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Are Stereotypes Who We Are?: Racial Stereotypes Still Impact Life In The United States

Before I came to the United States I never knew what racism, discrimination, or

segregation meant. Maybe because I grew up in Africa Congo where everyone was the same

race; We came from different origins or tribes but we all looked the same. Maybe racism and

discrimination were apart of the society I grew up in but never knew about it because my parents

did a great job of hiding it from me, or maybe I was ignorant or too little to understand. When I

came to the United States, I learned what those words meant and saw how it affected our world.

When I discovered this, it was a culture shock for me because I could not understand why

something small such as skin color was the source of hatred and separation in the world and

mainly in the United States. In this generation, we’re guessing each other's names instead of

asking them; We do not ask because we have already assigned a name for them. We group each

other in these bubble which are impossible to break free from; until suddenly, everyone with a

hijab on is a raghead, everyone with white skin is racist, everyone with black skin is a fatherless

nigger, everyone who is Hispanic is a drug dealer, or everyone who is Muslim is a terrorist that

will blow up an airplane. No matter how hard we try to show our true self, the world does not see

it because the society has already painted our story. While some may argue that the United

States claims equality, racial stereotypes still impact how people live their life today, mainly

because of the immigration laws, inequality in the social systems and the media influence.

First of all, racism is still evident in our immigration laws affect how people live their

lives in the United States is because the laws in the United States are more racially based. The

United States is known as the land of the free and opportunity, a nation of which everyone has a

dream and a future. However this isn’t true for everyone, all these opportunities can disappear if

you have the wrong skin color, the wrong religion or the wrong immigrant background. “Yet

immigration enforcement has disproportionately targeted Mexicans and Central Americans. The

racial bias can be found at both the federal and local levels,” (Institutional Racism 1). Society has

grouped immigrants based on what country they came from or their race. “Iver Alejandro

Guzman is currently a senior at LARS. He came from Mexico at only six years of age. Guzman

had a different experience when it came to stereotypes. ‘Sometimes, and more recently, when I

turned fifteen, people would not let me into places like Buffalo Wild Wings, Tilly’s and King

Taco because they thought I didn’t have money.’ (Cervantes 1). Guzman and his friend Merrett

are both immigrants but because the world sees Guzman to have the wrong skin color, their

experience are so different. The Federal Immigration Agency stopped characterizing the United

States as “a nation of immigrants” (Jordan 1), a sign of negative attitudes toward immigrants in


The United States’ immigration laws unfairly divide immigrant families and impact their

future. Immigrants who migrate into the United States are longing for a better future. Immigrants

have fought their way to the United States for economic, education opportunities, political and

religious freedom. Historically, the United States immigration laws have been racist. Most anti-

immigration campaigns led in the United States were because of the desire to separate people by

race, sometimes by religion, and these campaigns were supported by the United States

government. For example, the Chinese Exclusion Law, signed in 1882, stopped Chinese

immigration for ten years and prohibited any Chinese from becoming citizens. (Institutional

Racism 2). From 1790 to 1952 the legislated government restricted naturalization for all

immigrants except for whites from Northern Europe. No matter how hard you wanted if you

were an immigrant and a person of color you could not become an American citizens, even if

you worked hard enough. African Americans were the first immigrants racial group to be

restricted. A historical example is The Anarchist Exclusion Act was passed in March 3, 1903

which “prohibited the entry of people judged to be anarchists and political extremists. This was

the first of the U.S. Immigration Laws passed in the 1900s.” (Alchin 1). If you were eligible for

citizenship, a judge could deny it. This happened to people of color mainly. Throughout history,

primarily the white immigrants were allowed to become citizens and this still occurs today.

Current immigration laws in the United States are racist, and more racist laws are being

passed. For example, the Trump travel ban, passed just after his election, “keeps refugees from

entering the country for 120 days and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations out

for three months. The countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia”

( Criss 1). This travel ban was passed by Congress with no warning to those families.

Furthermore at beginning of his term Trump took away DACA ( Deferred Action for Childhood

Arrivals) which “protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US

as children from deportation” (Kopan 1). These undocumented immigrants are part of the

working class in the United States, and they are taxpayers. Trump gave Congress six months to

try and save the DACA program but afters six months DACA is officially over. According to

CNN “ sadly, it has become increasingly clear that the President's words were nothing but lip

service. President Trump and the White House are not interested in solving this problem—they

have so far tried to use Dreamers as bargaining chips to push forward their anti-immigrant

agenda” ( Schumer 1). President Trump had no intention of saving DACA because he saw

immigrant children as being unfit to become American citizens. “President Donald Trump is

proposing giving 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship in

exchange for $25 billion for his long promised wall and host of other strict immigrants” (Kepan

2). These young undocumented immigrants are students trying to get an education to better their

future, Trump’s bargaining is anti-immigrant, saying “ I’ll let 1.8 million immigrants become

citizens; But Congress must promise I get my money to build the wall and stop more from

coming in.”

The United States government closing legal ways for immigrants to enter the country

affects their future. “The White House is also looking to close “legal loopholes” that will allow

them to deport more immigrants from countries that don’t border the United States, which would

likely change immigration” (Kepan 1). Immigration laws in the United States will likely become

stricter in the future, making it harder for immigrants to enter the United States, but why? The

United States government closing these legal loopholes well greatly impact the future of

immigrants in the United States because most immigrants who come to the United States have a

dream of a better future, a future with equal right, with freedom of speech and religion, with

great education opportunity. The United States government closing these loopholes will destroy

their dreams.

Throughout history the United States society has been divided by color. The United

States the government approved the segregation of blacks and whites, and sanctioned

discrimination. In 1890, the United States government passed the separate but equal doctrine,

which was just after the reconstruction era. The doctrine states that African Americans and

White Americans could be separated if they had equal opportunities and equal public facilities.

But throughout history, it was found that African Americans and Whites were never equal, the

separate but equal doctrine was not being followed and the government was all right with it.

African Americans have different access to education, Blacks were unable to attend the same

college as white after the Brown vs. The Board of education's the United States government

started integrating schools but enforcing the laws was hard. Whites schools started up raising

their standards of entry, this lead to the creation HBCU (Historically Black Colleges or

Universities). Social inequality is still happening today. For example, “studies have shown that

college and university professors are more likely to ignore emails from women and people of

color than they are to ignore those from white men, which privileges the educational outcomes of

white men by channeling a biased amount of mentoring and educational resources to them.” (

Crossman 1) . Social Inequality exist because are society is organized by hierarchies of class,

race, and gender that break down access to resources in ways that make the distribution unequal.

One must also consider different treatment people face by the police and judicial system, which

benefits white people by conferning on them white privilege. For example the Trayvon Martin

death, Trayvon was 17 year old and he was shot because the officer felt threatened with no

evidence at all, the cour rule the case as self defense and the officer was freed. If we look at this

case an a realistic way if Trayvon was a white boy he would have still been alive today.

The inequality in the social system impacts the lives of many Americans including

women. Women were the last group to gain the right to vote in the United States, African

American women were the very last group. During WW1, women worked in factories because

there were not enough men to work in the factories. But after the war, women were treated as

less important, rarely seen as more than housekeepers or baby makers. “Women continue

climbing the rugs of power, building their rants as heads of the states, corporate leaders and

media influence but their minority status means they still face harsh, limiting assessments based

on their gender” (Goudreau 1). Women are essential to this world, there are more women

becoming leaders in the United States and across the world, but they are still not fully accepted

by society. “I’ve been in this field of journalism for more than 30 years,” said Cuanchor to today

Ann Curry, and I’ve heard a lot of stereotypes. (Goudreau 2). In many fields of work, women are

seen as weak and emotional, even if they are more effective.

As shown in the graph above, women make about five percent less than men in income.

Women in the same position or higher but their salary is always different compared to men's.

“When high powered women were asked to single out the stereotypes they most disliked, the

following came up: weak, emotional, and angry” (Bettridge 1). Women in the world are never

seen for their work, but they are seen for their gender.

Finally, the media is a place where inequality and stereotypes still impact women and

minorities(or immigrants) unfairly. Throughout history, the media has portrayed African

Americans, as uneducated citizens. African American are often portrayed as uncivilised and

radical. In 1848 United States television introduced the nation to the black face TV segment, a

show in which black characters were played by whites.“Minstrelsy, comedic performances of


“blackness” by whites in exaggerated costumes and make-up, cannot be separated fully from the

racial derision and stereotyping at its core. By distorting the features and culture of African

Americans—including their looks, language, dance, deportment, and character—white

Americans were able to codify whiteness across class and geopolitical lines as its antithesis.”

(Blackface 1). Blackface was used to mock African American culture, to create a stereotype of

African Americans that has been difficult to diamante be around forever; and has caused African

Americans to be seen as less than human or citizens.

The media plays a big role in how stereotypes and racism are embedded in society.

“There is nothing more threatening for racism and justice today then ignoring the history in

which it has been built.” (otero 1). Now racism is more open than ever, and it mostly posted in

social media. “Social media promotes a kind of individualism whose outcome has a direct impact

on how racism and hate speech is articulated online, it also affecting how we understand hate

speech” (otero 2). Social media has been used for many positive acts but it also gives us a voice

to hurt others. The media has impacted our world so much when it comes to viewing racial

stereotyping. The media has in influence when it come to stereotyping. “Black Americans see

more racism in the media than whites” (Rivero 1). African-Americans are used to stereotyping

and are able to see it more clearly than white. “Researchers studied how viewer were affected by

nonverbal behavior on popular television shows, characters on these shows displayed more

negative nonverbal behavior toward African Americans” (Saslow 1). The influence of the media

in our society shows that negative attitude toward African American still exist.

Many people will argue that racism and stereotyping no longer affect how people live

their lives in the United States but one only has to look as far as the White House to see that this

is not true.“ President Trump has inspired widespread outrage and disgust with his crude, racist

disparagement of Haiti, El Salvador and African nations and the predominantly black and brown

immigrants from these places.” ( Kramer 1). When the American society elected this person, and

give him power, then racism still abounds. When two black males are arrested for sitting in a

cafe, when there is different service for different races in a public eating place, our race should

not be something that defines who we are. How would something on the outside show the real

you? We need to stop guessing and start asking because the greatest distance you can travel in a

short amount of time is about asking someone’s name. We need to start letting people name

themselves because how we name ourselves is a reflection of who we are, our declaration to the

things we believe, the morals we abide by, our home, cultures, transformation. Our name is the

title to our story and every story needs a name. How we name others and if, we allow others to

name themselves is a reflection of our own declaration of our courage and our fear.

Works Cited

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