Most Americans agree that the country has made undeniable progress in race relations since the civil rights era. Yet, some of the same people will agree that racial inequality issues persist. The gulf separating white and black Americans remains vast in many areas affecting daily life.
To understand why this race gap stubbornly exists, you should understand the causes and impacts of past segregation. From there, we can develop concrete solutions that shrink the racial divide. Equity in areas such as housing mobility and healthcare services can help to fully level the playing field.
A New Century with Old Difficulties
Despite electing the first black president for two terms, the 21st century has its share of difficulties for black America. We have seen progress on some fronts such as declining teen pregnancy and better high school and college graduation rates. However, the average black American today remains far behind their white counterpart as they were in 2000.
Areas where these inequalities exist include:
- Risk of incarceration
Small percentages of success do not make up for a majority of a population that still face difficulties with everyday life. This reality shows that progress has been halting if the goal is to have broader equity for black Americans.
Invisible Barriers with Real-Life Consequences
Unlike the Jim Crow South, many barriers facing black people today are because of invisible, unconscious bias. Whether it is the water crisis in Flint, Michigan or the quality of inner city public schools, or inferior health care delivered to black patients nationwide, the experience for African-Americans in this country is different. Unfortunately, it is allowed to be different more than it would ever be accepted for white Americans.
In truth, racial inequality and injustice is also a problem for moderate-income black people. Even if it is unintentional, racism continues to determine where and how well black people live. If this continues, racial inequality cannot be overcome.
The Color Line Continues to Divide
One of the most visible pieces of evidence that the color line still exists is the persistent attack on affirmative action policies in employment and higher education. Many Americans believe that the relics of discrimination have disappeared. Therefore, they also believe that affirmative action gives minorities an unfair advantage.
For others who experience ongoing discrimination in daily life, affirmative action is still needed. Otherwise, opportunities extended under this policy is likely to evaporate and simply widen the racial divide.
The answer for everybody is fully acknowledging inequality and having the courage to act on making positive changes.