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Racism and Anti-Semitism in the United States

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By DS31866
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The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in 1864, a move that was seen by many as an end to the discrimination and mistreatment of African Americans (Oakes, 2007). However, abolition of slavery gave way to virulent racism that worsened with time until the African American community decided to stage a series of protests in what came to be known as the civil rights movement. During this time, it is not only African- Americans who were victims of racism. Jewish-Americans also suffered their own form of discrimination that saw some of them getting killed. Several laws were enacted during the civil rights movement’s activities, most of which helped stem the tide of racism. Since the 1960s, the period during which the civil rights movement carried out its activities, tremendous progress has been achieved. The achievements can be misconstrued by some to mean absolute elimination of racism and anti-Semitism. But the reality of the matter is that racism and anti-Semitism are still part of the American society, and evidence from research will be discussed to support this claim.
The first evidence of the continuity of racism in America is the placement of a limit on the number of Asians who can be admitted to Ivy League colleges in the United States (Lubin, 2012). Racism is also shown to be part of the American society as shown by anti-black sentiments as well as anti-Hispanic sentiments in the United States as of 2012, more than four decades since the civil rights movement staged protests (Associated Press, 2012). Additionally, the Anti-Defamation League reports that hate crimes that are related to religion were predominantly directed to Jews who suffered 77% of these crimes (ADL, 2012), a scenario that serves as evidence of the continued presence of anti-Semitism in the United States.
Racism is manifested by the decision by some colleges and universities to limit the number of Asian students who can be offered admission. According to Gus Lubin (2012), there is worry that Asian students can end up being the majority in some of the Ivy League colleges. This fear has driven these schools to place quotas that have led to the exclusion of Asian students. Evidence to the fact that Asian students are being discriminated against is that even with an increase in the number of college-age Asian students in the United States, the number of such students being admitted to Ivy League colleges has remained unchanged despite the fact that most of these students perform well enough to qualify to enroll in these colleges. Whatever the reason that is being used to limit the number of Asian students, who join the Ivy League colleges, justification is not possible in a country where freedom of opportunity is supposed to be guaranteed. In other words, the administrators of these Ivy League schools are not supposed to look at the race of the students who apply apart from cases of affirmative action, which are often pegged on performance. All that is supposed to be looked at are the qualifications of the students. This is also a form of racism given that students of a given race are singled out and discriminated against. Therefore, racism still exists in the United States.
Also, more than four decades since the civil rights movement, some sections of the American society continue to hold anti-black sentiments. A poll conducted by the Associated Press found that 51% of Americans express sentiments that are unfavorable to African Americans. It is even more shocking that such attitudes increased from 41% in 2008 to 51% in 2012, four years after the first half-black man had been elected president of the United States (Associated Press, 2012). The same poll also found that 52% of whites without Hispanic origin expressed anti-Hispanic sentiment. The rise in resentment of blacks by whites can be attributed to the expectation by whites that blacks will be at the bottom of society only to find some of them rising, a feature that annoys the white establishment as it threatens their grip on power. The anti-immigrant rhetoric that has been directed against Hispanics who form the majority of the immigrants in general and illegal immigrants in particular is partly responsible for the anti-Hispanic sentiment. Regardless of the reasons behind these sentiments and attitudes, they point to hatred that is directed to people of certain races, in this case, African-Americans and Hispanics. With the activism against discrimination that has been going in the United States for more than a century, one would expect that such sad cases of racism and discrimination would be absent, but this is not the case. Therefore, racism is still a problem in the United States.
Anti-Semitism has also not disappeared completely from the American society with numerous crimes being directed at people and institutions associated with Jews. Jews experienced 77% of all the religious-related hate crimes (Anti-Defamation League, 2012). The Anti-Defamation League also notes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data shows that 67% of all hate crimes associated with religion were directed towards Jews. White supremacists are the ones who are mainly behind the anti-Semite crimes. From the 1950s and 1960s when anti-Semitism was prevalent, it appears that there are still lingering anti-Semitic feelings among some members of the US society. Some of the cases that have been reported to the Anti- Defamation League include the assault or harassment of Jewish students and the teachers. For example a Jewish student received threatening tweets from an unknown person who identified himself as Jew Killer while another student suffered choking from a bully who abused him both physically and verbally for being Jewish (Anti-Defamation League, 2012). It is therefore justifiable to state that anti-Semitism is a problem in the US even in modern days as shown by the suffering experienced by the Jewish victims identified in the above cases.
On the other hand, there is evidence that racism and anti-Semitism have been combated in an effective manner. The first evidence for this assertion is that the lynching and killing that used to be perpetrated against African Americans and other racial minorities are not occurring anymore. Also, there are several laws that have been enacted to safeguard against racism and discrimination such as the need for affirmative action and the prosecution of those who perpetrate hate crimes such as racism (Loevy, 1997). Anti-Semitism is also not a problem anymore given that there are groups that are helping in dealing with the problem whenever it arises. Such groups include the Anti-Defamation League, and their work involves the bringing to light anti-Semitic crimes that are then probed and action taken to avid their recurrence.
However, the above evidence is not sufficient to rule out the problematic nature of racism and anti-Semitism in the United States. In the case of racism, the absence of lynching and killing of African-Americans is not enough to claim that racism is no longer a problem. This is because of the aspect of covert racism or subtle racism that is perpetrated by people without being noticed easily. In most cases, this type of racism does not harm the victim physically but the psychological effect is inescapable. For example some white Americans can be heard associating food stamps with African-Americans as a way of pushing the agenda that African-Americans are lazy and reliant on government aid when the reality is that people from all races make use of food stamps at one point or another due to economic challenges (Burstein, 1985). Such people also forget that it is the discrimination that is prevalent in the American society that makes it difficult for African-Americans to get ahead that makes them dependent on government aid. Failure to understand these simple realities but instead pushing the idea that African-Americans are lazy is subtle racism. The Hispanics in America may also not be experiencing lynching or killing but they also suffer subtle racism in the form of being suspected to be illegal immigrants for the simple reason that most of the illegal immigrants in the US are Hispanics.
The fact that Jews of different ages including young children are still experiencing harassment at this time in the history of the United States, a time when the crimes against Jews in Germany during the Second World War are spoken against in strong terms points to a serious anti-Semite problem in the American society that is not going away. With the rightful demonization of the Holocaust, one would expect that anti-Semite crimes would be absent, but this is evidently not the case. Furthermore, the fact that such crimes exist is enough to show that there is indeed a problem which is not solved by the presence of advocacy groups. In other words, the presence of various groups to fight for the rights of Jews and defend them against harassment and other forms of anti-Semitism is not a sign of anti-Semitism not being a problem. Instead, it is explicit evidence that the United States has a serious anti-Semitism problem that has necessitated the creation of group that fight against this social evil.
In conclusion, the United States still has problems of racism and anti-Semitism. African- Americans are still being discriminated against in subtle ways as much as racially motivated physical violence has vanished. Hispanics are also being discriminated against for reasons ranging from immigration stereotypes to mere insecurity on part of the white establishment. Anti-Semitism is also widespread with a whopping 77% of religious-motivated hate crimes being directed at Jews. Asian-Americans are also part of the American society that has suffered the devastating effects of racism whereby limits have been placed on the numbers of Asian-American students who can be admitted to Ivy League schools. This is a barrier that does not affect other sections of the United States student population. With this evidence, it is difficult to dispute the reality that racism and anti-Semitism are still serious problems in the American society.


Anti-Defamation League (2012). ADL Notes Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes Remain Vast Majority of Religion-Based Crimes. October 24th, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2013 from
Associated Press (2012). Majority harbor prejudice against blacks. 27th October, 2012. Retrieved March 5th, 2013 from
Burstein, P. (1985). Discrimination, Jobs and Politics: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity in the United States since the New Deal, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Loevy, R. D. ed. (1997), The Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Passage of the Law That Ended Racial Segregation, Albany: State University of New York Press.
Lubin, G. (2012). It's Pretty Clear That The Ivy League Discriminates Against Asians. Business Insider, December 20, 2012.
Retrieved March 3, 2013 from
Oakes, J.(2007). The Radical and the Republican. New York: W.W. Norton.…...

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