What does the civil rights movement andthe abolition of slavery have in common? They both revolved around gaining the rightsof African American people. For decades, equality has been a constant strugglefor the African American race. Even in today’s advanced society, racism andsegregation still exist in discrete ways. Society claims that most largeproblems consisting of race are vanquished in America, but racial statisticsargue otherwise. Just because these prominent issues sometimes go unnoticed doesn’tmean they do not exist. Minorities are still treated as inferior in multiplecategories; the African American race is one of the most discriminated againstout of all minorities in America.
Today, new activist groups like Black LivesMatter or the Black Girls Code organization have been created in order to fightthese racial problems. Among ethnic groups, women who are also African Americanget the brunt of discouragement and negative influences from society. It istime a change is brought upon how our society perceives these women based solelyon skin pigmentation and gender. After all, humans are identical anatomy wisewithout looking at skin color. We tend to think and learn in the same ways.
So whyis it deemed so important that one is defined by something ridiculously biasedas skin pigmentation? African American women face this judgement almost everyday. That is not acceptable that they are treated differently because of genderidentity and racial status. It is time to review the disparities againstAfrican American women because this difference is prejudiced and it is time fora revision. Adominant way society retains segregation between African American women andwomen in other races is education. It is already established that black women havelower wages and less advanced careers than other women. This stems from a lackof quality education available for black women; it also occurs because ofsocial stigmas that degrade the self-esteem of African American girls. MostAfrican American students grow up in inner city schools that are stripped formoney; many of these schools are in high poverty areas that are typically notsafe. The deficit of reliable education in inner city environments leads to a feweramounts of successful career options for African American women.
Employers may bebiased towards black women not only because of gender, but also because of theirrace. This perpetual segregation of AfricanAmerican women in the work force causes a double jeopardy against the blackwomen seeking suitable career options. As mentioned earlier, some activistgroups such as Black Girls Code encourage African American women to pursuehigher achieving careers. Black Girls Code is a non-profit organization thatprovides schooling for young African American girls in technological fieldssuch as STEM and computer science. Even with the aid of programs that encouragehigher education and more successful careers, there is still a gap betweenAfrican American women and others when statistics looking at educationenrollment Is observed. For instance, the data represented in the book The Gendered Society depicts thedifference of enrollment rates among women of various races.
It is pointed outthat in universities “black women have a thirty-six percent enrollment rate comparedto the forty-two percent of white women that were enrolled” (Kimmel). Among allthose surveyed which included Asian, Hispanic, and Caucasian females, blackwomen had the lowest percentages for being enrolled in college; this includeslooking at all social classes, so out of low-income, middle-income, andhigh-income situations, black women were the lowest percentage for allcategories. When it comes to overall wage, the unfortunate situation does not improve.Wages for women overall are known to be lower than men, but African Americanwomen have even lower incomes than women in other races. Again, it is shownthat black women earned less average income than both white and Asian females.According to Kimmel, “the average income for white females was $684 dollars in2010, for Asian women it was $773 dollars, but for black women, it onlyaveraged $592 dollars.” Is this gap the sole result of a lacking amount ofdecent education for a large proportion of African American females? Or is thisgap attributed to a racial bias? The cause of this gap incorporates both ofthese ideas plus other stigmas that surround black women. Because there is adefined gap between African American women and women of other races in botheducation and the workforce, it can be safely assumed that being a black femalecan be a disadvantage in the working world.
Atfirst glance, it is commonly assumed that an African American individualusually originates from a poor residential neighborhood where incarceration anddrug rates are high. While this stigma is not true for all cases, it is proventhat neighborhoods do tend to be racially segregated. According to a recentstudy, even “high-income blacks willlive in poorer neighborhoods on average than their white counterparts” (Bruch).So as one can see, even those African American individuals who have a fairly prosperousjob tend to occupy poorer more segregated neighborhoods. This living situationis worse for black women because the average income for African American womenis much lower. This proves these women are pre-disposed by society to live in impecuniousresidential areas even if they manage to share equal wealth with their white compeers.
Being in these characterized neighborhoods causes many problems for black women,especially health issues. These poverty-stricken areas give birth to manyhealth issues which heavily affect the black women who reside in theselocations. For black men in these conditions, “there was no association of residential segregation withobesity,” but “among blackwomen, higher segregation was associated with higher obesity prevalence”(Kershaw). According to this statistic, the African American men are not asaffected by obesity when living in the same neighborhoods as the AfricanAmerican women; however, the women do have a higher prevalence of obesity inthis environment. Obesity is a deadly disease that can cause future healthissues. Furthermore, these neighborhoods can lead to the exposure ofmany harmful actions such as increased drug and violence rates. Intimate partnerviolence (IPV) rates are more common in black predominant neighborhoods; eventhough these rates are higher, most cases go unreported. Social pressures and stereotypes could be atfault here for the lack of reporting violence outbreaks against women.
Becauseof social stigmas, “the enduring discrimination against Black men places aresponsibility and a burden on African American women related to their decisionto call the police” (Grossman). Black women might be more fearful to call thepolice for a number of reasons. After all, “African American women need to consider that their calls forhelp to the police may result in the incarceration of the batterer and/or theirown incarceration as well as further stigmatization of Black men as inherentlyviolent” (Grossman).
They also mightbe fearful of not being able to access the help they require. All of these addressedissues come from the way society allows residential segregation to occur. It isridiculous that African American women are suffering because of residentialsegregation in modern society.
Our society needs to move past this issue tohelp end the suffering endured by many. Media is another way that society cannegatively influence African American women. The media’s portrayal of blackwomen in society is depicted in a variety of offensive ways including thestereotypical strong and angry black woman, or as subservient. Media oftendepicts black women in a negative light. Because of the media, women are generallytargeted as a whole to be sexual objects, but African American women have moreon their plate than women in other racial identities when media is involved.
Theyhave to balance the demands of both the gender driven media and their racialidentity. It can be said that “in managing their intersectional identity aswomen of color, African American women must negotiate both mainstream Americanand culture-specific norms of femininity” (Jerald). It is unjust to force blackwomen to balance these biased standards more than other women. Women in generalshould not have to face the social pressures of the media. This negativeinfluence especially impacts younger girls. When they see the advertisementsthat tell them 1) their race is inferior to others and 2) they need to striveto be consistently sexier, for this causes low self-esteem in many young blackgirls. This perspective that the media radiates steals the ambitions of youngAfrican American females and sinks their aspirations. Now even though themajority of media is a negative influence, there are some positives that havebeen created.
For example, the coverage of inspirational black women such asMichelle Obama, the first African American woman to be a first lady of theWhite House, or Oprah Winfrey, who is a phenomenal role model for black women,is a start to positive media coverage. The coverage of empowering women figureshas emitted a positive message to black women everywhere: success is possibleno matter what kind of background you come from. Also, more black actors anddirectors are starting to gain increased recognition for their work. Movie andTV casts are starting to become more inclusive when it comes to race standards.A new movie was actually just released titled Hidden Figures; the plot revolves around three African Americanwomen who are mathematicians who were employed at NASA during the time of the spacerace. They were the ones who calculated the entire launch of astronaut JohnGlenn into space, but at the time were not given very much credit. In today’smedia, a movie was made in recognition of the accomplishment these women had achieved.
This generates a more positive scene for African American girls in today’ssociety. But even with these small steps forward, there seems to always be a largesetback. Even with this progress, “the frequency of the appearance of positiveimages in mainstream media is low compared with the appearance of negativestereotype characters” (Adams-Bass). The ratio of positive images is relativelylow compared to the amount of negative content that plagues the screens of thousandsof African American women.
It is time society makes a larger push forpositivity involving media content. Overall, it has been discussed that thereare small positive changes in favor of black women, but this is stilloutweighed by the negative affects that come from being both a female who isAfrican American. There are multiple ways society can limit the outreach ofthese individuals. This ranges from income and residential areas to media coveragethroughout America.
This “double jeopardy” against black women is unfair andrequires change. Other social issues can be resolved as soon as this majorinequality against African American women is terminated. Society needs to step up its game in order tohelp make the reality that black women face every day different.