Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Homeland: Race Relations

Almost two centuries after the nation’s founders wrote words promising equality for all men, the United States still had to address basic rights of minorities. Even with the Civil Rights Act, the clear disparity in how Race is addressed in the United States is one of the most dangerous long-term problems the country faces. Worse, the problem has grown in complexity, even as the initial issues are finally being settled.

Through advancements in the law, minorities enjoy the same rights as majority races, but that is not the same thing as equal conditions or opportunities. Unfortunately, this is not something which can be addressed with law, but which requires cultural adjustment.

During the first century of the United States, immigrants understood that to succeed they needed to assimilate. In the U.S., this should not mean losing the culture of their race, but it does mean accepting the American identity. Since the dominant culture has often expected participants to act in the fashion they found acceptable, there has been a clash about where the line is drawn; for many decades, immigrants were compelled to change their appearance and dress to conform to expectations, but now there has been a backlash, where minorities who attempt to succeed through excelling at the practices of the dominant culture are attacked and insulted for their success, as sell-outs. The determination of where to draw the line should depend on the individual’s decision and commitment, but there is a lot of work to do on that count.

Worse is the now-chronic problem of gangs. There is, simply put, no longer any race, neighborhood, or region of the country which is immune to gangs, and racist gangs are increasing in size, number, and violence. Predatory recruiting practices make families everywhere concerned, and the knowledge that a child may be attacked simply for their skin color, makes it that much harder to establish cooperation and trust between races. And that affects the nation's future at its core.

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