Racial and Ethnic Inequality - Sample Essay

Inequality cannot be separated from the concept of poverty, and with other societal issues. There are different kinds of inequality but one of the most prevalent, besides the ones previously mentioned economic disparity, is that of racial and ethnic origin. Racial and ethnic inequalities result from the recognition of physical or cultural differences between groups and attaching social definitions to them. For instance, black and Hispanic students are usually stigmatized as poor in class relative to their Asian and White counterparts.

Richard Anderson (2000) from the University of Colorado at Denver confirmed that African American Air Force trainees fare not quite as good with the other students because of the (white) instructors’ alleged lack of faith in their capacities. They are not given as much opportunity to take risk, which is an integral part in their course. Another form of inequality is one inflicted among women. Although prevalent in the Third Worlds of Africa and Asia, gender inequality is definitely a worldwide phenomenon.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen (2001) presented the “many faces of gender inequality” in his works. The seven types are mortality inequality, natality inequality, basic facility inequality, special opportunity inequality, professional inequality, ownership inequality and household inequality. For modern societies, women’s oppressions typically include the burden of maintaining career and home at the same, as well as roadblocks to occupational or educational success.

However, in traditional cultures where women are viewed as mere second-class citizens, domestic abuse, abortion of female babies and foetal-sex change becomes the problem. Just like women, non-heterosexual persons like gays, lesbians, transsexuals and transgender individuals are common victims of inequalities. Often referred to as societal problems due to a person’s sexual orientations, Lucianne Englert (2005) of Indiana University wrote that injustices faced by these people are present everywhere, from work and housing discrimination to lack of tax benefits akin to state-recognized marriages.

Gay bashings, legal separation from their children and revoked rights to HIV status privacy also occurs. Beloved and Sethe are two characters whose lives are actually greatly influenced, if not altogether determined by circumstances that are established, ironically borne out of another concept of morality. Some people at the time probably have actually believed it right to discriminate, as slavery is borne out of racism which is borne out of ethnocentric perspectives of what is good and evil, such as the association of white to good and of black to evil.

The problem starts when only one perspective is forced unto all. What happens to the other side of the story, which is that of the blacks? Poverty and inequality are two of the greatest problems afflicting the world today. They bore the greatest effect on human lives and cannot be separated from other ails afflicting society. Once the public collectively attach labels to the traits distinctive of a particular group or gender, behaviour towards this group is altered. This will eventually shape their roles in the community.

The adverse affect of this may range from overt, like a denied admission to a good university, or subtle, like slower customer services. Generally, their parity right to resources and opportunities is breached and due to the differential treatment, they are involuntarily segregated as unwanted members of the population.


Anderson, R. H. (2000). Racial and Ethnic Inequality. Retrieved May 24, 2007 at: http://carbon. cudenver. edu/public/sociology/introsoc/topics/ UnitNotes/week07. html Asquith, Stewart. The Role of the Social Worker in the 21st Century. Retrieved May 24, 2007 at: http://www.indiana.edu/~rcapub/v18n2/p23.html