Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

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  • Effects of Racial Discrimination On Society

Effects of Racial Discrimination On Society

The report aims to explore the different views held on the effects of racial discrimination on the society. This report will provide the issue and background to the debate, social significance, and participants involved in the issue, and the differing opinions on the topic researched.
2.0 The issue and background to the debate
‘A practice of denying people access to rights has begun in the year of 1400s’ (Do Something, n.d.). Racial discrimination is defined as criticising someone belonging to a varying ethnic or race. This is being done based on a thought of one being ‘superior’ to another (Oxford University Press, n.d.). Based on Your Rights (2008), there are several forms of discriminations such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The characteristics specific to that race, for instance, skin colour, facial features etc has become the tools for discrimination. According to Racial Slur Database (1999), growing racial slurs has been mentioned to be the root cause for the rise of this issue.

3.0 Social significance of the debate
The debate started when high poverty stroke the minorities of a country which led to ‘larger educational attainment gap and higher immigration rates’ mainly because of varying family characteristics of that particular race (Gradin, 2012). Moreover, Shah (2010), has described the phenomenon that occurs in World Wide Web which acts as a ‘breeding ground’ for free speech. Tremendous increase of hate sites in the past few years has resulted in creating racial partiality in the society (Shah, 2012). As the concerns towards racial discrimination is growing out of proportion, it develops an awareness on the advantages and disadvantages of racism in society, says Hutcheon (2009). Besides that, it encourages authorities to take preventive measures against racial discrimination for a better living in the future (Positive Action in Housing, n.d.).
4.0 Participants in the debate
The main participants in the debate are part of community and experts who have expressed different views regarding how racial discrimination positively or negatively impacts the society (Wits, 2013; Pettinger, n.d.; Williams, n.d.).

5.0 The differing opinions
5.1 Racial discrimination impose positive impacts in society
The victims of discrimination support that racial discrimination positively impacts the society as it develops aspects of motivation and responsibilities and also the right to fight against racism and promote equal rights for all races of a country.
5.1.1 Develop aspects of motivation and responsibilities
The supporters of this argument claim that discrimination motivates them and create responsibilities. Racial discrimination, a powerful weapon encourages the ones who are being discriminated to work harder in their related fields to enhance their self image and out do their opponents. This would clearly prove to the discriminators that quality and talent of a person is not derived from their race but only from their hard work. Furthermore, racial discrimination forces the victims to carry responsibilities for the benefits of the upcoming generations. Seniors of a community who have experienced discrimination guide the juniors of the same community on how to handle racism and how to overcome the conflicts rose from this issue (Wits, 2013).

5.1.2 To fight against racism and promote equal rights
Pettinger (n.d.) described that raising voice against racism would bring changes by implementing anti-racism thoughts in society. Ending racial discrimination and promoting equal rights for all races in the society would enable mixed races living community to live in peace, harmony and unity. As Pettinger (n.d.) suggests,
Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968). Non-violent civil rights leader. Inspired American civil rights movement to achieve greater equality. Helped to organise the 1963 March on Washington, where he gave famous ‘I have a dream’ speech. "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
In addition, supporters of this argument also asserted the right to fight for equal rights in education and socioeconomic aspects to gain equal opportunities in all fields. This would increase the chances available for the discriminated races to participate in available job opportunities, educational related offers etc. which directly links to a reduction in poverty rates among minorities (Pettinger, n.d.).

5.2 Racial discrimination disfavour the society
However, there are also of those who are of an opposing view that racial discrimination disfavours the society by imposing negative impacts by affecting victim’s health and creating inferiority complex between different races of a community.
5.2.1 Affects victims’ health status
Racial gap is clearly stated to be the factor of high disease rates among the minorities which led to multiple deaths in recent years. Racial discrimination stacks up the burdens of non-dominant population of a country by creating ‘stigma of inferiority which affects health by restricting socioeconomic opportunities and mobility’. To illustrate this scenario, minority residences of an housing area are segregated from being provided emergency medical preferences due to racial bias which brings forth poor consequences on mental and physical health. According to the statistics taken from Nation Centre for Health Statistics, the mortality ratio for black and whites of the United States of America for the years of 1950 and 1995 has increased from 1.55 to 1.58. ‘Socioeconomic status predicts variations in health within minority and white populations and accounts for much of the racial differences in health’ (Wlliams, n.d.).

5.2.2 Creates inferiority complex
Inferiority complex is an ‘unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority in one sphere, sometimes marked by aggressive behaviour in compensation’ ( Oxford University Press, n.d.). Feelings of insecurity as well as inferiority strike the part of the society being discriminated in front of the racists. Therefore, this induce the victims to have lack of confidence to participate in general discussions to give their point of views thus resulting in unequal opportunities. Clearly this would indirectly become a factor to the increase of unemployment rate and poverty among the minority populations. According to a study taken from the Unites States Bureau of the Census, it is shown that the median income earned by professional degree holders aged 18 years and older in the United States in the year of 1996 carried a figure of $56,436 for the whites whereas $42,237 for the blacks. This national data reveals that even at the highest educational attainment, African Americans have lower level of income than the whites. Furthermore, the building up of inferiority complex results in conflicts where it develops hate among different racial circles which limits the sharing of ideas between colleagues of different races. As an outcome, rewarding relationships between varying ethnics of a society loses the state of being whole and undivided(Wits, 2013).

6,0 Conclusion
From the discussion above, it is crystal clear that there are different opinions held on the issue of whether racial discrimination affects the society positively and negatively. The positive impacts of racism are that it develops aspects of motivation and responsibilities including the urge to fight against racism to promote equal rights. Although this might be the case, there are several drawbacks where racial discrimination can also affect victims’ health condition and bring up inferiority complex. Therefore, more researches and analysis need to done on the arguments of both parties to decide on the side that has a greater impact on racial discrimination, be it positive or negative

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Racism in Canada

Change and Continuity

Vic Satzewich   Human Rights   January 2, 2004

A Thought Experiment

Historians like to engage in thought experiments with dates. One way to measure the change in racism in Canada over the past forty years is to put the question in the context of the previous forty-year period. If one was asked the same question in 1963, Canada would probably not have looked all that different from the Canada of 1923. In 1963, as in 1923, Canada was still a country in which nearly all citizens (with the exception of Aboriginal people) could either directly or indirectly trace their ancestry to Europe. Within government policy and many organizations, non-white immigrants and Aboriginal peoples were still regarded as groups who posed “racial” problems for the processes of nation building and state formation.

I doubt whether we can say that there is a similar continuity to the 1963-2003 comparison. Canada today is considerably different from the Canada that existed four decades ago. Four significant changes have occurred.

Racism: What Has Changed

First, Canadian institutions and organizations are now less likely to engage in overt discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnicity.

Decision makers and power holders within organizations still discriminate and treat individuals unequally. Further, organizations may still engage in systemic discrimination, as the debate about racial profiling within police forces suggests. However, there are few cases where discrimination and unequal treatment is formally endorsed in the laws of the land. Part of the change in overt discrimination can be traced to the introduction of legal prohibitions against discrimination and unequal treatment. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, human-rights legislation and hate laws form a significant part of the changed context. None of these measures are perfect, and all could be improved. However, this new legal context makes it more difficult for individuals and organizations to get away with racist practices and other kinds of unequal treatment.

Second, there have been changes in racism in the area of immigration policy and practices. As we know, racism played an important role in the regulation of the flow of workers and potential future citizens. However, there is no longer a legislated preference for white, European immigrants, and the more blatantly racist aspects of the immigration-policy field have been trashed. There are still racist remnants to immigration policy and practices, and certain policies impact immigrants and potential immigrants in different ways, but they are a far cry from the early 1960s, when race, colour, nationality and a variety of euphemisms for “race” played a determining role in who got in. Arguably, class background has trumped “race” when it come to assessing the suitability of potential immigrants.

Third, the symbolic order of race and ethnicity is changing. The stamp of the historically dominant ethnic elites is still evident in many of the ways Canadian society is organized, and there is still a way to go before people of diverse backgrounds can fully recognize themselves in the symbolic, organizational and power structures of the country. However, the ink on that stamp is fading, and social institutions are changing in ways that acknowledge that Canada is no longer made up mainly of “white” Europeans.

Fourth, there is no longer a clear-cut pattern of disadvantage that is rooted solely in racial discrimination. There are complex ways in which region of residence, gender, nativity, skin colour, educational attainment, class background and sector of industrial employment, among other variables, play roles in shaping patterns of social inequality. John Porter’s early 1960s version of the vertical mosaic suggested that, if you knew a person’s ethnic or racial background and gender, you could come up with a reasonably accurate short list of things that person did for a living. Drawing up a similar short list today would be difficult.

Racism: What Has Not Changed

What has not changed? Some individuals still think racist thoughts, say racist things, treat people badly and deny jobs, promotions, housing and other resources to people because of the colour of their skin. In other words, there are still many ways in which opportunities, status and identities in Canada are degraded because of racism. There will never be a point where racial degradations do not happen. But it has become more difficult for individuals and organizations to say and do racist things without social opprobrium. The current generation’s public contestation of “race” and racism, and more public forms of resistance to racism, will ensure that the next forty years will be saturated with “race.”

Vic Satzewich is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at McMaster University. He does research and writes on a variety of topics relating to immigration and race and ethnic relations in Canada. His most recent book is The Ukrainian Diaspora (London, Routledge, 2002).


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