Symbolic Racism - Free Essay Example

Published: 2023-10-10
Symbolic Racism - Free Essay Example
Essay type:  Persuasive essays
Categories:  Racism College United States Stereotypes
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1692 words
15 min read

In America, racism has become one of the leading social problems facing the government and society at large. Instances of racism are the education system and other social aspects in the country (Lo et al. 2017). Symbolic racism has brought about a gap in the education of European Americans and African Americans. The two ethnic groups have different backgrounds and originality; however, African Americans face more prejudice and racial resentment through social and political issues. Racist behaviors among the two groups continue to rise (Ramasubramanian & Martinez, 2017). Symbolic racism, therefore, is defined as expressions of symbolic behaviors or ideological symbols that African Americans violate the historical values of the whites. It is a stereotyped behavior that African Americans are morally less potent

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Symbolic racism has become a more general term, modern and indirect form of racists, which relates explicitly to highly prejudiced behaviors towards African Americans. These stereotypes and intense racism have caused the subjects to continue discriminating against African Americans and to justify these behaviors. Symbolic racism is not directly linked to race, but it is indirectly linked through political and social institutions such as policing and the education system. Different psychologists have defined symbolic racism in four terms; these are; African Americans no longer experience much discrimination or prejudice (Ramasubramanian & Martinez, 2017). Secondly, the failure of African Americans to progress as a result of an unwillingness to work as hard as whites. Thirdly, African Americans are asking too much and faster. Finally, African Americans have been given more than they deserve. This paper, therefore, describes how symbolic racism has contributed to the educational gap between African Americans and European-American students and how this gap can be reduced.

Impacts of Symbolic Racism on the Education of African-American and European-American Students

Symbolic racism has been characterized by stereotyped ideology, which presents the idea that there is no inequality based on color. This has diminished the concept of structural limitations in society affecting the mobility of a specific group of people, therefore, eliminating the legitimacy, credibility, and necessity of having programs to advocate for prejudice and discrimination in the education system for African Americans. In many research studies, European Americans who are characterized by significant behaviors of symbolic racism are found to work and reside in areas of the low population of black Americans (Ramasubramanian & Martinez, 2017). Thus European American students have less direct contact with African Americans in terms of societal functions and interracial relationships. Such an environment affects a common ground between the two groups; this establishes the identity of symbolic racism hence increasing the gap in their education.

Despite the colleges and other education institutions being one of the most tolerant, equality and liberalism marked settings; there is a rise in the level of inter-racial tensions between African American and European American students across the country. This is evident from the increasing number of dramatic inter-racial violence and the number of students from the two ethnic groups. Many cases of racist acts have been reported in USA education institutions(Lo et al. 2017). An example is the use of social media to display racism. In an online social gathering at the University of South Carolina, students from the African American association shifted from the primary role of the zoom to posting messages, videos, and images with derogatory statements and racial slurs.

African American and European American students forms micro-societies in education institutions, the increasing behaviors of symbolic racism continue to remain unresolved, thus increasing the gap between the two groups of students. Old wounds and shame are a result of historical racist events that have never been settled continue to be displayed hence affecting social interactions among students. Educational institutions have become a microscopic environment for society's tensions of color. The phenomenon of subtle and overt racism on educations systems are status of political activities. The dominant group (European American students) are highly privileged; they seek to maintain and protect their position in the society while minority groups (African Americans) who are less privileged aims to influence this dominance to raise its resources and power (Lo et al. 2017). Symbolic racism and attitudes underlie this process, and the differences in economic status and insufficient support for the minority groups contribute to the expanding gap in the education of the groups.

Symbolic racism has influenced students' choice of what college or schools they should attend. Different institutions have developed various strategies to encourage diversified cultures into a common ground. Racism continues to affect African Americans' college enrollment as compared to European Americans. With racial prejudice and discrimination on the rise, parents and students are at the watch of the university's responses to this matter. Their perceptions continue to expand the educational gap between African-American and European students in terms of enrolment and school attendance. In the American University, for example, symbolic racism are one of the critical problems facing educational progress between these ethnic groups. The school's marketing strategy is to encourage cultural diversity. However, symbolic racism has become inevitable. In the spring, 2017, European-American students hanged bananas on a rope designed into a noose; this was a sign of racial intimidation and terror against African-America students; as a result of these incidents, there was a fall in African-American students enrolling to an American universities (Lo et al. 2017). It is therefore clear that symbolic racism continues to create a gap in the education system as social aspects are used to display racist behaviors despite schools advocating for cultural diversity.

The glaring case of inequalities is one of the factors between the opportunities institutions offer to African-American students as co pared to European American students. As a result of these differential approaches and experiences, African-American students in predominantly whites institutions are less involved in extracurricular activities apart from sports. In many institutions, there is a limited concentration on African-American students on various aspects of education. The institutions and most of the European American students still believe the idea that African Americans are powerless and should be segregated because of their extremely immoral behaviors and state in society. As a result, this has contributed to an increase in the gap. Most of the leaders in the education system continue to make racial remarks resulting in a rise in symbolic racism among students, thus impacting the education of the less privileged negatively. In garage Washington University, for instance, the school president was accused of making racists remarks, which undermined African-American students (Kessi, Cornell & Ratele, 2016). Several negative statements have been considered to fuel the indirect influence of symbolic racism on the contemporary state of racism. As a result, it has continued to increase the educational gap between the two ethnic groups.

Symbolic racism in white institutions also takes a considerate form of racism where African Americans are inappropriately represented; this means that their inability to perform best in academics as compared to European Americans is motivated by racist behaviors. In many institutions, professors expect less form African Americans, and this perspective continues to influence the increasing gap in educations of the two groups. Black-Americans are students who are sidelined from mainstream activities in educational institutions that mirror European American culture. Symbolic racism remains a nutshell as the society and universities continue to accept and defend these racially-based aspects.

Interventions To Reduce The Gap

The educational institution is in itself a place of competition; students must compete for the available resources, opportunities, limited finances, and aids. As compared to European Americans, African Americans are less represented (RodrĂ­guez et al. 2017); thus, they cannot access adequate resources and social life to help improve their performance and fill the educational gap between them. Racial disparities in society at large effects education. Therefore the first intervention to reduce this gap if to advocate for anti-racial beliefs and stereotypes with the community level. Society must be the first level for intervention, parents, children, and all members of the community must be aware of the benefits of interracial activities and the need to develop a positive environment for all races.

Secondly, the educations system must be made a multicultural environment starting from an earlier stage of education. A general approach to encourage a multicultural environment in schools will not only benefit the black-Americans but all races. General interracial experiences should be encouraged in schools to combat racial differences and help all students to participate equally in academics and extracurricular activities. On the other hand, universities should promote a mix of tutors; in practical terms, the educations system should advocate for providing equal opportunities administrators and professors from different ethnic groups; this will symbolize equality and racial tolerance.

Thirdly is the attitude; teachers from the very early stage of education must consider challenging and chasing racists attitudes among students and tutors themselves. It can be achieved by introducing programs that influence interracial participation to challenge and change racist behaviors and attitudes. As a result of this move, the educational gap that exists between African-American and European students can be reduced. The intervention has long been one of the main concerns in education (Kessi, Cornell & Ratele, 2016). It is, therefore, time to further promote attitude change to combat the educational impacts of symbolic racism. The attitude that racism is a historical thing is developing false consciousness among the two ethnic groups; thus, the education must include the discipline of racism studies and realities in the US to reduce the gap.


Kelley, R. D. (2018). The black study, black struggle. Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies, 40(2).

Kessi, S., Cornell, J., & Ratele, K. (2016). Race, gender, and sexuality in student experiences of violence and resistances on a university campus. Perspectives in Education, 34(2), 97-119.

Lo, C. C., McCallum, D. M., Hughes, M., Smith, G. P., & McKnight, U. (2017). Racial differences in college students' assessments of campus race relations. Journal of College Student Development, 58(2), 247-263.

Ramasubramanian, S., & Martinez, A. R. (2017). News framing of Obama, racialized scrutiny, and symbolic racism. Howard Journal of Communications, 28(1), 36-54.

RodrĂ­guez, J., Nagda, B. R. A., Sorensen, N., & Gurin, P. (2018). Engaging race and racism for socially just intergroup relations: The impact of intergroup dialogue on college campuses in the United States. Multicultural Education Review, 10(3), 224-245.

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