One of the reasons that self segregation exists in our country is from the effect that history has on a culture. There is no culture or country in this world, despite the apathy which many people feel towards history which is not affected by it. America is a very disposable society and when I watch such television programs like the Jay Leno Show where in one piece, he finds people on the street and asks them simple questions as: “What century did the Civil War take place or who did American fight in WWII?” Their answers which incite laughter within the audience, makes me cringe. Even though I have only been in America for two years, upon arrival, I tried to learn as much as I could about the country; its history, culture and geography. I still have a great deal more to learn but I am confident that I know more about this country than one who is native to its land.
The reason for the importance is history in this societal problem is the fact that for four hundred years, America has been segregated. It has only been in the last fifty years, since the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board in 1954 and then the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Acts, has segregation been legally outlawed. However, 350 years cannot be erased so quickly.
In a Supreme Court Decision of an equal importance, Plessey vs. Ferguson, the majority opinion of the court said that the separation of the races was acceptable. ““We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”(Commanger, 1947. pg. 119) It took more than sixty years for the Supreme Court to say what the rest of the minorities in the country believed: that we were equal to everyone else in this country.
There have been less occurrences of discrimination among Asians in this country because simply, a large population of the Asian community was not allowed into the country. From 1882 and the Chinese Exclusion Act, until the Magnusson Act of 1942, no Chinese immigrants were allowed into the country and the Magnusson Act only allowed a paltry 105 Chinese immigrants into the country as a fulfillment of their quota. It is for the abovementioned reasons, as well as countless other examples, that the majority of the reasons for the self segregation in this country are a representative of what many in America have been conditioned to believe and act. I have a unique perspective because I am not native to this country and have not been conditioned to the same degree that many in America have concerning race. This is not to say that Koreans are above such practices. There was a newspaper report about a football player in the NFL; Heinz Ward who was both Korean and African American. (King, 2007) He was completely shunned by the Korean community as being a mixed race individual. The fact is that Korean is more of a homogenized society and such problems which come out of a diverse country as America, is not present to the same degree as in America.
Many people would say that America is not as racist as it once was in parts of our nation’s history. Others would say that the racism still exists but that it is hidden more and not out in the open as a result of the societal disrepute which would occur from its exposure. (Blitzer 2007) One thing is for sure, state sponsored racism is not allowed and although it may still exist to a small degree with Affirmative Action and quotas for individuals based upon their race and not their merit, America has come along way in now judging people, As Martin Luther King said: “not from the color of our skin but from the content of our character.” This is also the ultimate goal of our society, or it should be at least.
There are fraternities and sororities on campus which are designed to only cater to the African American or Latino groups. From what I understand, whites and Asians are allowed to join but rarely do. Whose fault is this and does it constitute a fault at all? It is hard to say. From my experiences, a person who voluntarily excludes himself from different races and groups, will more likely possess negative feelings towards that group, either on his own or when confronted with by an individual who is a member of that group. (Bowie, 2007) I have known some of my friends who are white and yet make negative comments about a number of African American friends which I have. These white friends are friendly to me and seem like nice people. I believe that such comments come from ignorance and not from facts about that person’s beliefs. It is because I am neither white, nor black; I fit more easily into both groups because I am an outsider and am not seen to be “loyal” to one race or another. This gives me a unique perspective into the ways in which both races act. The same is the case for the Hispanic community at school and in town. I will always be on the outside looking in if I desire full inclusion into one race or another. However, that is not my motivation but rather to be myself, take pride in my identity and to see how many quality friends of all races that I can attract.
It is only when this happens can racial barriers and stereotypes can be knocked down. BY doing so, one can see that not all white people are racist, not all black people commit crimes and are on welfare, not all Hispanics are here illegally in America and not all Asians are timid and weak. These general beliefs, although can be applied to a number of that particular race, comes from one’s inability to get to known and befriend a member of that other race. One place in which this is less present is in sports. Football teams all across the country, at universities from ocean to ocean, field football teams in which there exists on the roster, more than eighty players of a wide array of different races. The same can be said, although to a lesser degree, in baseball, soccer, swimming, wrestling and basketball to name a few sports. It is here that racial stereotypes and self segregation is broken down. One semester, I played intramural soccer. I had always loved the game while living in Korea and wanted to continue to play when I came to college. I was not good enough to play on the team but joined an intramural team later that year. There were a few people on the team that I had recognized from classes and from just seeing them on campus. I am even a victim of judging people before all the facts are in and as a result, did not initially feel comfortable with the people on my team. I was here to play soccer, not for a scholarship but to have fun and if I wasn’t going to because the roster was filled with people that I did not like, I was simply going to quit. However, I felt as though I should give the team a chance and since I don’t like to quit, I continued to play. I was very glad that I did because within two weeks, all of my preconceived notions could not have been more erroneous. Our team won a game and it felt as though we had won the World Cup. We ended that season with one of the worst records in the league but there could not have been a team which had more fun than we did. Perhaps that is why we lost so many games! However, I would not have changed it for the world.
The progress came when there were members of the team which I had formed an opinion on, based on their race; the exact thing which I had chided America for doing, I was doing as well. There was an African American who I initially avoided because I believed that she was going to be confrontational and abrasive. She ended up being one of my closest friends during the season and I believe that we will remain friends throughout college. There was a white person on the team who initially treated me badly the first day of practice and I thought that it was because I am Korean. I later learned that she was having a bad day, coupled with the fact that her social skills were poor and that she had trouble making friends and responded instead, by pushing others away. We both overcame that and I have dinner at her house at least once a week and even went to stay with her family over Thanksgiving Break. It all goes to show that one of the chief contributing factors to racism is ignorance. A lot of people are missing out on a lot of good and loyal friends of all races, if they simply go only by the race or gender of a person.
However, even though I support the government stepping in and forcing states to desegregate their public facilities, I am not so politically correct as to say that the government should be involved in every aspect of a person’s life in order to prevent racism in their heart. Governments do not have the ability to achieve such things. Coming from Korea as I do, I have seen and my parents have experienced, the effects of an oppressive government in North Korea. Every aspect of their lives that are ruled by their dictator and they live a very sad existence. The depletion of racism in America is a noble goal. However, if an individual feels more comfortable befriending people of his or her own race, there should not be any government in the world that should be able to tell that individual otherwise. If a lunch cafeteria is divided up by racial lines, an effort should be made to integrate the student body. However, as long as the students have a free choice in where they can sit and who they want to sit with, the government or anybody else should not be able to force people to sit someplace else. This only acts as reverse racial segregation. And is it has been learned by every parent since the beginning of time, the more a young adult is pressured to do something, the less likely he will do it. Authorities need to encourage racial desegregation in a fun and harmonious way which is creative and fun for the individual. The government needed to step in to stop racial desegregation because the facilities which serviced African Americans, were no where near equal to what was being given to the whites. Also, the government before Brown vs. Board was instructing people where they could go and who they could be seen with in their own time. Reverse racial desegregation, as imposed on an individual by the government, is nearly as counterproductive. The government and churches should encourage racial harmony through the eradication of racial quotas and preferences given to anyone based on race.
There exists in America today, less of a division of race and ethnicity than ever before in this country. ( Blitzer, 2007) However, government enforced, racial segregation has been replaced by self imposed racial segregation. One of the main reasons for this is that people have been conditioned to remain with people of their own race, regardless of how different, even people of one’s own race. The second reason is that there are differences between the races which sometimes result in a funny or amusing stand up comedy routine, but which equates towards the further separation of the races. Sometimes, these differences are so different that two individuals cannot overcome the change. “Often times, such differences are magnified by the preexisting notions and beliefs that both individuals have about the ways in which they believe, that race should behave.” (Michigandaily.com) What people sometimes fail to see is that one’s ethnicity is important to them and even though they go to a diverse church, have dozens of friends from different races and countries around the world and read authors from a dozen different genres and perspectives, there also comes a time in that person’s life when then wish to reconnect to their roots. Therefore, historically African American schools and fraternities should not be allowed to discriminate against a qualified white, Asian or Hispanic applicant. His or her entrance into the school should be judged on their test scores and grades more than their race. However, those same schools should not be pressured to allow entrance into their school, in the spirit of diversity, those who do not qualify by the merits of their accomplishments. Such practices, regardless of what race is involved, is discrimination.