Important Dimensions of Racial and Ethnic Inequality in the United States
Racial and Ethnic Inequality Dimensions
Racial and ethnic inequalities have divided American society into subgroups that breed animosity, with some feeling treated unfairly in their respective communities. Notably, the minority races feel mistreated, while the privileged groups have an unfair advantage over others in different aspects. There are various critical dimensions of racial and ethnic inequalities in the United States, with each contributing to the path that many social classes take in their respective communities. Central to the racial and ethnic inequality experienced by Americans are cultural hierarchies, the differences in social-cultural capital, and the socioeconomic gap between the races (Artiga, Orgera, & Pham, 2020). The cultural hierarchies set the foundation for people’s interactions in their respective communities. Social-cultural capital influences the relationships people have within a given community’s setting. The minority races often lag behind in the social-cultural capital. The economic gap also plays a crucial role in boosting racial and ethnic inequality as the privileged races find it easy to access and participate in economic activities, thus empowering their people at the expense of the minority groups. Insight into these dimensions of racial and ethnic inequality will reveal the appropriate strategies to employ to minimize the adverse effects of vice in American society.
Cultural Differences: Cultural Hierarchies
Cultural differences are instrumental in making groups unique, but they provide social structures for creating and ranking social groups based on the differences. The size of a cultural group influences its space in society. Accordingly, the larger cultural groups have immense control over the smaller cultural groups as their size gives them the strength to influence major decisions favorable to their desires. As such, in America, White America’s culture is dominant over other smaller races. The superiority of the White Americans’ culture enables them to enjoy immense influence on the significant activities that are instrumental in shaping their lives. Cultural power lends itself to a social power that is important in influencing people’s lives by controlling the prevailing norms and rules and making other races adhere to them voluntarily or involuntarily (Artiga, Orgera, & Pham, 2020).
In the American setting, the Whites wield immense power and influence over the other races because of the dominance of their culture. The other minority races often adhere to the White race’s culture. Although culture is not a direct reflection of people’s social world, human behavior mediates cultural meaning and defines the social world around them. As a result, individuals in a given society tend to follow the dominant culture’s path. Most noteworthy, culture reflects the world, and the White culture has been a key element in advancing racial inequality. The common White culture in American society is a result of the selective transmission of elite-dominated values through cultural hegemony. Notably, the White culture is not autonomous but conditional as it is dictated and regulated by the dominant White Americans. Being the culturally dominant group, White Americans have been instrumental in influencing the standards for living and the distribution of resources, widening the racial and ethnic inequalities.
Social and Cultural Relationships: Social and Culture Capital
Social and cultural relationships play an instrumental role in influencing the path a society takes. Social capital is defined as the forms of economic and cultural aspects that shape a society’s network. For instance, economic attributes like money, property, and beliefs are essential in determining a society’s progress at a given time. Individuals’ social networks in their respective communities set the foundation for their progress (Payne, 2020). For that reason, social capital disparities have been a key contributing factor to racial and ethnic inequalities in America. The White privilege has an unfair advantage based on the control of social capital and the help of the decision-making process. The Whites have entrenched unfair distribution of economic opportunities, disadvantaging other minority races as the dominant race. Besides, the Whites enjoy a dominant social capital or network that has helped them hinder others socially. Notably, the strong, supportive social connections the Whites enjoy are important in helping them secure job opportunities and promotions that are beneficial to the dominant race at the expense of other minority ethnic communities (Dill & Zambrana, 2020). The weak and unsupportive social ties between African Americans have jeopardized their employment and advancement. Americans have a perception that being White is an advantage as they have cultivated a stable social and cultural capital that favors that dominant race. Other ethnic communities, on the other hand, find it hard to access the opportunities that can propel them to better performance levels.
Social and Economic Aspects: Social-Economic Dimension
The socioeconomic aspect plays an instrumental role in determining a society’s path in racial and ethnic inequalities. Ethnic races that are economically empowered tend to wield immense power over the economically weak races in society. In America, African Americans and Hispanics are less advantaged in socioeconomic aspects. With weak economic abilities, these minority races find it hard to compete with White Americans on fairground favorably. For instance, the weak economic abilities of African Americans make it hard for them to afford essential services (Artiga, Orgera, & Pham, 2020).
Additionally, access to healthcare services is highly dependent on the economic status of individuals. African Americans are twice as likely to miss access to healthcare services compared to their White American counterparts. Besides, White Americans are more likely to afford an education at the tertiary level because of the economic advantage they wield over other minority races. Access to loans from the country’s financial institutions also considers the economic state of an individual (Telles, 2018). The White has a higher rate of access to credit facilities in America compared to other minority races.
The inability of the minority races to access quality education and health services for lacking the requisite resources widens the racial and ethnic inequalities in American society. Notably, the socioeconomically weakened races find it hard to empower their children, passing the economic instability trait to the younger generations. On the other hand, the Whites find it easy to economically and socially empower their children by ensuring that they are well-educated and have access to quality health services. The discriminatory access to credit from financial institutions informed by the poor economic status of the minority races further widens the racial and ethnic inequality in the United States. The dimensions mentioned above of racial and ethnic disparities in the United States should be addressed from a policy perspective to help minimize the widening gap between the American races and set the foundation for a peaceful society.
Artiga, S., Orgera, K., & Pham, O. (2020). Disparities in health and health care: Five key questions and answers. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Dill, B. T., & Zambrana, R. E. (2020). Critical thinking about inequality: An emerging lens. In Feminist Theory Reader (pp. 108-116). Routledge.
Payne, W. (2020). Human Behavior and the Social Environment II.
Telles, E. (2018). Latinos, race, and the US Census. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 677(1), 153-164.
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