Diversity and discrimination in America
This sample essay will discuss how some forms of racial domination continue to plague America. While the United States has made tremendous strides in its quest for racial equality and harmony since the 1950s’ and 1960s’ civil rights movements, discrimination and intolerance continues to pollute our former progress. Caucasians continue to exert their dominance over minorities such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. In turn, minorities have become suspicious of the influx of immigrants who arrive to the United States with dreams of gainful employment and a shot at the American Dream.
At one time, our government speculated that affirmative action would allow underprivileged minorities to succeed in the workplace; however, there continues to be a noticeable gap in a minority’s income and access to well-paying jobs. A portion of American society agrees that our government should enforce policies that ensure minorities have equal access to jobs. On the other hand, critics suggest that enforcement creates dissention in the workplace. Critics and advocates aside, affirmative action tries to integrate a minority into the majorities’ world, and in turn creates one of our biggest obstacles. Instead of realizing our differences, we can consider a new occupational policy that welcomes employees’ unique perspectives and diversities as integral parts of an organization independent of race.
Discrimination take affirmative action
Our internal beliefs are one of our biggest obstacles to overcome, and in order to overcome our hindrances, one must understand the background of racial tension and discrimination. Sociology considers a variety of theories that may explain our inherent racist tendencies to discriminate against others who we view as different. However, we can take elements of sociological theories in order to understand that we can all exist as a diverse, yet stable, community who is neither superior nor inferior but stronger because of our differences.
While we cannot define ourselves by our race, multiple ethnic backgrounds will allow new perspectives in the workplace. Symbolic interactionists assert that we define ourselves by our racial differences, so discrimination will continue to exist as long as we focus on our dissimilarities. Instead, we can utilize the term diversity over differences. For example, diversity management maintains effective business plans require multiple backgrounds and training. Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Embirbayer explain in their chapter “Toward Racial Justice” that “
Diversity management is a fairly new concept, one with roots in affirmative action legislation” (521).
However, affirmative action suggests minorities are the only ones who will benefit. In addition, it implies that the government bases competence on color.
Because there is a question of a minority having the qualifications he or she needs to produce, the majority proposed that affirmative action is unfair. Therefore, diversity management advocates individual strengths in background because it allows for a stronger foundation. With new perspectives, a diverse group of employers and employees can build upon each other’s strengths and develop concepts that evolved from their prospective backgrounds.
However, in order for diversity management to succeed, natural born American citizens will have to include immigrants in their successful business equation. Richard Alba suggests that Americans will benefit from
“Assimilation in its ultimate sense [because it] depends on the ability to integrate into mainstream social settings-to mix with whites and others of the same socioeconomic strata and to provide a favorable starting position for one’s children” (197).
In essence, older generations will eventually retire and leave America’s future up to younger generations, and it is an endless cycle. Because America has a surge of new immigrants, it is reasonable to assume we have to embrace diversity within our own country in order to properly teach it to our youth. Eventually, diversity management will no longer be a novelty but a conventional reality that accepts immigrants, minorities, and majorities as equal and indispensable to our future prospects.
Diversity management in the workplace
Diversity management may promote solidarity and equality in the workplace. In their study “The Relationship between Diversity Climate Perceptions and Workplace Attitudes,” Natalie Wolfson, Kurt Kraiger, and Lisa Finkelstein suggest workplaces benefit from assorted backgrounds, and they hypothesize that
“Diversity climate perceptions will be positively related to individual organizational commitment, empowerment, and individual job satisfaction” (164).
Climate perception implies the work climate. Much like our weather has the ability to change our moods, the climate in workplace may affect our ability to produce.
In their study, Wolfson, Kraiger, and Finkelstein considered a variety of business settings to mimic the world’s diversity. The researchers sent 1090 paper-and-pencil surveys to five organizations that included “a ﬁnancial services ﬁrm (n = 131), a nonproﬁt women’s shelter (n = 34), a telecommunications company (n = 157), a manufacturing company (n = 650), and a brewery (n = 152)” and asked participants to rate their overall loyalty, commitment, and job satisfaction (165-7). The researchers found that “positive perceptions of diversity climate, as indicated by identity freedom, climate inclusiveness, and equal access, are strongly associated with job satisfaction” (171). In other words, those who felt as though they were accepted regardless of their identity, or cultural background, were more inclined to have a positive work experience. After all, many employers maintain that happy employees are productive employees.
A successful workplace relies on synergy, and structural functionalists suggest society relies on diversity to survive much like the human body needs a variety of organs to endure. While the theorists assert structural functionalism keeps a society stable, it depends on our history. Because American history has many instances of racial discrimination and segregation, structural functionalists maintain racial groups such as Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians became stronger within their own communities, but they only stable as a whole and disregard outside races while in the workplace. Nevertheless, our productivity increases with numbers, so perhaps a good strategy to overcome our racial obstacles in the workplace is to develop our racial intelligence.
A deeper discussion of race and discrimination
Racial domination implies ignorance, but racial intelligence suggests reason. Desmond and Embirbayer emphasize that
“Logic, rational decision making, and good sense-the execution of a racial intelligence-can shine a bright and revealing light on the obfuscation linked to racial domination” (506).
As America continues to grow, our variety of cultural backgrounds will increase. If Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and more believe they must enforce their dominance, eventually, each group will collectively view immigrants as the new source of racial inferiority. It seems that racial superiority will continue to be an elusive, irrelevant, and never-ending battle. Instead, we can understand that multiple backgrounds are necessary to our efficiency. Personally and logically, we all wish for our family’s sustainability, so once we understand everyone’s primary motive is to survive, perhaps we will be more inclined to identify with others in spite of the differences in our skin colors.
In the long run, racial intelligence allows us to realize that we have the power to change our racial disharmonies. Desmond and Emirbayer argue that
“A revitalized Civil Rights Movement-uncompromisingly egalitarian, intersectional, and multicultural-is needed” (513).
Because Americans pride themselves on democracy, a new Civil Rights Movement is possible. While conflict theorists maintain that the majority feels as though they have advantages over the minority, some may believe that race will continue to be an element of conflict. However, we have made great advances in our past as we effectively eliminated segregation and slavery. Essentially, we have the power to change, but we must have the willingness to do so.
Separate groups may have solidified their unity amongst their own races as a matter of habit, so they continue to disregard or stereotype others. After all, problems and conflicts often are the result of misunderstandings or the unwillingness to understand. At the same time, misunderstandings may often be the result of multiple perspectives. If we accept others have different viewpoints and other opinions, we may reveal new knowledge and intersect it with our own. Because once we refuse to accept new theories or ideas, we become an unproductive society. Diversity management is the next step after affirmative action because it will teach us to discontinue the psychological need to ignore the potential of others.
Essentially, in our current society, we cannot hold ourselves to preconceived notions and popular theories regarding racial tension. Ultimately, it is up to all individuals to become racially intelligent beings and welcome diversity management in the workplace and ultimately embrace our differences. Affirmative action was successful at one point; however, it too must evolve. Diversity management suggests we utilize our assets that extend from our backgrounds. In essence, we can close the gap that separates race and opportunity. There is not a perfect strategy to overcome our obstacles, but our history suggests that we are able to promote and obtain measures of equality. In essence, it does not matter what race we are in our workplaces. We use our work to provide clothing, food, and shelter for our families, so our common bond amongst each other is the need to sustain our families’ futures.
Alba, Richard D. “The Contingencies of Change.” Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2009. 166-211. Print.
Desmond, Matthew, and Mustafa Emirbayer. “Toward Racial Justice.” Racial Domination, Racial Progress: The Sociology of Race in America. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010. 501-41. Print.
Wolfson, Natalie, Kurt Kraiger, and Lisa Finkelstein. “The Relationship between Diversity Climate Perceptions and Workplace Attitudes.” The Psychologist-Manager Journal 14.3 (2011): 161-76. Print.