Final Paper - Kayla Butler 203-706-009 Sociology...

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Kayla Butler 203-706-009 Sociology 116/Section 1A December 1, 2011 The Inequality of Race in America Introduction In the United States, as well as many nations around the world, education in greatly valued. It is viewed a means to a good life. Parents often emphasize that a good education is needed to get a good job and make a lot of money. Basically, the United States is a success-driven society that frowns upon those who fail. This success that we refer to is often measured in income and accumulated wealth. However, looking at the distribution of wealth and income between people of different races, we can see a stark difference in the inequality of income. These differences become less severe when class status is taken into consideration. Therefore, it is often conceived that race is not the issue when it comes to income inequality. I, for one, believe this is true. However, I would like to argue that it is racial inequalities in the United States that lead to class inequalities. These class inequalities, in turn, produce educational inequalities that further lead to income inequalities. This vicious cycle makes the accumulation of wealth—such as home ownership—and therefore the elevation of class status, difficult for non-white individuals in the United States. Focusing on White, Black, and Asian Americans (raced), we can see the inequalities in educational attainment (educd), income (inctot), poverty status (poverty), and home ownership (ownershpd). Although we cannot say for certain which factor leads to the others, I would argue that the history of racial inequality in the United States is the basis for inequality in the other areas today. Background
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In order to argue that racial inequality persists in the United States today, we must examine the recent histories of these groups beyond the vague and overarching concepts on slavery and immigration. Although these concepts played a role in the current states of these races, it is important to acknowledge the details that relate to income, home ownership (or wealth), education, and poverty, specifically. Beginning with income, government policies in the latter half of the 20 th century systematically discriminated against nonwhites. For example, the GI Bill of Rights—enacted after World War II —gave military veterans access to home ownership, college education, unemployment insurance and more (Desmond 2010). However, this bill was not extended to nonwhite veterans. This led to the ability of veterans—mainly whites—to create the middle-class America that we know today (Desmond 2010). Fast forward to the 1980s and we see deindustrialization take hold, leading to a service economy. During this time, “whites were four times more likely to be employed full time in service industries than blacks” (Desmond, p. 155). When we include the effects of supply-side economics, not only was there an increased gap between the wealthy and poor but also an increased gap between whites and nonwhites (Desmond 2010). “The tendency to forget this
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This note was uploaded on 02/23/2012 for the course SOCIOLOGY 116 taught by Professor Cameroncampbell during the Fall '11 term at UCLA.

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Final Paper - Kayla Butler 203-706-009 Sociology...

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