two people are willing to commit themselves to it with love and devotion then who is to say that it can only be had between a man and a woman? Gay marriage is an issue and yet it is legal in 23 states for people to be intimate with a horse, what sort of message does that send to the people? (Zoophilia and the law in the United States, Wikipedia) Different states allow different levels of zoophilia, some permit you to only be intimate with a farm animal or a domestic house hold pet like a dog. How is it that accepting human-animal relations is something less of a concern to the public than how two people of the same gender, who love one another, spend the rest of their lives together?
It’s true that people, maybe a neighbor or a friend, may look at the situation of our country and not see that there is a problem with racism, or can insist that as a nation the US is better than people think. Some might even say that where the instance of racism is concerned, that people have become more sensitive and easier to offend, but that our nation is on the right track with being progressive thinkers as far as keeping up with politically correct terms.
The NPC (National Poverty Center, npc.umich.edu/poverty, The University of Michigan) showed that in the 1950s the poverty rate for all Americans was 22.4 percent (also being 39.5 million individuals). In 2010 there were a 12.4 percent of Caucasian children who were living in poverty. 16,401 children nationwide were living in poverty and of that 13.6 percent of them were Asian, 35 percent of them were Hispanic and the highest percentage was that of the Black children who held 38.2 percent of the nation’s children living in poverty. These children are faced with stresses that they shouldn’t know in the ‘Land of Opportunity’ but so often even the lack of resources provided to them at school along with the struggles of poverty draw a child to drop out to try to get a job to help a struggling family survive. What sort of opportunities are there for that child, be it of any race or gender? Should the US be content with letting these children slip through the cracks?
Some things still haven’t changed when it comes to equal financial opportunities. In 1954 the unemployment rate for Caucasians was 5 percent where it was 9.9 percent for the black populous. Of course the 1980’s hit an all-time high for both races, for the Caucasians it was 8.4 percent which was soon over shadowed by the staggering rate of 19.5 for the black percentage. Nearly twenty percent of the black community was unemployed, a crushing statistic when put into those terms. Fortunately in 2013 the unemployment rate came back down but the rate could still be better, with 6.7 percent of the unemployed populous being Caucasian and 13.4 percent being that of the black populous. When it comes to unemployment, a lot of people point the finger at immigrants. More specifically, Mexicans.
Teaching Tolerance (Teaching Tolerance, tolerance.org, 2011) put up an article about the myths of immigration. One of the myths is that immigrants are here illegally. People jump on to this idea all too often, especially when it comes to Mexicans. As a matter of fact of the 31 million foreign-born people noted in 2009 who were living in the United States, roughly 20 million of them were either citizens or legal residents. Granted that still leaves 11 million people and, yes, that is a lot of people but 45 percent of those people entered our country legally and simply let their papers expire. Another myth, which is almost laughable, is that it is just as easy to enter the United States now as it was for our ancestors. Immigration historian David Reimers states, “For about the first hundred years, the United States had an open immigration system that allowed any able-bodied immigrant in.” In our country today there are so many rules about who stay or at very least enter our country legally. The rules are so extensive and at time can be found to be utterly confusing that it would be difficult for anyone. Essentially many whose ancestors who were permitted in between 1790-1924 certainly wouldn’t not have been allowed residency in the country in our current time, they would just be sent back to where ever they came. One main issue that people have today is their belief that immigrants’ ‘refuse’ to learn English. Given the fact that only a very small percent of people do not come from an ancestor that immigrated to the United States, most can identify the struggle it must have been for their ancestors to let go of that part of who they were. Not to mention that English can certainly be a difficult language to learn. “Earlier immigrant groups held onto their cultures fiercely.” David Reimers shares, “When the United States entered the First World War in 1917, there were over 700 German language newspapers.” This gives us an example of how tightly, just one, category of immigrants held on to that piece of themselves; t is fair to assume that many others felt the same way. Besides, while immigrants’ today are comfortable speaking their first language in their homes, and rightfully so, research by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute shows that two thirds of immigrants older than five years of age speak English well if not very well. As for immigrants becoming ‘Americanized’ just note that in 2010 about 500,000 of them became naturalized citizens. Which was quite the feat considering all of the obstacles’ they had to overcome, just getting to the United States could have been hard and in some cases dangerous. Then they had to find a job, and overcome that language barrier, which you cannot imagine the difficulty of it until you’ve lived it. Then they have to pay the naturalization fees, which are anything but cheap. Then comes the fun part, dealing with the notoriously lethargic immigration bureaucracy and taking a written citizenship test. These people, who go through all this and more, are not the type of people who take American citizenship lightly. Finally, the finger of blame is pointed at immigrants for the lack of ‘good jobs’. Good news, according to the Immigration Policy Center, a nonpartisan group, research shows that there is very little connection between immigration labor and unemployment rates of native-born workers. Here are two reasons, an aging population and better educations, leaving people either unable or unwilling to take low paying jobs. So, usually to fill the void and as a necessity, employers often hire immigrant workers. Although, it also makes it easier for said employers to exploit this labor and pay immigrants less, avoid providing benefits and even sometimes ignore worker-safety laws and regulations. Instead of complaining, people should be thanking these hard workers because the American people benefit on an economic level. There are relatively low prices on food and other goods produced by immigrant labor.
If we as a nation keep burring our heads in the sand and pretending there is no problem here, then nothing will get better. If we strive to fix the broken fundamentals of living together in harmony as equals then we might have a chance at making the U.S. a truly great country. Before that can happen, discrimination and ignorance need to first become obsolete. It is a large order and something no one can expect to happen overnight, but it is a perfectly obtainable goal if only people were willing to work for it. So consider that we need a solution not hypocritical masks of political correctness while pointing the fingers of blame at one another. Until that all stops we as a nation can never move forward.
African-American Civil Rights Movement (1896-1954)
Huffington Post Politics, Joy Resmotivitis (03-21-2014)
The Leadership Conference, ERPA and Racial Profiling (March 2014)
Federal Bureau of Prisons, Justice.Gov (October 25, 2014)
(Gaymarriage.procon.org, Gay Marriage Pros and Cons 11-26-2014)
(National Poverty Center, npc.umich.edu/poverty, The University of Michigan)
Pew Research Center, Black unemployment rate is consistently twice that of whites, Drew DeSilver
BillMoyers, These Eight Charts Show Why Racial Equality Is a Myth in America, John Lite (May 22, 2014)
Ranker, 13 people who married inanimate objects
Zoophilia and the law in the United States, Wikipedia
Definition of Tolerance
10 myths about immigration, Teaching Tolerance, A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center
The Foundations of Teaching Racial Tolerance: 3 Myths About Racism in America, James Waller
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© 2015 KyAuna Alonzo
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