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An overview of the racial tension in the united states in the past century

As the century began, the U. The nonwhite minority was composed primarily of black Americans living in the rural South.

America’s Racial and Ethnic Minorities

The minority population is comprised of nearly as many Hispanics as blacks, surging numbers of Asians, and a small but growing American Indian population. By the middle of the 21st century, non-Hispanic whites will make up a slim and fading majority of Americans.

Hispanics will be nearly one-fourth of the U. Blacks, Asians, and American Indians together will make up close to one-fourth of the population. The four minority groups make up at least one-half of the residents in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio, and several other metropolitan areas. But many parts of the country have little racial or ethnic diversity.

Minorities make up less than 5 percent of the populations of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia, for example. Immigration is transforming the U. Asian and Hispanic populations.

  1. African slavery, for instance, provided free labor and added political clout for slaveholding states in the South.
  2. Across the South, federal troops were called in to facilitate the process.
  3. And that has changed everything.

Asian population was predominately Japanese, Filipino, and Chinese just two decades ago. Minorities have also become more diverse socioeconomically. The number of minorities in the highest income brackets has more than doubled since 1980, for example, yet minorities still account for a disproportionate share of the poor.

  • Now numbering four million souls, they were, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has written, America's "greatest financial asset";
  • And that has changed everything.

More minority politicians are being elected to public office, but minorities are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to serve time in prison. More minorities are earning graduate and professional degrees, yet a disproportionately large percentage never finish high school. Many businesses target their products to specific minorities because they recognize that minorities are an expanding market. Aspects of black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian culture—including art, food, music, and styles of dress—are being adopted throughout American society.

Americans are divided in their beliefs about the long-term effects of the growing diversity. Discussions on this topic sometimes become heated because the increase in the minority populations is closely linked to important policy issues relating to immigration, affirmative action, welfare, and education reform.

Few Americans have a good grasp of how large the different minority groups are. A 1997 survey by the Gallup organization found that just 8 percent of Americans knew that African Americans make up between 10 percent and 15 percent of the U. In a 1990 Gallup poll, respondents estimated that Hispanics made up about 20 percent of the U. Opinion polls also show that many white Americans believe that racial discrimination no longer impedes the advancement of minorities.

Yet numerous studies document continued discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities in employment, housing, criminal arrests and prosecutions, and many other sectors of society.

Although the transition to a multiethnic America is moving at a rapid pace, it is occurring remarkably smoothly. But occasionally tensions build and erupt into serious confrontations.

Know your history: Understanding racism in the US

In the 1990s, Americans have witnessed racial riots in Los Angeles, the burning of African American churches in the South, and the murders of a Filipino postal worker in California and of a black man in Texas. Hate crimes against minorities, especially African Americans, reportedly increased in the 1990s.

Yet such confrontations are rare and involve far fewer people than the violence among racial and ethnic groups in many other countries. Hate crimes and blatant racism directed against immigrants have been widely reported in Western Europe in recent decades as these countries received an influx of economic migrants and political refugees.

During the last decade of the century, ethnic and religious differences have led to massacres of ethnic Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda; full-scale war involving Serb, Bosnian, Albanian, and other ethnic groups in the Balkans; and violence against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. To the rest of the world, the United States is a grand and daring experiment. No other country has so successfully blended so many people of different races and cultures. At a time when racial and ethnic rivalries are promoting violence around the globe, how Americans handle their transition to a multiracial society has implications that extend far beyond U.

If the United States can avoid a violent clash of cultures, the country can benefit from its growing diversity.

Ideas of Race in Early America

A multicultural, multiethnic America has a competitive advantage in the global economy. The United States is geographically positioned to serve the growing Latin American market to its south, its traditional European market to its east, and the burgeoning Asian market to its west.

As Americans reassess their view of the nation and its future, they will no doubt express contradictory views and arrive at different positions on public policy issues. Resolving those differences will be easier if Americans understand the current demographic reality of U.