Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the USA


changes in US population

-USA originated as white European Protesants, black people were slaves

-19&20thC changes:

  • end of Civil War 1865, Emancipation of Slaves
  • immigration through 19&20th C brought new settlers: Irish Catholics, European Jews, Hispanics, refugees from Africa, middle east & Asia
  • 1990s, combined pop of AA's, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders & Hispanics grew @ 13X the rate of non-Hispanic white pop
  • 2010 consensus showed Hispanics 16.3% as larger proportion of US pop than AA's at 12.3%
  • racial & ethnic diversity largely differs from state to state: Vermont 95% white, Hawaii 24% white
  • Hispanic pop grew by 43% between 2000-2010, AA's grew by 12% in same period
  • 4 states, New Mexico, Texas, Cali & Hawaii are now majority-minority states 
  • estimated by 2025, Hispanic & Asian communities will make up 1/4 of US pop
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civil rights

-grew out of 1950s & passage of 13,14 & 15th Amendments, guaranteeing rights for AA's, yet laws in deep south meant rights were not reality for blacks

-seperate but equal rule applied 

-civil rights movement sparked from peaceful protest against gov sponspored segregation, which came into the streets & not debating chambers of cong of fed offices of W. DC. key events:

  • Brown V. Topeka 1954
  • bus boycotts & Rosa Parks along w/ freedom riders
  • March for Jobs & Freedom in W. DC, Martin Luther 'I have a dream' speech 1963
  • assassination of Luther in 1968
  • Million Man March in W. DC 1995

Civil Rights Leaders:

  • Luther & Southern Christian Leadership Conference 
  • Malcolm X and black panthers, Nation of Islam movement
  • Jesse Jackson & National Rainbow Coalition
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Affirmative Action - brief history

  • debate centres on equality of opportunity or equality of results 
  • mid 20th C, most civil rights advocates came to believe equal of op would not guarantee equal for minority groups - only have rights in theory, not practice
  • 1961, Kennedy ordered projects financed by fed funds to ensure AA, hiring & employment practices would be free from racial bias
  • AA attracted critics, 'set asides' and 'quotas' unfair to those in majority & patronising to min
  • 'reverse discrimination' - related to Uni of Cali V. Bakke 

landmark cases:

  • Adarand Constructors V. Pena 1995
  • Gratz V. Bollinger 2003
  • Parents Involved in Community Schools Inc V. Seattle School District No.1 2007
  • Meredith V. Jefferson County Board of Ed 2007
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summary on position of AA

  • courts subject quota systems to 'strict scrunity' and look for 'compelling justification' for them
  • quotas or preference systems cannot be used by state or local gov w/out showing rules are needed to correct a past or pres pattern of discrim
  • in proving that there has been discrim, is it not enough to show racial or ethnic minorities are statistically under-rep among employees
  • quotas or preference systems that are created by fed, rather than state law, will be given greater deference 
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arguments for AA

  • leads to greater multiculturalism
  • rights previous wrongs 
  • opens up areas of ed that minorities may not have considered
  • creates a divers student body in ed establishments that promotes racial tolerance
  • most effective way of delivery equal of opp
  • works  - between 1960 -1995, black students ages 25-29 who graduated rose from 5% to 15%
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arguments against AA

  • advanatge or preference for 1 groups leads to disadvantage for another group 
  • AA can lead to minorities being admitted to course they are not equipped for 
  • such programmes considered condescending to minorities, implying they need extra help to succeed 
  • AA prepetuates a society based on colour & race
  • it is not more than a quota system under another name
  • focuses on groups rather than individuals 
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has AA been a success?

  • 1995, Clinton declared 'AA has been good for America' 
  • AA was meant to achieve a move in society towards a time when previously disadvantaged groups would no longer be advantaged & such programmes wouldnt be required 
  • AA programmes seen as a means to an end

agruments for its failure:

  • programme that is based on race is unlikely to move society to a point where race no longer counts 
  • if ill-equipped minorities are put into positions where they might struggle, overall cost may be bigger than OG intended 
  • if Americans refuse to visit a black doctor because they assume that he or she was admitted to med school on AA rather than qualifications cost may be too high 

arguments for its success:

  • by promoting diversity, racial tolerance has been enhanced & old prejudices decreasing 
  • election of Obama 
  • AA judged in 25 years in Bollinger case - 2028
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minority rep in cong

  • 1984 - 21 AA's in Cong all in HofR
  • 2011- 42 AA's all in House
  • rise in AA members of the House largely due to majority-miniority districts in the 1990s
  • 2011 - 28 hispanics in Cong, 26 in House, 2 in Senate 
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minorities & pres elections

  • 1972 - Rep Shirley Chisholm D, became 1st major-party AA candidate for the presidency, she won 152 delegates at her party's NC
  • 1984 - civil rights activist, Jesse Jackson D, won over 3mil votes in D primaries, finished 3rd in no of votes cast. Jackson 1st AA candidate to win a major party pres primary, winning in 4 states 
  • 1988 - Jackon ran again for D nomination, winning in 10 states
  • 2008 - Obama D, 1st black major-party candidate 
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minorities in exec branch

  • 1st became an issue when LBJ appointed AA Robert Weave as Sec of Housing in 1966
  • last 3 sec of states were AA, Colin Powell 2001-05, Condoleeza Rice 2005-09 and Obama's attorney general Eric Holder 

2nd term cabinet 

-3 AA's Eric Holder, Susan Rice & Anthony Foxx

-1 Hispanic Thomas Perez

-1 Asian American Gary Locke 

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minorities in the judiciary

  • LBJ appointed 1st AA to SC, THurgood Marshall 
  • Bush replaced Marshall with Clarence Thomas in 1991 
  • 1986, Regan appointed 1st Italian - America , Antonin Scalia 
  • Sonia Sotomayor, Hispanic appointment by Obama in 2009 
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