Racism: Discrimination and Negative Psychological Impact, Research Paper Example

It has been about five decades since the nation finally decided to ensure equal rights for everyone irrespective of their racial background. Tremendous progress has been made since the 1960s to help minority groups improve their economic and social standing but there is still much work to do. Even though there are numerous laws in the U.S. that prohibit racial discrimination, law can only go so far to address the racial challenges. America has always been proud for its reputation as the land of free and equality and more resources should be allocated to combat racism at all social and economic levels. Racism is not merely an attitude but result in practical consequences for the individuals as well as the overall society. The society should fight back against racism because it imposes huge economic and social costs on the victims.

In America, one should be judged by his actions and not by his appearance. Skin color tells us nothing about one’s character but negative stereotypes regarding minority groups such as African Americans often lead to racial bias. The unfortunate fact is that even government agencies are influenced by racial stereotypes as NYPD’s example demonstrates. A research by American Civil Liberties Union found that 86 percent of the stops made by NYPD are of African Americans or Latinos and 88 percent of these stops do not lead to arrest (Atlanta Daily World). This is an example of how minority groups are subjected to biased treatment by the law enforcement agencies around the country and such actions by public agencies only lend further credence to racial stereotypes prevalent in the society. Similarly, companies also led themselves influenced by racial stereotypes in the hiring process. The stereotypes include the belief that applicants from minority groups may be less capable or they are not suited to promotion within the organization because they are either not ambitious or simply lazy to take on additional responsibilities. Even statistics point towards the severity of the racial bias at workplaces. A report for the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2010 found that unemployment among African Americans was four times higher than the white population. It is also estimated that about one-third of African Americans face discrimination at work (People’s Daily Online).

Racism doesn’t only cause social and economic costs to the minority groups but may even result in violent episodes against them. Racial elements are often inspired by their hatred to cause physical harm to the minority groups and arguably the most prominent hate group that has made a career out of racial violence in the U.S. may be the Ku Klux Klan or KKK as they are commonly known as. Ku Klux Klan was formed to commit violent acts against African Americans but the group now also targets Jews and other immigrant groups (Anti-Defamation League). According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has increased by 69 percent since 2000 to a total of 1,018. There are about 152 KKK groups in the country, 42 more than there were in 2010 (Sutherland). But violent acts are not limited to hate groups only but are also committed by individuals with racial bias. One of the incidents that has been currently keeping the nation occupied is the Travyon Martin case. Travyon Martin’s tragedy is probably best described by Richard Cohen in an online article that George Zimmerman was influenced by his racial stereotypes in suspecting Travyon Martin due to Martin’s appearance. Martin also informs the readers that blacks represent 78 percent of all shooting suspects in the New York City even though blacks account for approximately a quarter of the population (Cohen). We are once again reminded that legal system is biased against those from minority groups and often presume them guilty even without any evidence.

Racism also inflicts psychological scars on the victims such as low self-esteem. A study by Lee M. Pachter, professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, found that children from minority groups who are subjected to racism from peers suffer from psychological stress and their future may also be negatively affected as a result (Oliver). Psychologists have long known that racism leads to sense of helplessness and confused self-identities for the victims (Fernando). Similarly, individuals who are exposed to racism may also be less likely to take bold steps in life. Studies show that self-efficacy is influenced by position in a social hierarchy and children who witness racial discrimination feel alienated from the larger society and develop feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness (Sanders-Phillips, Settles-Reaves and Walker). Thus, racial discrimination also negatively impacts economic and social prospects of individuals from minority groups.

It is clear that racism should be tackled by the society on a priority basis because it imposes huge psychological, emotional, and economic costs on minority groups. Racial bias leads to unjust profiling of minority groups by public agencies and it also hurts their employment and promotion prospects in the private sector. Not surprisingly, the unemployment rate among minority groups is significantly higher than what should have been the case given their share of the country’s overall population. Racism also leads to violent acts against minority groups and Travyon Martin’s tragedy is arguably the most prominent example this year. In addition, racism also leads to low self-esteem among victims of racism which lowers their economic and social prospects in life.

Works Cited

Anti-Defamation League. Extremism in America. n.d. Web. 19 July 2013.

Atlanta Daily World. NYPD’s Commissioner Says Blacks are ‘Understopped’ by Police Under Stop and Frisk. 6 May 2013. Web. 19 July 2013.

Cohen, Richard. Racism vs. reality. 15 July 2013. Web. 19 July 2013.

Fernando, S. “Racism as a cause of depression.” The International Journal of Social Psychiatry Spring 1984, 30(1-2) ed.: 41-9. Print.

Oliver, Rochelle. Minority Children Feel Psychological Stress of Racism. 2 May 2010. Web. 19 July 2013.

People’s Daily Online. U.S. minority groups face discrimination in employment, says report. 10 April 2011. Web. 19 July 2013.

Sanders-Phillips, Kathy, et al. “Social Inequality and Racial Discrimination: Risk Factors for Health Disparities in Children of Color.” Pediatrics 2009: 5176-5186. Print.

Sutherland, Paige. Hate crimes decline in Illinois, but hate groups remain. 14  February 2013. Web. 19 July 2013.