Racism: American Progress in the 21st Century

Outline of the paper

This paper analyzes the existing disparity among blacks and whites in receiving justice, education and healthcare which are explained through charts and diagrams. An attempt is also made to understand the problems of poverty rate among blacks and the extent of police brutality they suffer. Gay and lesbian right and whether its denial is a form of racism are also analyzed in this paper. Such an analysis will help to determine whether America achieved real progress for all populations irrespective of color and race in the 21st century.


There are notable evidences that prove the disparity between the black population and white population who are in jail or prison in America. This segregation is truly a disgrace to one of the most developed nations in the world.

The statistics produced by Bureau of Justice Statistics Correctional Surveys show the striking disparity in the rate of jail incarceration of blacks against that of Hispanics and whites. Statistics show that “Blacks were almost three times more likely than Hispanics and five times more likely than whites to be in jail.” The following chart illustrates this.

Jail incarceration rates.

(Blacks were almost Three Times More Likely than Hispanics and Five Times More Likely than Whites to be in Jail).

Again, another chart given by the same agency as part of their Annual Survey of Jails and Census of Jail Inmates, points to the fact that “Between 1990 and 2008, the number of Hispanic jail inmates increased at a faster average annual rate of growth (4.5%) than white (3.8%) and black inmates (3.3%).”

Jail populations by race and ethnicity.

(Between 1990 and 2008, the Number of Hispanic Jail Inmates Increased at a Faster Average Annual Rate of Growth (4.5%) than White (3.8%) and Black Inmates (3.3%)).

The data given by the US Department of Justice based on the above chart that demonstrates the number of Black, White and Hispanic jail inmates in United States during the years 1990 to 2008 from which the present scenario of discrimination to the minority groups in America can be inferred is given below.

Jail populations by race and ethnicity, 1990-2008
Number of jail inmates (one-day count)
Year White
Hispanic of any race
1990 169,400 172,300 58,000
1991 175,300 185,100 60,600
1992 178,300 196,300 64,500
1993 180,700 203,200 69,400
1994 191,800 215,300 75,500
1995 206,600 224,100 75,700
1996 215,700 213,100 80,900
1997 230,300 237,900 88,900
1998 244,900 244,000 91,800
1999 249,900 251,800 93,800
2000 260,500 256,300 94,100
2001 271,700 256,200 93,000
2002 291,800 264,900 98,000
2003 301,200 271,000 106,600
2004 317,400 275,400 108,300
2005 331,000 290,500 111,900
2006 336,500 295,900 119,200
2007 338,200 301,700 125,500
2008 333,300 308,000 128,500

(Key Facts at a Glance).

Education and drop out

Generally Blacks are backward than whites in education sector in America. This disparity is continued in 21st century also. This disparity started in 1968. And after 40 years there has been no big improvement of change in this case. Several new projects and plans are introduced by the American Government for promoting blacks’ education. But such projects do not succeed in its full range. A slight improvement in education level can be seen in Hispanic students. Many of Hispanic students complete their high school education. According to a website report published on 26 January 2005 “Blacks earn about half the number of college degrees as whites, and even those who make it have problems.” (Leading American Education into the 21st Century).

But this report shows a good sign also. It is in the year between 2000 and 2003 black students, that is, African-American and Hispanic students who study till fourth grade achieve improvement in their math learning and reading capability compared to the previous eight years.

Even if black students are willing to study, after some years they drop out from the school. It is a major problem in the education of black. According to the website InfoUSA U.S Department of State, National Center Education Statistics report, compared to 1970 drop out rate is declined in 2000. From 1990 dropout tendency from both blacks and Hispanic is reduced. (Livingston, 11).

The Following graph clarifies this truth.

Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds.
Figure1. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: October 1972 through October 2006.

(The Whitehouse Social Statistics Briefing Room (SSBR)).Another important factor is that the number of black students enrolled for higher education is very less. According to the recent report the number of black students enrolled for college education is only 13 percentages at 2007. While 64 percentages of college students are whites, 11 percent are Hispanic. (Contexts of Postsecondary Education).

From the above study one can find that in certain aspects there is a little bit improvement in the 21st century. The most important improvement is the decrease in dropout rate of Black students and the improvement in Mathematics at school level. But some other areas like higher education need more and more development.

The Quality of health amongst black and white

Many researches conducted on the quality of health among black and white population in America points to the difference in care both these groups receive. The medical findings on birth weights and mortality rates of black and white children substantiate this argument. In the web article named ‘The color of health and health care’, White-Means and Shelley I mentions about a report published by the National Institute of Medicine on the health care in America.

This report speaks about the racial discrimination in the field of health. A shocking finding of this report as stated by the authors of the above article is thus, “With the same income and health insurance, minorities receive fewer tests and specialty procedures and lower quality care for major diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.” (Means and Shelly).

Such mode of practice even in the 21st century is a matter of serious concern that reaffirms that state policy on health improvement needed parity, and insurance coverage should be provided to all citizens irrespective of class or race.

The number of black babies with very low birth weight compared to white babies is another indication that there exists disparity among two races. It is estimated that black babies having low birth weight are almost double than white babies with low birth weight. Again a statistical data on the rate of infant mortality is given by Elizabeth A. Howell, M.D., Paul Hebert, Ph.D., Samprit Chatterjee, Ph.D. et al in the article named ‘Black/White Differences in Very Low Birth Weight Neonatal Mortality Rates Among New York City Hospitals’ which says, “Black infants in the United States are more than twice as likely as white infants to die in the first year of life.” (Howell, et al).

Among adults also there is marked difference in quality of health. An instance provided by the article ‘Racial and Ethnic Disparities in U.S. Health Care:A Chartbook’ by Holly Mead, Lara Cartwright-Smith, Karen Jones, Christal Ramos, Kristy Woods, and Bruce Siegel is that “Seven of 10 blacks are either overweight or obese; blacks are substantially more likely to be obese than other groups.” The 2006 statistics show that 37% among the black adults aged 18 to 64 are obese when only 22% among whites are obese. (Mead, et al).

America can be considered as a highly developed nation in health care field only if the discrimination shown to the black population comes to an end. Recent legislations such as ‘Mental Health Parity Act’ that are trying to ensure parity in health improvement may become detrimental in eliminating these disparities.

Poverty rate amongst blacks and other minority compared to whites

Many blacks in America struggle due to poverty and deceases. US government announces and allots a lot of packages and schemes for reducing the poverty. But it can’t give result as per expectation. Actually there is a big disparity in the case of economic, education and other social status between Blacks and other minorities compared to Whites.

According to a report of Population Reference Bureau (PRB) at 2006, 21 percentages of minorities live in poverty. This report also indicates that poverty rate in blacks has decreased from 32 to 24 percent from the year 1980 to 2006. In Hispanics the poverty rate has decreased from 26 to 21 percent in this duration. (Mather).

Compared to 1980 the poverty rate in radical and ethnic minority is slightly decreased at 2006. The following graph shows the poverty rate that exists in America in White people and social/ethnic minorities.

Poverty Rates by Race/Ethnicity, 1980 to 2006.
Poverty Rates by Race/Ethnicity, 1980 to 2006.

Poverty rate in Black married males is less than the men who live with unrelated individuals. Based on the education level, poverty rate in Blacks changes. All these indicate that lifestyle and education level affects the poverty rate in Blacks. The poverty may be due to recession. According to a report published by Algernon Austin in 2001 they face recession and their job growth rate has fallen into a weak stage. It affects both White and in Black Americans. But it harmfully affects the Blacks. In the year 2003 unemployment rate in Black Americans shot up from 7.6 to 10.8 percentages. According to Goldman Sachs estimate this rate may increase to 11.0% in 2009. (Austin).

Job Discrimination against blacks in America

Job discrimination is another disparity that exists between Blacks and Whites in America. This job discrimination affects their economic growth. It leads to poverty. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the job discrimination against Black is in high level in America. It has rocketed from 374 to 1241 from 1992 to 2006. Their report also reveals the fact that “In Fiscal Year 2006, the EEOC received 27,238 charges alleging race-based discrimination, accounting for 36 percent of the agency’s private sector caseload.” (Walgreens Sued for Job Bias Against Blacks). In education and in poverty rate one can see that there is a positive change in Blacks. But in job discrimination rate it is not in a satisfactory condition.

Gay and lesbian right

Like Black they do not welcome or consider any Black Gays and Lesbian in any situation. They face discrimination in all fields like job opportunities and religion. People consider them as deviants and they are not permitted to participate in any camps. So these people struggle to lead a social life. In the 21st century the attitude against gays and lesbians has slightly changed. Now gays’ marriage is permitted in U.S.

Police brutality

Police brutality is a persistent problem faced by black community in America. It often results from the prejudiced view kept by some policemen against such minority communities and also some others believe that certain sections of population are always causing troubles and they need to be punished. The black population suffered violent police brutality during the Civil Rights Movement. Even in 21st century there are incidents of police brutality in spite of numerous laws and amnesty directions. A schizophrenic African-American named Ronnie Holloway was beaten by police in New Jersey, which is a recent case about police brutality. (Kessler).

The case of the Jena Six is the other example for racial discrimination against black community. Six black community students were arrested after a school fight with white students at Jena High School in Central Louisiana. They were charged with a case of murder attempt and conspiracy. The six students face up to 100 years in jail without parole. The reason behind this incident is that a black pupil sat under a tree in the school compound where only white students rest.

Another notable case of police brutality against black community is the case of Rodney King. He is a Negro from America who was the victim of police of brutality by Los Angeles police officers. George Holiday was the eyewitness of this incident and he was videotaped all happenings very nearby. The video recording showed Los Angeles police officers hitting King with their batons continuously. This video was showed by Medias around the globe which caused public outrage that raised anger over police brutality. And this incident made a large gap between black community and Los Angeles Police Department. Apart from the police brutality, black community is facing lots of other issues such as unemployment, racial tension, social inequalities, and poverty in America.

Work Cited

Austin, Algernon. What a Recession Means for Black America. Economic Policy Institute. 2008. Web.

Between 1990 and 2008, the Number of Hispanic Jail Inmates Increased at a Faster Average Annual Rate of Growth (4.5%) than White (3.8%) and Black Inmates (3.3%). US department of Justice. Office of Justice Program. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2009. Web.

Blacks were almost Three Times More Likely than Hispanics and Five Times More Likely than Whites to be in Jail. US department of Justice. Office of Justice Program. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2009. Web.

Contexts of Postsecondary Education. Ies National Center for Education Statistics. 1990. Web.

Howell, Elizabeth A., et al. Black/White Differences in Very Law Birth Weight Neonatal Mortality Rates Among New York City Hospitals. The Common Wealth Fund. 2008. Web.

Key Facts at a Glance: Demographic Trends in Jail Populations. US department of Justice. Office of Justice Program. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2009. Web.

Kessler, Jason. New Jersey Police Officer Pounds Man on Tape. CNN. 2009. Web.

Leading American Education into the 21st Century: Closing the Achievement Gap.. The Heritage Foundation. 2005. Web.

Livingston, Andrea. The Condition of Education 2006 in Brief. Ies National Center for Education Statistics. U.S. Department of Education NCES 2006-072. 2006. Web.

Mather, Mark. U.S. Racial/Ethnic and Regional Poverty Rates Coverage, but Kids are Still Left Behind. Population Reference bureau. PRB. 2009. Web.

Mead, Holly., et al. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in U.S. Health Care: A Chartbook. The Common Wealth Fund. 2008. Web.

Means, White., and Shelly, I. The Color of Health and Healthcare. Entrepreneur. 2002. Web.

The Whitehouse Social Statistics Briefing Room (SSBR). Ies National Center for Education Statistics. 1990. Web.

Walgreens Sued for Job Bias Against Blacks. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Press Release. 2007. Web.

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