Ethnic Relations and Multiculturalism

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One hundred fifty-six years have passed since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, sixty-five years since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), and fifty-five years have passed since the adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Emancipation Proclamation in essence ended slavery in the United States. Brown vs. Board of Education settled the question of separate but equal education, stating that segregation was not permissible in public education. The Civil Rights Act was instrumental in outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the United States.

These historic events should have improved the treatment of discriminated populations, however legislating away such pervasive attitudes has not been easy. This project aims to investigate if the treatment of African Americans has improved to the point that they feel they are no longer discriminated against. Specifically, has racial discrimination improved over the past 55 years towards African Americans in the United States? This may be difficult to quantify; however, this project will use peer reviewed research articles, government data regarding employment, housing, and hate crime statistics, and personal interviews in an effort to answer this question

The term discrimination has various definitions depending on the agency, organization, or person using the term. Regarding employment opportunities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, defines race discrimination as “treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Color discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion.”

Regarding housing, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 describes discrimination as refusing “to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” And regarding the most damaging form of discrimination, the FBI describes a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Using the above definitions, let us examine recent data regarding employment activity among African Americans, recent data regarding housing among African Americans, and hate crimes against African Americans. Employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and hate crimes should serve as good indicators of discrimination. An increase in these measures would likely indicate an increase in discrimination, while a decrease in these measures should signify a decrease in discrimination.

To evaluate the first indicator, discrimination in employment, we can look to data from the last 21 years provided by the EEOC. The EEOC publishes data annually regarding claims made for workplace discrimination in their Enforcement and Litigation Statistics. The average number of claims made to the EEOC in the category of race has been 30,374 over the last 21 years, with the last two years less than average. There does not seem to be an increasing or decreasing trend, as the ten years previous to that were above average, but the ten years prior to that where less than average (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 2018).

If the data are not conclusive, experimental studies regarding job interviews may provide some insight. A study entitled “The persistence of racial discrimination in hiring”, published in 2017, found that since 1989, whites receive on average 36% more callbacks than African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos.

The authors observed no change in the level of hiring discrimination against African Americans over the past 25 years, although they found modest evidence of a decline in discrimination against Latinos. Accounting for applicant education, applicant gender, study method, occupational groups, and local labor market conditions did little to alter this result. Contrary to claims of declining discrimination in American society, their estimates suggest that levels of discrimination remain largely unchanged, at least at the point of hire (Quillian, L., Pager, D., Hexel, O., Midtbøen, A.,2017).

Another similar study looked at the likelihood of receiving a call back based on the name of the applicant. This 2004 study, entitled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination”” was conducted by submitting similar resumes to companies and altering the applicant’s name to reflect African American or White heritage.

The authors found White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews. Callbacks were also more responsive to resume quality for White names than for African-American ones. The authors report that the racial gap is uniform across occupation, industry, and employer size and that differential treatment by race still appears to still be prominent in the U. S. labor market (Bertrand, M. Mullainathan, S. 2004).

Now let us look at data regarding housing among African Americans. The U.S .Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes data annually regarding cases that are referred in violation of the Fair Housing Act. This data is available online from 2016 back to 2000. An analysis of the data for these 17 years reveals that there were an average of 3,053 cases reported annually for any “Number of Filed Cases with a Race Basis”, with an average of 2,543 of these cases reported as “Number of Filed Cases with a Black or African-American Race Basis”. That means that on average, 83% of all cases filed for racial housing discrimination were due to Black heritage (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2019).

The 2012 version of the annual study published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses paired testing to measure discrimination in the search for housing among minority home seekers versus white home seekers. Paired testing has a prospective home seeker of various ethnicities enquire about properties in the same neighborhoods and report on their findings. These prospective home seekers pose with similar financial backgrounds, with only their race as a variable.

This report found that for 2012, Black renters who contacted agents about recently advertised housing units learned about 11.4 percent fewer available units than equally qualified whites and were shown 4.2 percent fewer units. And for those that were purchasing a home, Black homebuyers who contacted agents about recently advertised homes for sale learned about 17.0 percent fewer available homes than equally qualified whites and were shown 17.7 percent fewer homes (Turner, M., Levy, D., Wissoker, D., Aranda, C., Pitingolo, R., Santos, R., 2013).

Thirdly, let us look at hate crimes against African Americans. As stated previously, hate crimes are defined by the FBI as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” The FBI publishes an annual report entitled “Hate Crime Statistics” and the 2017 data was released in 2018.

An analysis of data for victims of single-bias hate crime incidents showed that 59.6 percent of the victims were targeted because of the offenders’ bias against race, ethnicity, or ancestry. Of the reported 5,060 single–bias hate crimes victims, 48.6 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Black or African American bias. This pales in comparison to the 17.1 percent that were victims of anti-White bias (U.S. Department of Justice-Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2018).

The above reviewed data and studies reflect important areas to consider when discussing racial discrimination. The areas of employment, housing, and hate crimes provide insight into the nationwide effects of racial discrimination. However, what about the individual? Does an individual here in Mesa, Arizona have similar experiences? Two personal interviews were conducted to find the effects of discrimination, one an African American male and one a female of both White and African American decent. Their names will remain anonymous, with the male know by his initials BW, and the female by her initials, MM. Both interviewees answered the same questions to gain insight into their experience as a member of the African American ethnic group.

BW is a middle aged African American that works at Banner Baywood Medical C,enter as a Radiologic Technologist aide. He currently lives with his White girlfriend and has three adult sons from previous relationships. His family has been in the Phoenix valley for multiple generations. He sat down to be interviewed two weeks ago.


He couldn’t answer.

What experiences of discrimination have you had, if any?

Well I work in the medical field and older white people calling me “boy” or other things that are racially driven. A white man told me that my mother should have kept her placenta and threw my black ass away.

What are some of the social issues that have impacts on people from your racial/ethnic minority group, in your opinion?

Social issues like walking in a store and being followed, like being pulled over by a cop and asked to keep my hands on the steering wheel, like do I have drugs or a weapon on me. There are so many issues being a black man in this country.

MM is a 23 year old recent college graduate of ASU with a degree in journalism. She has been a part of our extended family for over 8 years and was willing to be interviewed at a softball game recently. She is single and pursuing a career in media. She currently works at a local charity helping to pack and ship food to impoverished countries.

Two come to mind. I went to a party in high school and was asked by the host’s mom who the other Black kid there was. It was my brother. The mom wouldn’t believe it was my brother, who is darker than me. She told me to keep an eye on him because he “looks like trouble”. The other experience is more recent. As I was completing an internship I had my hair in a bun. The lady leading the internship told me I had my hair back too tight. I told her I had it back because I had it recently straightened, that otherwise I usually wear it as an afro. She said I was trying to be “White”.

The above cited studies and data help support the argument that racial discrimination still exists in American society today. This is even more evident when conducting personal interviews. Racial discrimination is still felt by African Americans here in the United States in 2019, both male and female, both young and middle aged. Inter-racial relationships have not changed to the point that there is a color-blindness between Whites and African Americans. Housing, employment, and hate crime data support this theory. However, improvements have been made.

Slavery as an institution has been abolished. Segregation of the educational system is no longer a policy. And African Americans enjoy the same rights and freedoms as others due to the Civil Rights Act. However, attitudes are difficult to change. As CW expressed in his interview, “A positive experience is treating people with respect and them telling me that I changed the way they see things about my race.” It is only through continued mutual respect and understanding that the answer to the question “has the treatment of African Americans improved to the point that they feel they are no longer discriminated against?” will be able to be answered in the affirmative.


  1. Bertrand, M., Mullainathan, S. 2004. “”Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.”” American Economic Review, 94 (4): 991-1013. DOI: 10.1257/0002828042002561
  2. Fair Housing Act. Sec. 801. [42 U.S.C. 3601]
  3. Mosley, M. (2019, April 23). Personal interview.
  4. Quillian, L. Pager, D. Hexel, O. Midtbøen, A. H. 2017. The persistence of racial discrimination in hiring. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 201706255; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1706255114
  5. Turner, M. A. Levy, D. Wissoker, D. Aranda, C. Pitingolo, R. Santos, R. 2013. Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorites 2012. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Washington DC
  6. U.S. Department of Justice-Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2018. Hate Crime Statistics 2017. Washington DC. Retrieved from
  7. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2019. Fair Housing Act Cases Filed by Year and State with the Bases and Outcomes – 2000-2013. Washington DC. Retrieved from
  8. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 2018. Charge Statistics (Charges filed with EEOC) FY 1997 Through FY 2017. Retrieved from
  9. Woods, B. (2019, April 15). Personal interview.
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