Education and Racial Discrimination
The percentages of students graduating from high school has since 1970 been rising steadily for high school graduates, from 52.3 percent in 1970 to 87.1 percent in 2010 for Non-Hispanics and from 32.1 to 62.9 percent for Hispanics. When the statistics are looked more closely, blacks within the Non-Hispanic group come across as the disadvantaged group through the years, recording the lowest percentages for high school graduation through the years, at 31.4 percent in 1970 and 84.2 percent in 2010. Surprisingly, Asian and Pacific Islanders have historically recorded the highest graduation percentages at 62.2% in 1970 and 88.9% in 2010. Amongst the Hispanic communities, the Puerto Ricans ranked lowest (23.4) while Cubans ranked highest (43.9) in 1970 and 81.4 in 2010. This pattern also applies for college graduation more so for the Non-Hispanic communities, as the blacks Ranked lowest in 2010 with a percentage score of 19.8, while the Asian Pacific Islanders recorded the highest attainment scores at 52.4 percent. Amongst the Hispanic community the Mexicans recorded the lowest attainment level in 2010, when it came to college, achieving a percentage of 10.6, while the Cubans were the highest at 26.2 percent. The White and the Mexican communities were sandwiched between the two other communities in both cases, with 87.6 and 57.4 respectively in 2010. From the longitudinal comparison, it is quite clear that a pattern is discernible both within the attainment and achievement results for both the Hispanics and Non-Hispanics. The results based on their consistency both at college and high school levels suggest that improvements in the levels of female performance in a number of the communities over the years indicated, led to improved overall attainment amongst the communities.
The type of discrimination that is most likely responsible for the group differences observed is discrimination on grounds of race, national or ethnic origin. While the practice of education is not really related to race in anyway, indiscriminatory provision of education and educational services puts certain communities at a disadvantage while at the same time benefitting a particular group. Essentially the form of racial discrimination evident from the results was one of institutional racism, as the educational system itself is responsible for the perpetuation of the status quo. The fact that the findings indicate that in most cases people of color usually find themselves at a disadvantage reaffirms the belief that the process is indeed one of systematic institutional racism (Ferguson, 2013). For instance, the pattern that comes across, is one of entrenched racism, as within both Hispanic and Non-Hispanic communities the groups that were at a disadvantage in 1970, blacks and Puerto Ricans, still remain at a disadvantage almost forty years on, suggesting that such skewed results come about due to institutional discrimination, which as opposed to targeting individuals, essentially serves to disadvantage members of a group which exhibits certain characteristics, such as skin color.
When it comes to attainment both in high school and in college, blacks record the poorest performance amongst Non-Hispanics, while Puerto Ricans and Mexicans record the least scores amongst Hispanic groups, with the trend going back as far as 1970 and showing no indications of changing. Essentially, the findings seem to suggest that the educational system is structured in a way that encourages racial dominance by Whites, Asian and Pacific Islanders and Cubans. The systemic domination is seemingly embedded in the high schools and colleges, leading to the succession of the disadvantaged groups mentioned above being branded as abnormal, discouraging the quest for success within these groups while encouraging success within groups considered normal. It is therefore, plausible to argue that due to institutional racism most of the groups mentioned gained undue advantage due to the education system, which fails to take into account issues that affect the various communities’ ability to educate their youth. There is no denying that the socioeconomic status of a community affects its ability to take advantage of the educational system, a failure by the education system to factor such issues in the provision of education, is significantly responsible for the disparities that exist. The findings on the levels of attainment also fall in line with the concept of economic power and seem to be informed by decades of racial domination, as evidenced by the unchanging patterns of educational attainment.
Although whites and the other advantaged communities may find themselves in similar situations as the disadvantaged groups such as the Mexicans or Blacks, the privileges usually accorded to them, serve to bridge any such disadvantage, further serving to enhance the racial domination and hand undue advantage even in areas such as education. Overall, although the educational system and the provision of education may be done in a similar manner across the groups as depicted in the tables, the ability to effectively utilize the education, as well as realize one’s potential is directly hinged on the advantages these individuals may enjoy due to their race. These advantages allow the members of these communities to obtain quality education hence the better levels of attainment.
The relationship between Whites and Hispanics as well as Whites and Blacks in contemporary society is mainly guided by institutional racism. This is basically due to the fact that interpersonal racism is against the law in most contemporary societies and likely to attract unwanted and unnecessary attention if practiced. Further, the manner with which society is set up, tends to offer undue advantage to whites, as stereotypes as well as institutional racism, serve to further the interests of whites. For instance, the common stereotype that most Hispanics are immigrants within the United States and most likely living within the country illegally seems to have affected institutions such as law enforcement, which readily discriminate against Hispanics in the United States, effectively hampering their ability to procure gainful employment (Alba & Nee, 2003). For instance, white employers are likely to be more reluctant when approaching or employing Hispanic employees due to the stricter and stiffer punishments they are likely to face when found guilty of employing illegal immigrants. The law against illegal immigrants, by virtue of the proximity of the Hispanic countries to the United States, in itself leads to institutional racism. The relationship between Whites and Blacks in a way is also influenced significantly by institutional racism, mainly due to the difference in social class that exists amongst these two groups. As a result of the differing socioeconomic fortunes, as well as the well publicized and well known history of racism between the two groups institutional racism significantly influences relations between the two groups due to an inability to effectively take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves, or the limiting effect on relations that anti-discriminatory laws have on interactions (Levin & Nolan, 2011).
Alba, R. & Nee, V. (2003). Remaking The American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard.
Ferguson, S. J. (2013). Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Class. Sage, Los Angeles, California.
Levin, J. & Nolan, J. (2011). The Violence of Hate: Confronting Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Other Forms of Bigotry. Pearson, Upper Saddle, New Jersey.