Race a Problem for the Law





Race a Problem for the Law

Even in the most virtuous human being, it is inherent to be partial towards familiar people and suspicious of strangers. Innocent three-year-old infants prefer the company of people of their own race (Better 57). Unchecked this primordial characteristic becomes a collective process; the disdain and impartiality becomes institutionalized. As race is an epithet of identity, people with different races face an uphill task in upholding the principles of human equality during their day-to-day interactions. It follows that values do not occur innately in the world should be guided by the law, which is impartial as it does not subscribe to any demographic divide. In an increasingly heterogeneous society, the need for law to prevail to ensure equitable access to the socio-economic stratum is of essence (Better 60). In order to deal with the race issue, the law must resound with the underlying natural rights of human equality. The law should be used to curb the spread of racism in modern society.

Unless the law is founded on a just premise, it will be a tool to propagate racism. In the Merchant of Venice Shylock having been a victim racial discrimination uses provisions of the law to exert his revenge against his arch nemesis Antonio (Shakespeare 1.3.9). Antonio epitomized the racism Jews in Elizabethan society faced. The law that ought to protect can be leveraged to obliterate opponents legally even when it is contrary to human rights. Shylock hoaxes Antonio to enter a legally binding contract with him (Shakespeare 1.3.19). Shylock’s insistence on getting a bound of flesh even when offered thrice the wager reveals he had an ulterior motive from the onset. He stands firm that he would show no mercy as none had been accorded to him. Individuals in the society try to appeal to one’s humanity only when they are the afflicted party and rarely reciprocate when they are better positioned. Majority normally do not even consider the offended party as human. In the contemporary society, individuals will similarly find loopholes to practice discrimination within the confines of the law. Likewise, the aggrieved will pursue either justice or reprisal within the same legislation (Better 34). A disparity between definitions of the law and justice arise. Justice emanates not only from law but also from ethics. It follows that not all laws are just. To remedy this legal conundrum, a multifaceted approach towards justice must be taken.

The law must provide check and balances for peoples’ inadvertent racial discrimination. Modern society has to be alive to the fact that racism is masquerading as the religious neighbor. Racism is no longer the overt Ku Klux Klan type rather it is the subconscious racial bias. Perpetrators of racial discrimination are not necessarily malicious and they may not be aware of their actions. When an interview is awarded to Clinton rather than Shaq’uille against the latter’s better credentials, the panelists rarely consider themselves as racists; people consistently decline to admit prejudice. Either everyone has been a victim or a perpetrator of subliminal racism; even when married to a different race it does not put a person above racial profiling (Better 64). The implications of this knowledge are that justice will remain a utopian dream for victims of racial discrimination unless the implicit bias in members of the judicial and legislative organs is combated. Though the law in itself is impartial, the enforcers translate their individual bias in its application. The law should be such that it alerts its enforcers when they are being unjust hence they will not be able to feign ignorance. The function of affirmative action programs is to use the law to correct historical injustices in regards to socio-economic equity. The evidence that racism is as virile as ever is the amount of opposition the programs are facing. The goal is not to exacerbate reprehension but to encourage people to take onus for their misdeeds and the law should be in the forefront to this end. Legislative tenets that protect individual prerogatives from institutionalized racial discrimination should be established.

As institutional racism is not fully in the purview of the constitutional law, individual organizations should enact policies that supplement efforts to eradicate it. Albeit the law condemns and to that effect curtails overt racism, institutionalized racism is unrestrained (Pettus 43). Institutional racism affects how an organization’s employees are treated in their respective capacities and how services to consumers are provided. In order to achieve sustainable change, the goodwill towards transforming the country’s institutions must permeate to the grassroots. The exemplar of institutional racism that has received widespread media coverage is in biased criminal convictions. However, it is not limited to the police institution. The media itself has been vital is augmenting the longevity of negative stereotypes towards the racial minorities (Pettus 56). Apart from schools in black neighbor hoods being under-funded, the education system teaches students with analogies familiar only to whites leading to failure of colored students. In turn, this is used as a justification to selective employment practices as colored individuals are deemed unintelligent. Lack of a good job makes them ineligible for mortgage loans. Reforms should cut across all the institutions. Where goodwill is not a sufficient motivator for change, the law should nudge them in the right direction. Incessant research on institutional racism is being done. Their findings and recommendations are critical in creation of legislative provisions that will hold subversive institutions to account (Pettus 76). Institutionalized racism is today’s greatest usurper of human rights. This is ironical especially when a person of color is in the echelon of power. It seems that once in power it is in one’s best interests to maintain the status quo. In his defense, the upheaval of this deep-rooted injustice cannot happen overnight. People should appreciate every step in the right direction.

The importance of the law in impeding the spread of racism should not be underestimated. Though its reach may be limited, it should hold accountable those within its ability. The change forced or voluntary will trickle down to the foundations of society. In the past, the law has been used to further racist agendas negating its essence. During legislation of laws pertaining to race or otherwise, justice is a criterion that must be upheld. The definition of justice used should not contravene people’s natural rights. Individual institutions should add to government overall efforts to stop racism. People should be sensitized on their natural tendencies of being biased. It will help them be more conscious of the repercussions of their actions towards others. Change is gradual people should accept this fact and celebrate every positive achievement however trivial. Ultimately, the onus remains with the law to trigger this necessary change.


Works Cited

Better, Shirley J. Institutional Racism: A Primer on Theory and Strategies for Social Change. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008. Print.

Pettus, Katherine I. Felony Disenfranchisement in America: Historical Origins, Institutional Racism, and Modern Consequences. New York: LFB Scholarly Pub. LLC, 2005. Web. December 10, 2014.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. London: Printed for T. Witford, 1769. Web. December 10, 2014.

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