Ethnicity in the United States


In the society, a person’s identity is ascribed to various aspects such as behavior, mode of dressing, culture, religious beliefs, and origin. When combined together, all these aspects describe who a person is and in addition, they aid in reducing the difficulties in interacting with people since the aspects help us know people and their beliefs better. However, in some instances, these attributes have brought about challenges in the way people interact. Although some of the key features that give identity to a person cannot be changed, they have been used as the basis for alienation of people and clustering of groups that deem others to be fit than others. One common feature that has been used to segregate individuals is the characteristic of origin that whose dominance is mainly shown through race and color (Peck, 2016). For years, the difference in race has been a determinant of superiority of the majority race and subsequently resulted to subjection to slavery and servitude for the race that is deemed inferior, the minority. In the US, slavery and servitude due to ethnic differences has not been abolished over the years. Observable efforts have been made to reduce slavery and servitude among the minority race but few have worked successfully. In this regard, this paper aims to establish that ethnic slavery and servitude has not been abolished in the US. In addition, the paper aims at looking at measures taken to reduce discriminative slavery and servitude.

Before the ratification of thirteenth amendment of 1865, most of the attempts that had been initially made to end slavery and involuntary servitude had not come to fruition (VOA, 2017). In the previous year for instance, an amendment against slavery passed by the Senate could not proceed to enactment following the rallying of the Democrats as House of Representatives who killed the motion. Despite the loss, through the efforts made by President Lincoln and other supportive members of the Congress, one hundred and Nineteen members passed the thirteenth amendment in the beginning of 1865 and were further ratified in December. However, although this was viewed as a key milestone towards the abolishment of slavery amongst the minorities in the US, the amendment that illegalized slavery and involuntary servitude had an exception that those that are dully convicted of crime. Through the exception, it has been clear that those that convicted of various crimes are not free from slavery and involuntary servitude (DuVernay, 2016). In fact, the exception statement is unfavorable to the African-Americans who are convicted at a higher rate than the whites, despite the fact that they constitute the minority groups in the US.

Through a legal storytelling and narrative analysis, divergent stories have been witnessed describing how the slavery of the African-Americans started through bringing the Africans to work in the cotton fields and plantations in the United States (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). While new legal storytellers such as Derrick Bell  are bringing out the gentility extolled by the slavery mechanisms of the whites, great old storytellers including Indians and Latinos, have described the brutality of the nature of slave trade years ago making it difficult to comprehend how humans could expose fellow humans to intolerable torture in the name of slavery.

However, although there are differences in the stories, the analysis by the new legal storytellers’ narratives aims to create hope that people of different races especially the majority race will understand what it feels like to be nonwhite. Through the stories, readers are helped to bridge the gaps that exist between the two worlds in order to change their perspective (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). In addition, court systems, including those lead by the African-Americans are slowly reanalyzing cases of racism through the new storytelling approaches of the Critical Race Theory. Therefore, through this process, the readers are invited to understand and critically analyze the situation of racial segregation and take steps towards increasing modes of interaction and reduce slavery today.

According to CNN’s reporter Agiesta (2015), it has been established that, in the last two decades, there has been a rise in the number of people who consider racism as a big problem in the United States. In 2015, almost half of the Americans believed that racism was big problem which is a huge difference compared to the statistics taken four years earlier that had indicated only 28 percent of the people had a great concern about racism in the US (Agiesta, 2015). These facts are in congruence with another study that has indicated that almost 75 percent of the African-Americans are likely to be treated unfairly in the American society today. Due to the significance of the level awareness regarding racism in the American society, institutions such as the law enforcement teams and the judiciary are having a difficult time addressing issues such as crime and violence in the streets of United States due to accusations by leaders and community organizations regarding racism. In the law enforcement departments, the issue of racial profiling has been considered to be among the leading challenge in the fight against gang related violence. This is because many gangs in the United States have racial attachment that is there are gangs for the Hispanics such as the M13 and gangs for the African-Americans such as the Crips and Blood. Therefore in the fight against gang violence the law enforcement officers are usually split between being objective in the investigation of a crime and using the racial profile of the criminals in the investigation.

Statistics further show that a high number of the minority race experience unfair treatment at the workplace, eateries, healthcare centers and in interactions with the police (Agiesta, 2015). Approximately 20 percent of the African-Americans experience unfair treatment with the police as compared to 3 percent amongst the Whites who constitute 70 percent of the population in the United States. This unfair treatment will in most cases lead to arrests which in turn will lead to incarceration and eventually inmates end up working for the state with payments that do not commensurate the amount of work done (DuVernay, 2016). In some states, there is no remuneration of prisoners for the work done. Despite the abolishment of slavery years ago, the critical race theory in the United States society is still impacting the minority races as seen in the employment sector. In the United States employment sector, the thought of discrimination especially in private sector economies has resulted in increased inequality in accessing employment opportunities in the society thus creating the income or employment level gaps in various societies as indicated by the statistics presented.

However, the situation is likely to change through the key role being played by the critical race theory today. Critics have shown how there is a higher rate of policing of the minorities who as compared to the whites (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). Critics are sensitizing on the need to for proper voting and distribution of power to reduce the highly discriminative law enforcement agencies. Today, for instance, lawyers use concepts of the critical race theory to argue their cases and reveal biasness in the judicial system. In addition, critical race theory has criticized key aspects that relate how grading system is biased and how the non-white race is marginalized in the sector of sport and academics. In addition, critical race theory has helped communities understand how minority communities have been sidelined when it comes to the distribution of resources in the communities. The different ideologies propagated by critical race theory have brought to light insights on how biasness has led to low ranking classes, deteriorated welfare and high poverty rates among the minority society in the US. In various levels of criticisms, it has been established that whereas poverty amongst the whites lasts in one or two generations, poverty amongst the minority is prolonged due to lack of opportunities in the environment resulting in a cycle of poverty in violent neighborhoods (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). Furthermore, access to higher education is determined by the preparation that an individual puts in high school education because an individual should work on his/her grades first in order to secure a spot in the universities or colleges around the United States. Therefore due to social disparities in the African-American societies in the United States that are caused by increased violence, drug use and poor public schools settings in some of the neighborhoods and towns across the state, many students are disadvantaged and cannot attain the required grades for college (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). On the other hand, due to low income among the minority communities in the United States, majority of the students cannot afford college tuition fees after high school. Therefore through a combination of the quality of education and affordability of private tuition education, majority of individuals from the minority communities of the United States bend up with only basic education that creates a further disparity in accessing employment opportunities in the country.

Similarly, today, the Critical Race Theory is sensitizing the public on how high rate of international globalization is segregating the African-Americans. The changes in the international globalization trends are improving through use of different technological skills especially so in the urban areas (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). However, critics have been able to show that many minorities are not able to access the skills required for the changes in the technological globalization. In the process, whites have a comparative advantage to the African-Americans when it comes to employment in jobs requiring particular skills (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001). The minority will mostly end in doing blue-collar jobs, an indirect approach to slavery. That is, the plantation farming and picking cotton has evolved to low income jobs that are below the minimum wage alongside huge power bills, gas and lighting bills in the household that is overwhelming for families. Therefore in the unites states families end up not having enough money for food or event housing resulting in increased rate of crime, drug use and school drop out that only creates the vicious cycle of poverty in the community with no opportunity but only poverty, drugs and violence. In the community, lack of skills and education among the young and energetic youths in the streets results in a cycle of more violence and crime resulting more able bodies men incarcerated in state prison and penitentiaries for most part of their lives.

It has been established that more than half of the families or friends of the African-American community in the US has been incarcerated (Agiesta, 2015). The situation is more critical for the African-Americans living in the urban areas, where statistics show that up to 60 percent are convicted of crimes as compared to 48 percent of the rural inhabitants. Based on the statistics, although there may be a just judicial system in the court, the circumstances of the arrest and representation in of the minority society in the United States is biased and hence may result to higher cases of incarceration. Even though an assumption was made that the inmates receive justice in their trials throughout the entire process, which is unlikely true, once in prison, the prisoners are subjected to involuntary servitude.

Further, observations have been made that although the thirteenth amendment had abolished a particular type slavery and involuntary servitude, it did introduced a new slavery phenomena in which a specific group of people who were in the previous system, still present in the current one, are beneficiaries (King, 2016). An approximated number of nine hundred thousand prisoners work for free or almost free to bring earnings of more than $2 billion annually. Apart from the work they do for individual private companies, the inmates notably participate in the preparation of their own meals; carrying out of other major chores, and reconstruction and maintenance of the prisons they are in. In fact, in various occasions, convicts have organized strikes and boycotts that aim at ending slavery in the prisons. This is evident that now there exists an upgraded version of legalized involuntary servitude.

The foregoing paragraph is in conformity to Derrick Bell’s ideology on White Supremacy. According to Bell, one of the key founders of CRT, the whites are in control of the people of color in the United States (Bell, 1992). There is justification of the fact that CRT ought to be the new civil rights activism. This essentially so since the actual advancements of the civil rights movements are in most cases coinciding with the self-interests of those that are in power and hence influencing the decisions made. In the Space Traders, Bell shows how the elite have no remorse for the decisions they undertake to trade the people with “a minimum 25 percent melanin” in exchange for technological advances from aliens (Bell, 1992). In the story, the eminent selfishness of the whites and discrimination against the African-Americans is condemned and the pre-service teachers are meant to understand the role they should play in betraying the supremacy of the whites. These points of view and opinion among the members of the society creates divisive politics in the society resulting in frequent conflict among the members of the American society.

In conclusion, the study has been able to prove that despite the changes in legislation, several aspects of inequality that was seen in the ages of ethnic slavery and involuntary servitude still exists in the US. Among the similar aspects of slavery as discussed in the paper include low level of education that presents limited opportunities for employment among a particular section of the society resulting in extreme poverty due to low income that is heavily taxed by the government. The other aspects that can be seen in the discussion of the paper is the development of a vicious cycle of poverty that is similar to the ages of slavery whereby an individual born to the unfortunate section of the American society finds it extremely difficult to attain their wellbeing due to aspects such as lack of quality education or professional training opportunities. Further, it has been indicated that the form of ethnic discrimination especially amongst the African-Americans is has been changed from the old system to a new system that is controlled by some elites considered to be white supremacists some of which have penetrated the civil rights movements. However, some key organizations such as the CRT are playing a key role in criticizing the perpetrators and also sensitizing the public to have an understanding of the current situation on racial slavery and involuntary servitude. Therefore based on the inequalities seen in the American society, there is division amongst the members of the society that still consider themselves as minority and disadvantaged years after the abolishment of slavery in the united states because they are not free due to social, economic or political bondage in the society.

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  1. Agiesta, J. (2015). Race and Reality in America: Five key findingsCNN.
  2. Bell, D. (1992). Space Traders. HBO.
  3. Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2001). Critical Race Theory (pp. 37-46, 101-120). New York and London: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRESS.
  4. DuVernay, A. (2016). 13th. Kandoo Films.
  5. King, S. (2016). KING: How the 13th Amendment didn’t really abolish slaveryNY Daily News.
  6. Peck, J. (2016). Contemporary issues of race/ethnicity, offending behavior, and justice responses. Journal Of Crime And Justice39(1), 2.
  7. VOA. (2017). This Day in History: 13th Amendment Abolishes SlaveryVOA. Retrieved 2
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