Racism Can be Defined in Numerous Ways
“For centuries, racism has haunted this country in various forms and has caused inequality and unjust treatment among people of color, the poor, women, and anyone who was not a rich White man with power. Starting in the colonial era, White American men were given basic and legal human rights and privileges while these rights were denied to other races and minorities. Racism can be defined in numerous ways and comes in a plethora of forms. It can be defined as “a matter of group power; it is about a dominant racial group (whites) striving to maintain its systemic advantages and minorities fighting to subvert the racial status quo.” (Bonilla-Silva 2018,113). It comes in forms of violence, indirect actions, verbal abuse, and even laws. Some structured institutions that were approved by the U.S. government were slavery, immigration laws, internment camps, segregation, and much more; there were countless laws that were passed by the United States government which invaded human rights of those who were not classified as one hundred percent “American,” meaning those who were simply not white. Today, people continue to face structural obstacles when it comes to attaining quality healthcare, housing, employment, education, and simple human and civil rights in this country. Racism is only one part of this; sexism has been a crucial part of the discriminatory practices within society.
The term itself emerged from the 1960s and was brought about during the civil rights movement. It can be defined as a “prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender, especially against women and girls,” (Masequesmay 2019). Sexism acts to maintain patriarchy through ideological practices of collectives and organizations that oppress women. Such oppression is usually in the form of violence, economic advantage, and social domination. Racial and sexist distinctions have also imbued through the health care system in America and have sabotaged and weakened the effectiveness. Quality service depends on race, class, as well as gender; this primarily affects women. For countless years, women have suffered challenges regarding their physical health, roles in society, and interactions within the health care system. Gaining reproductive health care and basic health insurance has been a barrier for women. Women in general have a greater risk of getting diseases than men; women also have mental health issues which men cannot relate to, such as postpartum. Women of color as well as those who identify in the LGBTQ community tend to face greater health disparities than the majority of the population, as well as go through the horrors of being verbally, and even sometimes physically, abused by society, and turned away from health care facilities. The U.S. government continues to play a pivotal role in shaping reproductive policies and rights. Why should the government determine what women should do with their bodies? Why are their laws restricting women of their reproductive freedom? These laws and policies are taking away basic civil and human rights based on the social construction of race, gender, and class and are naturalizing their practices at the disadvantage of women in racial/ethnic minorities, LGBT women, and low-class women, leading to unequal treatment.
In recent years in the U.S., policies affecting reproductive rights have changed within federal and state levels. In many states today, federal law has banned the use of federal funding for numerous abortions and do not allow this unless the pregnancy was caused due to rape, incest, or in the case if a woman’s life was in danger. State legislative efforts to confine access to abortion have become the norm.”