Bystander effect

Term Paper Essay on Social Constructions and Racism in America

Social Constructions of Racism in America


Determining social construction entails the emphasis that is put on certain subject matter on the various contingent aspects of social life. This generally means that social construction is all about the emphasis that we give to various phenomenon when in actual sense they need not have been emphasized at all (McLaughlin 2011 p. 77). This means that some “constructs” that are built in society exists because people or the society thinks it is better if a situation was in a particular manner. For example, in some instances, the society may believe that there are some people who are “richer”, “higher” in status than others. This being the case, the society creates the construct of “stereotype” where some people are regarded superior than others. It may be that if the scenario was taken in another social setting, may be where al people are regarded as “equal”, such a situation would not arise. Some socially constructed things that are based on this idea include money, and citizenship’s among others. It should be noted that things like money were constructed by society and therefore could not have existed without the society. Take an example of racism, ethnicity, gender among others and one will discover that if the society never existed, then there could be none of it. Racism has become a biological notion because of its effect in the lives of people in society such that some people believe that they are the rightful owners of certain regions while others are not. The aim of this paper is to explain the social construct of racism in the context of the American having an African American president yet racism still thrives.

Definition of Social Construction

Despite the fact that the Americans elected their first black American president in 2008, race and racism has continued to hold significant impact and influence on the Americans. Though it is on a downward trend, racism still exists. Racism has continued to create policies, intentional, and unintentional institutions that have led to inequalities between the whites and the blacks in America. Institutional racism exists even today and this puts the African American at a disadvantageous position. As indicated in various compositions of the workforce in the top most positions in organizations, there is more that need to be done to cater for the racism effect.

It should be noted that the use of the term social construct has contributed to the widening perception gap in the concepts and minds of the African American and the whites. This therefore means that what the African American means by talking about racism may be different from what the white thinks of the same. Racism according to the people of color includes the policies and practices both intentional and unintentional in institutions that are racially discriminatory. Racism resides in the context of the society while prejudice operates in the context of an individual.

Explaining Social Inequities in the Workplace as Social Constructs

Although there have been achievements in the workplaces in terms of representations, there is still underrepresentation of the blacks at the higher level of management in most of the field. Acts have been passed on federal employment regarding racial discrimination but racial disparities continue to be witnessed. The majority of the white even today, believe have better rights in regard to payments than the black counterparts in an organization, even though they have the same qualifications. African American names continue to be undermined and shunned in many workplaces in favor of the American names. This has led to the onset and rise of institutional racism (Downing, 2005 p. 10-18).  In New York City restaurants, the whites were more likely to get hired than the people of the color. With equal qualification, education and language skills, the white are favored while the people of color are discriminated upon. This is seen when whites are given longer interviews and are given better hours for the restaurant jobs. At the same time, the people of color, though having the same qualifications as their white counterparts were given lesser pay for the same job.

The advantage of the social construct of racism in the workplace is that it helps the whites to be able to enjoy all the best positions of power and those positions that are high paying. At the same time, the stereotyping that takes place in the workplace helps the whites in discriminating the African Americans. The disadvantage on the other hand is the fact that the African Americans are denied their rightful positions in the society, and in the workplace. They are also denied equal pay with white persons with same jobs.

Social Constructs and Racial Segregation and Inequality in the Health Care

Research done suggests that African American and other racial minorities tend to   receive lower quality health care than the whites, even when they had the same insurance and incomes (Krimsky, 2011). It is a social construct that has been created by the white American to have the notion that African Americans do not deserve equal health treatment as the white. The research indicates that though diagnosed as psychotic, they were less likely to be given the required medication for psychotic treatment and are more likely to put under restraints and involuntary hospitalizations than whites.

The advantages of the social construct in the health care to the white include the fact that the whites are given preferential treatment when they report to health care facilities that are manned by the white. They are not also given an involuntary stay as it happens to the African Americans.  This aspect is only advantageous to the African American when they report to institutions of health that are manned by their white counterparts.

Racism in the Education Sector

In 1954, law was passed making racially segregated schools unconstitutional. Despite this fact, the black children continue to receive unequal education treatment in terms of facilities, textbooks, and the school curriculum and teacher qualifications. This in essence indicates racism and in fact leads to unequal educational outcomes between the African American children and the white children. Urban schools that have high minority populations usually have the highest poverty indices. In Chicago for example, 86% of the public schools come from families with low income. On the contrary, the white students attend schools that are 80% white with no more than 30% of the low family students. Inequality has been manifested by the award of more resources to districts that have lowest minority enrollment and few resources to schools that the highest minority enrollment. This leads to lack of equal opportunities, inferior access to qualified and experienced teachers, larger class sizes, and fewer advanced placement courses among other services.  Teachers who are less experienced are hired by the racially segregated lower income schools. In California to be precise, teachers who lack the appropriate qualifications teach in the majority-minority population. Studies done indicate that tracking has also been used on teachers to create disparities on black students. The report follows that when a teacher is known to raise the performance and educational standards of the black population such that they start to increase, he is transferred from that school. This system of tracking is applied where standardized tests are used to measure student’s cognitive ability and students are grouped based on their scores. This being the case, the African Americans are kept alone and this leads to better performance for the high track students and low performance for lower track students. The African Americans in this case are allocated the low ability tracks, which leads to teachers having low expectations for such students. In this, lower track students are taught less, learn less and also read less.

Whites have the greatest advantage as far as racism and prejudice is concerned. This is because, they are given the best education from the best teachers, and at the same time, they attend the best schools that have little composition of the black population. The blacks on the other hand are segregated and are put in the low ability tracks indicating they are underachievers.

Racism at the Justice Center

In racial profiling African American are most discriminated (Birzer, 2012).  Racial profiling is the use of race alone by the security personnel from security officers as a reason for stopping and detaining somebody who appears suspicious of criminal activity. Due to this discrimination aspect, the blacks have termed the issue as the crime of DWB or crime of “driving while black”.  Because of this racial prejudice, almost 90% of the African Americans are stopped by white police, though not arrested. This indicates the fact that only about 10% of the blacks arrested are stopped having committed criminal activities. In terms of police brutality, African Americans are the most victims of police brutality or the use of excessive force by the police officers (Rueter, 1995, p. 204-299).  Research has indicated that race is a factor in capital punishment where the blacks are disproportionately placed on the death row (Unnever, 2011). Research has in many instances indicated that when both the blacks and white commit the same crime against a white victim, the likelihood of the black offender receiving a death penalty is high. Disparities continue even after a person has been arrested. However, in municipalities where African Americans are in charge of the police departments, there was minimal and reduced disparity and police brutality. At the same time, there was an increase in police minority recruitment and in some other places, decrease in criminal activities. The people of color are also likely to be given no probation.

The advantage of the social construct in the justice system does not occur to the African Americans who are treated with disparity. Cases brought before the judicial system usually discriminate against the African American but favor the whites. In terms of punishment, the African Americans are deemed to be the wrong doer’s in situations where both the white and black are taken to court.  in this, since they are taken to be those on the wrong, they are in most cases given death sentences or discriminatory sentence. Only in regions where African Americans police head are the cases minimal in terms of criminal activities, sentences and occurrences.


The social construction of race still exists. Irrespective of the fact that the American people elected an African American president does not necessarily mean that the vice has ended. It is still carried out in offices, in the justice sector, health institutions among other places. It should be noted that despite the fact that racism is against the American law, racial prejudice has not ended. At the same time, stereotyping race has worsened leading to people believing that some people are more equal than others. Racism has continued to plague various institutions in the society by creating policies both intentional and unintentional that lead to racial inequality among the African American and the whites in America. Despite this fact, racism and social prejudices have significantly reduced and the American society has made steps in recognizing each other’s difference by working together and also living in racially mixed neighborhoods. In spite of this, more need to be done to improve the scenarios and experiences that the African American faces as they enter the American institution.




Birzer, M. (2012). Racial Profiling: They Stopped Me Because I’m _!. CRC Press.

Downing, J. D., & Husband, C. (Eds.). (2005). Representing race: Racisms, ethnicity and the media. Sage.

Krimsky, S., Sloan, K., & Council for Responsible Genetics. (2011). Race and the genetic revolution: Science, myth, and culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

McLaughlin, H. (2011). Understanding social work research. Sage.

Rueter, T. (1995). The politics of race: African Americans and the political system. Armonk, NY [u.a.: Sharpe.

Unnever, J. D., & Gabbidon, S. L. (2011). Race, Racism, and Crime. Taylor & Francis.

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