Laws against Racial Discrimination in the USA

By | September 14, 2021
Laws against Racial Discrimination in the USA

This article on ‘Laws against Racial Discrimination in the USA’ is written by Pranava Pishati and focuses on the problem of racial discrimination and the laws against the same in the United States of America.

I. Introduction

Racial discrimination is being treated differently because of your race, which can refer to one’s skin colour or nationality (including citizenship). It can also refer to ethnic or national roots that are not the same as one’s current nationality.

Racism has persisted in the United States from the medieval period against numerous ethnic or minority groups. Throughout most of the history of the United States, African Americans, especially, have suffered constraints on their political, social, and economic liberties.

Racial discrimination breeds a society in which people do not trust or respect one another. When people are denied equitable access to jobs, services, and education, it leads to a negative impact on their overall well-being.

Race often refers to the ethnic and racial groups (groups of persons who all share the same protected trait of ethnicity or race). One shall not be discriminated against due to their race, as per the different Acts adopted in the United States. It does not have to be intentional for it to be illegal; even if it is unintentional, one must have to face consequences. Despite these acts, there have been a number of events that took place in the last few years.

II. Anti-discrimination laws

The prohibition on racial discrimination is a recognized pre-emptive rule in international law, as reflected in the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and customary international law. The application of international law, affirms the principles of non-discrimination and equality.

Individuals are protected against discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many anti-discrimination provisions are included in the Act, including Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Equal Employment Opportunities), which forbids employment discrimination based on race, colour, religion, gender, or national origin (including limited English proficiency)[1].

An employment policy or procedure that applies to everyone, irrespective of race or colour, can be prohibited if it has a negative effect on the productivity of people of a specific race or colour and is not employment or vital to the business’s operation. Title 42, Chapter 21 of the United States Code bans discrimination against people based on their age, handicap, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in a variety of contexts, including education, employment, public accommodations, federal services, and more. A number of federal civil rights acts, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Civil Rights of Systematized Persons Act, are codified under Chapter 21.

III. Other Acts and programs

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act assures that all applicants have an equal opportunity to get credit through its anti-discrimination clause. Creditors are prohibited by the ECOA from discriminating against credit applicants based on their race, colour, religion, national origin, sex, familial circumstances, age, or use of public assistance.

Education programs, such as the office for civil rights (OCR), enforce various Federal civil rights statutes that prohibit discrimination in Department of Education-funded programs or activities. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, colour, and national origin, as well as gender, disability, and age.

These requirements apply to all state education agencies, elementary and high school systems, schools and colleges, vocational schools, private schools, state vocational rehab agencies, libraries, and museums that receive federal funds from the US Department of Education.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) forbids residential discrimination based on race, colour, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap in the sale, rental, and financing of housing and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) prohibits the denial or restriction of the right to vote, as well as discrimination in voting methods based on race and colour, throughout the United States[2].

There may also be times when discrimination based on race is legal. In employment contexts, a variation in treatment may be legal if membership to a specific race is required for the job. This is referred to as an occupational necessity.

For instance, a company wishes to hire a support worker for a domestic abuse counselling program for South Asian women. The organization can state that it exclusively wishes to hire persons of South Asian ancestry if the job description emphasizes encouraging or developing people from a racial group that is under-represented or disadvantaged in a role or activity.

IV. Recent incidents

1. George Floyd case

George Floyd, a 46-year-old man was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill. On May 25, 2020, he was kneeled on the neck by the officers on Minneapolis Street for eight minutes and 46 seconds. while the other officers had his knees on his upper legs and gripped Floyd’s bound arms. so, that he can’t move. Even when Floyd went unconscious, the officers remained still.

According to prosecutors, they finally let go of him when an ambulance came, about two minutes after he originally stated he couldn’t find a pulse[3]. Floyd was later declared dead at a nearby hospital. Two autopsies’ reviews found Floyd’s death to be a homicide by the officers. And officer Chauvin was convicted of murder.

While George Floyd was not the only black person to die at the hands of US police officers, photographs of him slowly suffocating went viral. His killing spurred additional rallies in support of the Black Lives Matter organization, which was founded in 2013.

In response to Floyd’s killing, thousands of people flocked to the streets in Minneapolis, as well as cities across the United States and around the world. Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully in the United States at first, but a few days after some demonstrations turned violent.

Lootings, damage, and even shootings were reported. Cars were set on fire, and there were conflicts with police. Even after Floyd’s death over 60 people[4] were killed by police during the period of the Chauvin (the officer-involved) trial.

2. Asian attacks during covid-19

Attacks on Asians surged in the first quarter of 2021, continuing a problem that began with the coronavirus outbreak last year. According to police data compiled by the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, provided to VOA, show that police departments investigated 95 attacks on Asian Americans in 16 of the largest and most populated cities during the first quarter of this year[5].

President Joe Biden’s government has taken steps to reduce the violence, which advocates believe was spurred in part by former President Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks about the virus’s origins in China.

The United States House of Representatives is debating legislation passed by the Senate that would establish a new Justice Department position dedicated to addressing the issue. According to the FBI, anti-Asian hate crimes have been progressively increasing in recent years. However, attacks increased during the epidemic, according to Asian American activists, who claim Trump’s frequent allusions to the coronavirus as the “China virus” and “Kung-flu” fuelled the hate crime wave.

3. Facebook removed racists posts against Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is a former state attorney general and US Senator from California. She is the first woman of Indian descent and the first woman ever elected as Vice President of the United States. When she won, Facebook was ordered to remove a slew of racist and misogynistic postings, memes, and remarks regarding US Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris.

The pages accused that Ms. Harris was a non-citizen of the United States because her mother was from India and her father was from Jamaica. Other people said she wasn’t “black enough” for the Democrats. Another commenter suggested she be “deported to India[6].” Only when flagged by a third party were these posts removed and Facebook didn’t take any further action on those pages spreading hate speech.

The fact that Facebook only removed this information after it was identified by the media demonstrates that the rules and standards, they establish are empty since they put very little effort into detecting and implementation of such hate speech when they easily identify posts related to Covid-19.

V. Conclusion

The United States sets a terrible example of a democracy that has failed to protect its citizens from racism, despite anti-discrimination legislation and equal protection guarantees. Racism is a persistent issue that affects every socioeconomic and ecological domain.

Racism produces power imbalances that might reduce social inclusion because it “leads to incomplete citizenship, undervalued rights, undervalued recognition, and undervalued participation,” and it fosters an oppressive society.

Organizations and social media platforms should restate their commitment to justice and equity, as well as active design, implementation, and assessment of policies and practices to ensure that racism is not institutionalized in a systematic manner.


References

[1] ‘Title VII Of The Civil Rights Act Of 1964 | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’ (Eeoc.gov, 2021) Available Here.

[2] ‘Race Discrimination: Applicable Laws – Findlaw’ (Findlaw, 2021) Available Here.

[3] Bazian, Hatem. ““I Can’t Breathe”.” Islamophobia Studies Journal 5, no. 2 (2020): 124-33. Accessed September 1, 2021.Available Here.

[4] ‘People Shot To Death By U.S. Police, By Race 2021 | Statista’ (Statista, 2021) Available Here.

[5] (Csusb.edu, 2020) Available Here.

[6] ‘Facebook Removes Racist Posts Targeting Kamala Harris – Shethepeople TV’ (SheThePeople TV, 2021) Available Here.


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