Jan 28, 2020 in Exploratory

Socio of Ethnic Essay

In the United States of America, racism has been deeply rooted and institutionalized. Given the history of slavery in America, African Americans have historically occupied a position of submission and inferiority. Even though there are no biological, psychological, or any other reasons whatsoever for white supremacy, black people have not reaped the fruits of racial equality yet. Although racial segregation is present in many spheres of life such as economics, education, health, mass incarceration, and so on, researchers claim that housing segregation becomes a key factor in forming racial differences as it influences a wide range of people’s circumstances and directly or indirectly affects people’s life quality.

Housing segregation means that African Americans live physically separated from whites through institutionalized racism. The concept of racial housing segregation harkens back to the slavery past when people of different skin color lived separately. White masters could not have lived with their colored slaves. At that time, this practice was supported by legislature and general public agreement through religious institutions, courts, landowner, and so on. However, it is worthy of note that even after the abolishment of slavery, the rules of segregation were widely kept. Even after the proclaimed equality of rights, residential segregation has been kept at stable levels. Both in the North and in the South, residential segregation remained on the same level since the 1940s. In fact, there are tendencies to the more pronounced concentration of poverty within inner-city neighborhoods.

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A complex of set habits and practices underlies housing segregation. According to sociological data, one in five African Americans has had negative experience in house buying or renting. Landlords and real estate agents tend to withhold information from African American customers, offer worse variants and poorer neighborhoods, and refuse to assist in financing. However, housing segregation is experienced not only by blacks; Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans also encounter racial prejudices when choosing housing accommodations. At that, housing segregation practices do not usually occur or they are less prominent in multinational neighborhoods, while in predominantly white areas, housing segregation is very pronounced. Furthermore, segregation is not limited by renting and house buying. It can occur when landlords refuse or neglect their obligations to fix appliances or services when something is out of order or when neighbors act ugly and rudely to neighbors of other races. Additionally, researchers note that more often, housing segregation refers to other than middle- and upper-class people, so people of lower status are usually targets of housing segregation.

As a result of segregation, the poor tend to stick together and become even poorer. The environment in poor inner-city enclaves changes for worse. Poorer neighborhoods deteriorate quicker, the level of crimes increases, and people rely on welfare more and work less. In his article “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass”, Douglas S. Massey explains how segregation affects poverty level and increases them. For example, in the 1970s, those cities that had higher levels of segregation, such as New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, saw a surge in poverty levels in inner-city neighborhoods. Making experimental models of the cities with different levels of racial segregation, Massey proves that the more pronounces racial segregation is, the more obvious the black-white disparity is (336). The author claims that in the absence of racial segregation, a rise of poverty for a group of blacks affects their well-being and economic status but does not change the neighborhood environment. Meanwhile, in highly segregated areas, even a small change in socioeconomic status leads to large increase in poverty concentration.

Inasmuch as racial segregation is closely connected with poverty, together these two factors affect other social and economic conditions. As it is known, black males are more subjected to worse socioeconomic scenarios than black females, so in case of increased poverty, family ties might be disrupted, mothers become heads of households, and number of people/families relying on welfare as well as level of delinquencies increases. Additionally, racially segregated neighborhoods tend to deteriorate more rapidly and evenly, unlike racially non-segregated areas. It means that landlords have less income to repair faulty houses and systems, while in case of substantial means, they might feel reluctant to do so against the background of general poverty. Small businesses do not flourish in such neighborhoods and they even leave them. Additionally, poor neighborhoods have worse educational services and less medical services available. Due to a decrease in income, hospitals close and the remaining public services are of worse quality. As poor people are more inclined to lead unhealthy lifestyles, it results in higher mortality and death rates.  

Thus, the major areas of racial inequality such as education, employment opportunities, and health can be singled out as a direct result of segregation. Education is a basis for future prosperity and there is a correlation between the level of education and subsequent level of life. Therefore, people try to give their children the best education they can. In this regard, racial segregation is viewed as one of the primary causes of racial inequality. In the USA, usually, children attend schools in their neighborhoods, and communities finance schools. Therefore, poorer communities have worse schools and worse level of education. Unlike white people, who, even poor ones, can live in well-off areas, poor black people tend to be concentrated in poor inner-city neighborhoods. It affects the income level of the community and results in poorer schools. As a result, schools have less qualified staff and less varied curriculum. It leads to lower academic performance and less enthusiasm among students. Segregated and poor schools have fewer affiliations with colleges and universities and fewer educational opportunities for their students. Therefore, students are less motivated, they do not see reasons to study and often, they drop out of school. In addition, the levels of teen pregnancy and rates of delinquency are higher in such neighborhoods.

Seeing racial segregation, students tend to think that it is impossible to change anything. They feel high pressure to achieve something to live in a different way but they do not have any means to do it. To compensate, they choose crimes and substance abuse. Thus, housing segregation has direct influence on educational opportunities as it results in poverty concentration, which leads to an aggravation in schooling and education in the residential area.

Racial inequality that begins in educational opportunities continues in employment opportunities. Studies reveal that racial inequalities in job opportunities have a systematic character and are institutionalized. For example, when researchers studied responses to emailed resumes, they have revealed that ‘white-sounding’ name such as Emily and Brad receive half as much responses as ‘black-sounding’ names such as Jamal and Lakisha. Thus, black males spend more time looking for a job, they have fewer and less interesting job offers, and as a result, they have less work experience. However, work experience is in high demand among employees and it results in more rejections of black males. A similar vicious circle can be observed in “skills mismatch” when black males are intentionally offered job for which they do not have qualification. For example, big corporations often move their facilities to suburban areas with a lower numbers of black males. According to Wall Street Journal, African Americans lost 59,000 jobs in 1990-1991, while Asians and Latina/o/s gained the same amount of jobs and whites gained twice as many jobs as African Americans had lost.

Curiously, the level of education does not influence hiring rates among races. For example, there is a 70% difference between black and white employement. The desparity only rises with the educational level: the higher the level of education is, the more chances are that a black candidate will not find a qualified job. Although scholars note that employement depends on other factors as well such as personal characteristics and effort, it does not explain the difference in employment among the races in people with the same eductional level. Additionally, low and unstable employment deprives black families of positive examples and means to find good jobs. Housing segragation causes isolation and in total, it creates the environment that lessens a person’s desire to be a provider. Without due motivation, a person is unable to move upward a social ladder. As a result, he or she might not see the point of fulfilling their obligations and keeping hours and can view jail sentences as a normal practice in their neighborhood; therefore, an individual does not do the necessary things to avoid it. 

As for racial inequality in wage disparities, the findings are mixed and the majority of researchers tend to believe that it has more to do with “factors that precede labor market entry (e.g., skill acquisition) rather than discrimination within the labor market”. African Americans are mostly discriminated at job interviews by not providing full and complete job information. Overall, African Americans have more troubles with being treated equally when getting a job rather than racial inequalities in wages. 

As Massey stated above, housing segregation leads to poverty concentration, which in turn results in health implications. Massey writes about a direct influence such as an inability to purchase medicines, which increases decease and mortality rates, and an indirect influence when health services get worse and fewer. As health is closely related to social and economic situation of an individual, housing segregation and subsequently poverty concentration lead to worse health status for residents. Researchers note that when comparing blacks and whites of the same economic status, blacks exhibit poorer health. Overall, life expectancy is lower for African Americans despite their socioeconomic status. In comparison with the 1970s, African Americans’ economic status and health outcomes did not improve in the 1990s. Scholars say that there is a correlation between black-white disparities in economic stance and in health. The more the segregation is, the more the difference in income is. In turn, the racial gap in economic stance increases a gap in health.

Housing segregation affects people the most because residential area determines where people study and work and, therefore, it affects an individual’s economic status. Additionally, racial segregation indirectly influences physical health and psychological well-being of an individual. A number of researchers stress that residential segregtion does not exist in vaccum. It affects other spheres of life and is in direct reference to ecomonic and psychological well-being of people. Racial segregation does not allow black households evenly absorb a shock from income troubles and as a result, it contributes to poverty concentration. Poverty quickly changes the face of a neighborhood and causes quick deterioration of facilities and premises. Given psychological implications of such an environment, people feel less motivated to study and work diligently. It results in high rates of crimes, teen pregrancy, low academic records, and therefore poor career choices and job offers. On the whole, house segregation worsens health outcomes, educational and job opportunities.

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