Racism is the belief that the human race has different and distinctive characteristics. These characteristics determine individual cultures and the notion that a race is greater to others and has the right to control others. This means that racism involves acts of discrimination. Discrimination gives rise to intolerance basing on the skin colour. Discrimination may be due to the race, sexuality, religion, or gender. There are different psychological and sociological views that try to elaborate on the existence of intolerance despite its existence since the beginning of humankind.
The common long-standing explanation for the existence of racism is that blacks and other races are biologically inferior to the whites. Many people believe that naturally, blacks are less intelligent than whites. They also believe that they have other constraints that prevent them from obtaining better education and developing their countries. On the other hand, the whites use this theory to justify the presence of slavery and harsh treatments. A controversial issue arose in 1994, when Herrnstein and Murray in their book, the Bell curve, came up with a different explanation. To them, the low IQ in Africans and the poor reflect their genetic inferiority in terms of their intelligence accounting for their poverty and problems (Herrnstein, & Murray, 1994).
Another explanation for the presence of racial discrimination is cultural deficiency. According to Murray (1984), Africans do not value hard work and lack strong family ties. This factors account to poverty and other problems facing these minorities. Another argument is that more than half of the whites feel that blacks are in poverty due to lack of motivation and will power. It is ironical that there is some truth in this as many Asian Americans have their success attributed to a lot of emphasis from their culture on aspects of hard work, education attainment, and strong family ties (Min, 2005). Therefore, they believe that the failure of other races is due to the inability of their culture to value these attributes.
Another factor that contributes to the continued racial segregation is the presence of ethnic and racial inequalities still practiced. The presence of institutional and individual discrimination with the lack of provision of equal opportunities in education and other spheres of life is also a contributing factor to racism. Segregated housing prevents African Americans from running away to the internal city and from moving to regions with vast employment opportunities. A line draws the line of employment keeping the salaries of the blacks much lower than what they are supposed to be. The schools attended by the blacks are overcrowded and underfunded making the learning conditions unfavorable. These problems continue passing down from one generation to another making it a difficult for those at the bottom to rise the socioeconomic ladder due to their race and ethnicity.
There are different sociology perspectives that define the continuity in the existence of racism. These are; the Functionalist Perspective, The Conflict Perspective, and the Symbolic Interactionist Perspective. These perspectives offer a theoretical explanation on how the society influences people in relation to the social factors that have effect on human behavior. Despite the presence of numerous theories and ideas, each has its own impact and contribution making a distinct focus on the matter.
The functionalist perspective explains the structure of the society that maintains its stability. In a society, there are dysfunctions that disrupt the social system decreasing its stability. In a society practicing discrimination, we do not use individual resources. Discrimination interrupts the search for talent and leadership. There is no social change as it may assist the subordinate group. Discrimination also limits peaceful resolution of conflicts, goodwill and friendly diplomatic relations between nations.
The conflict perspective states that one can understand the social structure well in terms of conflicts and tension between competing groups. Every society comprises of two groups the dominant group and the subordinate group. The conflict perspective is more radical, and as it mainly emphasizes on social change and the redistribution of resources. The social classes refer to the categories of people who have the same access to resources and opportunities. There are also life chances that deal with the likelihood of realizing certain standards of living in terms of personal health and well-being.
The symbolic Interactionist perspective studies reality as a socially created and negotiated process. Labeling theory explains why some people are deviant while others are not yet they engage in the same behavior. An individual can commit a deviant behavior and escapes labeling, while another is falsely accused of presumed wrongdoing. The labeling perspective relates to negative stereotypes in race and ethnicity. Stereotypes involve generalizations made on individuals without considering personal differences. When people in power apply stereotypes, they may cause negative consequences on those identified (Van Den Berghe, 1981). Defining a situation moulds the personality of an individual. People not only respond to the objective feature of a situation but look into the meaning the feature has.
In conclusion, we can state that experience including cultural experience is the source of all ideas. The presence of ideological ideas on kinship, descent and living standards, is the source of colonialism, slavery, and human exploitation. Without the presence of such ideas, the society would not have the concept of racism and ethnicity. Human beings share concepts of the mind and some bring about issues of racism.