Racial inequality in the United States

With over one hundred ethnic groups represented

The United States of America is the world's most multi-ethnic society. African-Americans and Latinos make up 43 percent of the total population in the United States.

African-Americans and Latinos in the US criminal justice system

African-Americans account for 28% of all arrests in the United States each year, 40% of all inmates in American jails, and 42% of all death row inmates. Whites make up 67 percent of the US population. Whites account for only 40% of all arrests in the region each year and approximately 56% of death row inmates (Mauer and Ghandnoosh 4). The blacks, Hispanic-Americans and the Native Americans (of the Indian origin) are also among the African-Americans and Latin-Americans who are equally overrepresented in the US criminal justice system. This overrepresentation of the African-Americans and Latin-Americans in the US prisons is currently a big issue in the US society. The eminent biases in the representation of criminals in the US prisons show a dire weakness in the US justice systems. Mauer and Ghandnoosh refer to this as an injustice in the US justice system (5).

Discrimination in the US justice system based on race

Discrimination in the US justice system based on race has been the topic of discussion in several writings, research and human rights talks around the world. This research adds voice to the existing studies which have focused on the topic in the past. By focusing on various civil rights movements, among them BLM, the study presents an illustration on how the racial differences have played out in contributing to the massive inequality in the US justice system. Also, the current study addresses the current role that race has played in spurring the development of Civil Rights in the United States. It is evident that racial inequality is not only common in the Justice system of the US but also in several other sectors such as in employment, wealth distribution and politics. Consequently, this paper also analyzes other areas of the US society in which the rights of the racial minorities have been under constant threat from the historical moment to date.

The history of civil rights movements

The history of civil rights movements can be traced back to the historical times. Particularly, the modern civil right movements which have shaped the human rights situations in the current US society are associated with the Supreme Court ruling in the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Bush 6). The ruling helped to lay the foundation for development of the modern civil right movements. For instance, it outlawed racial segregations in the US public schools. Consequently, this ruling challenged the government of the US and the people to live up to the modern ideology of equality for all races and ethnicities represented in the country (Bush 6). Before the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of education of Topeka was made, various attempts had been made by the black-Americans in the US in an attempt to end racial discrimination in various sectors.

The civil rights 'March on Washington'

The civil rights 'March on Washington,' which happened on 28th August 1963, was one of the largest activism against the blacks prejudice in the US. Attended by more than 250, 000 people, the civil rights 'March on Washington' marked the climax in the development of civil rights in the US history (Jones 22). The main focus of the march was eminent and intense discrimination in the employment sector, civil rights abuses carried out by the whites against their black, Latinos and the disenfranchised people in the region. The organizers and participants of the march launched their support to Civil Rights Act that President J.F Kennedy's administration was trying to pass in the Congress. According to Nielsen, Robert, and Ryon (178), discrimination against the African-Americans and Latin-Americans in the US is evident in two perspectives: exploitation and job loss.

The integration of African-Americans and Latin-Americans into the US labor market

Before the 'March on Washington', the integration of African-Americans and Latin-Americans into the US labor market was a complex and challenging issue. Although much has changed over the past due to frequent lobbying by the civil rights groups, African-Americans and Latin-Americans still face difficulties being incorporated into the US workforce. Among those hired, firing them is quite easy (Nielsen, Robert and Ryon 181). The 'March on Washington' advocated for the abolition of mass segregation and discrimination in recruiting service people in the US military and the defense industry in general. The march put pressure on White House to streamline the workforce by allowing the African-Americans and Latin-Americans, especially the blacks to be hired in the workforce. The 'March on Washington,' however, bore fruits when President Roosevelt signed the executive order 8802: Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry in 1941. This was followed by another executive order on Desegregation of the Armed Forces signed by President Truman in 1948. The order ended discrimination in hiring of in the military and the defense industry in general (Nielsen, Robert and Ryon 188).

The 'Blacks Lives Matter' movement

The 'Blacks Lives Matter' is the latest civil rights movement in the US since the enactment of various civil rights in the US. The Blacks Lives Matter (BLM) is a social, civil rights movement which was founded in 2013 following the shooting of an Unarmed African-American, Trayvon Martin by a white man, Zimmerman George. Having been started as a hashtag, (#BlackLivesMatter) to protest the acquittal of Zimmerman in 2013, the hashtag grew in popularity in 2014 following two other high-profile killings of two unarmed blacks by the police in 2014 (Ghandnoosh 6). Since then, BLM movement has become one of the largest movements in the US and even around the world; the major concern being to advocate for the rights and equal treatment of the black people in the US and around the world. Today, the movement has also given voice to millions of African-Americans and Latin-Americans who face massive discrimination and unequal treatment in the United States justice system.

Racial disparities in the US justice system

The BLM movement is a reaction to the rampant police killing of the black people and other minority groups in the US. According to a study done by Quigley, about 84 percent of the police stops in New York in 2009 were of the African-Americans and the people of Latino origins (419). Comparatively, only 10 percent of the whites were stopped by the NYPD between 2005 and 2008. This is despite the whites making up 44% of the New York City population compared to 53% African-Americans living in the city. Also, the study revealed that on occasions where the whites were stopped, only about 8% of them were frisked compared to 85% of the African-Americans and Latinos who were stopped by the NYPD and frisked (Quigley 418).

Moreover, Coviello and Nicola (321) also studied the disparities the arrests made by the police across the USA on allegations of drugs use, peddling or handling. The study unveiled that African-Americans and Latinos are three times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts for the same drug-related crime. Also, once arrested, the blacks and Latino Americans were more likely to remain in custody awaiting their trials than the whites. Also, the blacks were more likely to face higher charges for the same crimes compared to the whites (Coviello, and Nicola 322). These studies highlight the disparities in the US justice system based on race and ethnicities of the victims. Although the civil rights movements such as BLM were developed for various reasons, the disparities in the fair administration of justice in the US, based on race and ethnicity, formed the basis of these movements.

Economic and social justice demands in civil rights movements

Throughout the US histories, the demands for the economic and social justice have dominated much of the debates featuring conspicuously in many of the grass-root mobilizations by civil rights movements. Various campaigns taking the economic dimensions have laid emphasis on equal treatment in places of works and gathering places such as movie theaters, lunch desks, amusement parks and hotels among others. The boycotts protested the discriminatory employment practices which were happening in the downtown business districts despite these regions being made up of significant ethnic mixtures (Williams and Catherine 352).

The struggle for responsible jobs

For instance, the blacks demanded more responsible jobs as their white counterparts in the downtown business districts since they made a significant number of consumers in these areas. In demand for responsible jobs in the stores, the Negroes formed an underground movement "Why Spend Dollars in Stores Where Black Negroes Are Not Hired in Any Responsible Jobs?" (Williams, and Catherine 353). The underground movement led to a boycott of the white shops which hired only whites throughout the South during 1963. Also, pickets wore sandwich boards with different writings cautioning the blacks not to buy from stores where they could not be hired even as salespeople. These boycotts changed and perceptions and policies on employment in the downtown business districts which started hiring the blacks after that.

Economic disparities based on race and ethnicity

Other than the employment sector, there are also significant economic disparities based on race and ethnicity in the United States to date. This is seen in the distribution of wealth, disparities in employment and wage remuneration between the whites and African-Americans and Latin-Americans. Consequently, concerns of poor remuneration for the blacks and Latin-Americans have been a cause for concern. Black workers have reportedly struggled against discriminative methodologies adopted by organizations to hire, fire, remunerate and promote their employees based on the ethnicities and race (Williams, and Catherine 355). Compared to the whites, the African-Americans and Latin-Americans find it hard to get a promotion to high paying positions such as management and supervisory jobs even when they qualify for them. A survey on all major branches of the industrial hiring in Alabama, (with one of the longest industrial histories) revealed that before the 1960s, not even a single case of a black employee was promoted or hired in the management positions (Williams, and Catherine 361).

Role of unions in advocating for equality

According to Williams and Catherine, the unions are developed to advocate for equality in the workplace and counter discrimination treatment of employees in the workplace (366). Some of the areas in which the workers' unions in the US have played a significant role concerning enhancing the civil rights of the ethnic minorities are in reducing the wage gap between the majority and the minority groups. Despite these attempts, some observers, such as Williams and Catherine, have argued that the unions haven't done much to help raise the civil conditions of the ethnic minority groups (366). In labor unions where the whites constitute the majority of the people in charge, the plights of the black-Americans and other ethnic minority groups have remained largely unaddressed by the labor unions.

Inequalities in the education sector

Also, the education sector is among the areas in which serious inequalities have existed for long. In the southern states, the blacks were denied formal education for fear of rebellion and wanting to go to towns to look for white-collar jobs. During the agricultural revolution in the US, both the northerners and southerners barred blacks from being educated outside their environments. For instance, in 1920-1930, the Rosenwald Fund wanted to improve the blacks' high schools in the US (Harper, Lori and Ontario 397). As a result, the fund sponsored a survey on the blacks' jobs available to develop a curriculum which suited their job description. In all places (North and South), the feedback illustrated that there was no black job which required high school education. As a result, the blacks' schools, for a long time, did not offer training in professional subjects such as accounting, printing, etc. These differences between the blacks and white high school curricula in the US were still glaring up to the 1960s with each curriculum being geared to the available jobs for each race (Harper, Lori and Ontario 392). The civil rights revolutions in the 1960s saw the blacks' enrollments in high school throughout the southern states increase from zero in 1960 to 256,000 in 1976 (Harper, Lori and Ontario 395). These campaigns have been maintained significantly in the intervening years leading to significant liberation of the education sectors of the north and southern states to incorporate the blacks.


To conclude, ethnic inequalities have been significantly common in the United States since the historical times. Particularly, the discrimination against African-Americans and Latin-Americans by their white counterparts in the region has been a recurrent issue to date. This study has highlighted that there have been significant disparities seen in different sectors of the US societies including the justice system, policing, the workplace, education sector, etc. The civil rights revolutions such as March on Washington, BLM, etc. have, however, achieved landmark improvements in alleviating the disparities in the region over time. While the majority of the whites have enjoyed tremendous privileges since the historical times, the African-Americans and Latin-Americans, who also constitute the minority groups, have been subjected to serious discrimination and biased treatments in almost all sectors of the US society. The discrimination treatments have persisted to date, although significant improvements have been realized in the past.

Works Cited

Soylu, Ali, and Tom Buchanan A. “Ethnic and Racial Discrimination against Immigrants.” Journal of Business and Economics, vol. 4, no. 9, 2013, pp. 848-858.

Bush, Rod. “The Civil Rights Movement and the Continuing Struggle for the Redemption of America.” Social Justice, vol. 30, no. 1, 2003, p. 42.

Coviello, Decio, and Nicola Persico. “An Economic Analysis of Black-White Disparities in the New York Police Department’s Stop-and-Frisk Program.” The Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 44, no. 2, 2015, pp. 315-360.

Harper, Shaun R., Lori D. Patton, and Ontario S. Wooden. “Access and Equity for African American Students in Higher Education: A Critical Race Historical Analysis of Policy Efforts.” The Journal of Higher Education, vol. 80, no. 4, 2009, pp. 389-414.

Jones, William P. The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the forgotten history of civil rights. WW Norton & Company, 2013.

Mauer, Marc, and Ghandnoosh, Nazgol. Incorporating Racial Equity into Criminal Justice Reform. The Sentencing Project, 2014.

Nazgol, Ghandnoosh. Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System. The Sentencing Project, 2015.

Nielsen, Laura Beth, Robert L. Nelson, and Ryon Lancaster. “Individual Justice or Collective Legal Mobilization? Employment Discrimination Litigation in the Post-Civil Rights United States.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, vol. 7, no. 2, 2010, pp. 175-201.

Quigley, William P. “Racism: The Crime in Criminal Justice.” Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law, vol. 13, 2012, p. 417.

Williams, Christine L., and Catherine Connell. “Looking Good and Sounding Right: Aesthetic Labor and Social Inequality in the Retail Industry.” Work and Occupations, vol. 37, no. 3, 2010, pp. 349-377.

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