Racial equality means different things to different people. Often people aren’t aware that unconsciously they have developed preconceived ideas about race and equality. Ethnic groups, who’ve not experience race as an issue, don’t feel it’s a problem that needs addressing. However, identifying some of the characteristics of bias behavior based on race or ethnicity is the first step in minimizing the problem.
What is racial equality?
When skin color, ethnicity, and religious beliefs have nothing to do with how someone is treated, these constitute attributes of racial equality. Racial equality is the ideology that most nations strive to embrace. Being equal embraces non-discriminatory inclusion in society. This means inclusion socially, educationally, economically, and politically.
The forms of race
The study of how race developed in United States has been studied extensively.
In the book Racial Formation in United States, Michael Omi and Howard Winant attempt to explain and look at specific models of race in America. These models are categorized into three theories, ethnicity, class and nation.
The ethnicity based theory explains that all races are immigrants, and in time will be accepted in society as equal citizens. The class based theory approaches race based on economics, the biological appearance of a person is unimportant, but the amount of wealth (i.e. money) amassed is. Finally, the nation based theory emphasizes cultural identification, to include discrimination based on specific nationalities.
These theories are valid analogies of how race is viewed in the United States. These paradigms of racial formation work in concert, and are not all-inclusive in its attempt to explain race relations in this country.
Targets of discrimination
When someone is targeted it’s not always because of how they look, but are discriminated because of what they believe. Many cultures today go to the same public schools, libraries, and restaurants. Therefore an attitude of respect must be adopted. People are different and differences are acceptable.
Unfortunately schools are familiar places where discrimination is practiced. But in this environment educators are in position to inform and educate children about being fair. There are structured activities designed to promote equal treatment.
This can be done through trust exercises, pairing children with different partners, and lessons on morality and fairness. Once children understand how their action make others feel they are less likely to act out in ways they know will hurt someone else.
Schools Adopting Equality Standards
While it is assumed that most schools in United States promote race equality, a formal plan of adopting certain standards should be written and promoted. A collaboration of staff and student representatives are best to develop and create a mission statement as it pertains to equality. Getting students involved will help them take ownership and is a great way to foster inclusion. These are standards embraced by students, teachers and the administrative staff.
Equality starts at home
Children often copy opinions and behaviors from parents, siblings and relatives. So adults must be aware of signals they are sending unconsciously. Even society through the news media often communicates negative stereotypes. Parents are tasked with explaining what their children are exposed to.
It would be great if play dates are extended purposely to children of other ethnic groups and religions. This sends a positive message of racial equality and it’s enforced by the parents initiation.
The Twenty-First Century
Although many inroads have been made in the United States toward equality in race relations, it still remains somewhat illusive. African Americans, especially males, remain one of the most discriminated groups in this country. It has been fifty years since the historic March on Washington headed by Martin Luther King Jr., and the problems he identified still exists.
In an New York Times article by Sam Roberts, laments that many Americans, black and white feel that the progress of race relations in American have not moved forward significantly.
While most black and whites treat one another decently, the largest disparity is seen in the criminal justice system. One out of four white agree that blacks are treated unfairly, and some of this inequity is also evident in the workplace.
However, overall most believe that progress has been made towards racial equality. This has extended not only to African Americans but to the growing Hispanic population as well. When accessing the reality of Dr. King’s dream of a color blind society, most believe that there is still a significant amount of work to do before it is achieved.
The role of faith-based organizations
Faith-based organizations are in a unique position to foster racial equality. Leading the way are non-denominational faith-based organizations who promote racial diversity in their congregations. When people from different communities, cultures, and ethnicities learn how to embrace historical differences it sets the tone to do so in other areas.
These are the same people who work in jobs at all levels. They are school principals and are our children’s teachers. Racial equality is not only a theory, it’s an action. It’s observable behavior. People and especially children tend to mirror what they see.
It’s important to speak out for racial equality. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union actively pursue the government to exercise its authority to the full extent of the law. It endeavors to stay informed of equal rights infringements so that they can intervene when possible.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP continues its advocacy on the behalf of all people of color. The Equal Rights Center of Washington, DC is dedicated to ensuring that people gain their rights in the areas of housing and employment.
As long as equality is not pushed under a rug as though it does not exist, then the efforts to distinguish inequality are not in vain.