Rapid growth of globalization in XX and XXI centuries, accelerated by development of transportation means, communication technologies and Internet, has led to increased diversity of population and high migration almost within every country and geographic region. USA is likely to be one of the leaders in diversity: while in the beginning of XX century 87% of US population were white Americans, currently statistics shows that less than 75% of population are non-Hispanic whites (Marger, 2008). Besides Black Americans, Asian Americans and American Indians, such ethnic groups as Arab and Jewish population are growing and becoming more visible (Tischler, 2010).
In sociology, race is defined as a group of people defined as similar basing on certain physical characteristics. However, the very idea of race is controversial: researchers have proven that there are no visual or genetic combinations that are interrelated (Tischler, 2010). Thus, certain physical or mental features like skin color, shape of the nose, curly hair or intelligence coefficient similarly vary among every group of human beings, and the limits of the so-called “race” cannot be scientifically determined. In my opinion, racial differences are mostly based on prejudices and the tendency of social groups to increase self-awareness at the expense of subordinate groups.
During only a century the views on race have exceptionally changed: in the beginning of 1900s people in the US identified themselves as belonging to 6 major races; in 2000, many US citizens claimed multiracial ethnicity, and 15 races were present in the census, as well as 6 ethnicities (Marger, 2008). Members of ethnicity, or ethnic group, have common cultural traditions and identity. Minority groups, from such point of view, are regarded as groups having certain physical and/or cultural characteristics, and are treated unequally or differently compared to other groups based on these characteristics (Tischler, 2010). Recently the level of tolerance to people representing other racial, ethnic or social groups has significantly increased. For example, in 1994 less than 50% of Americans approved interracial marriages, while in 2010 this ratio raised to 77% (Tischler, 2010). Nevertheless, there still exists a high level of prejudice and discrimination regarding minority representatives.
I believe that all people have equal rights and should be treated equally, regardless of their racial, ethnic of other origin. My experience of dealing with people from minority groups shows that there are both good and bad people in every social group, and every human being is unique. It is pointless to ascribe certain features to groups of people, since it has been proved statistically that no features are directly related to other features (either physical or mental). No single person should be discriminated just because he or she is different from the majority, and all attempts to cultivate discrimination should be legally prohibited and punished.
During the last century our society, and especially the US, has greatly progressed with regard to protecting ethnic and minority groups. There are laws prohibiting employers’ discrimination during pre-employment testing and further admission process, the ADA Act protects the needs of people with disabilities (Marger, 2008), racial and ethnic minorities have received equal rights for entering universities and colleges, etc. However, strong prejudices still exist in people’s minds and are embedded into the “dominating” culture. I believe that changing the perception of minority representatives as “aliens” and extreme attention to differences between cultures and traditions should be adequately addresses by the government, mass media and educational institutions (Verma & Zec & Skinner, 1994). Also, one idea which is commonly missed when propagating tolerance is that interaction of difficult cultures and traditions should not lead to creation of one global culture. People should be aware of their cultural and ethnic identity, and this is wonderful, since they preserve and develop the inheritance of their ancestors. The interaction of different cultures leads to enrichment of all cultures, and I believe that the aim of anti-discrimination laws and actions should be not to integrate all different social groups, but to help these groups to collaborate, thus creating a new culture of openness and friendship.
Marger, M.N. (2008). Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives. Cengage Learning.
Tischler, H.L. (2010). Introduction to Sociology. Cengage Learning.
Verma, K.G. & Zec, P. & Skinner, G. (1994). The ethnic crucible: harmony and hostility in multi-ethnic schools. Routledge.