Each and every individual in the society is entitled to have equal access to opportunities, regardless of one’s race, class or gender. The society should be built in such a way that the life we tread on is level for everyone so that we can all achieve the desired qualities to compete fairly amongst ourselves without some people having an upper hand in the developmental progress. However, the general outlook of most of the societies we have lived has clearly shown that equality has not been a mean task to achieve. Therefore, the underlying character of life in the society has been inequality… inequality…, and inequality everywhere. The advent of inequity has indeed been pushed to a significant high level by the prospect of racism, especially in the American society. In this analysis therefore, we will indulge into the analysis of works that thematically narrow into the perspective of education and income inequalities and how these two manifest themselves from the angle of race, class and gender.
Race and Racism: A Critical Approach by Tanya Maria Galash-Boza
Chapter 6: Educational Inequality
In ‘Educational Inequality’, the author outlines the historical and current inequality situation of evidenced in the education sector in the United States. This chapter tries to showcase the progress that has been made in the education sector to achieve equilibrium in the provision of this precious asset (education).
In summary the United States is renowned for its policy of democracy, the principle that equality should be practiced at all times and hence the aspect of providing equal educational opportunities is a goal that all stakeholders in the sector would strive to achieve (p. 141). The author provides a description of how the Whites, more so before the decision made in the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), got outright privileges to attend schools while the other ethnic affiliations were denied the chance to get educated. In the least of cases, that opportunity to learn was allowed, but was poorly educated, owing to the implementation of school segregation which meant they learnt in gravely under resourced schools’ (p. 142). With the racial segregation in place, it was imminent that the educational services or opportunities were favorable biased to the Whites.
The disadvantaged groups have strived in their own ways to ensure their children go to school, with the African Americans forming Community-based schools (p. 142), landmark cases going their way especially the 1954 ruling (p. 145). The author also states that steps have been made to ensure that the provision of education to all the ethnic groups in America is made as equal as possible. This was evident by the introduction of the affirmative action for university education (1968). The legal segregation is a thing of the past nowadays, as the gaping disparities in the education achievement between the Whites and other ethnic groups have reduced amazingly (p. 151). In fact, as the author finds, the Asian student s are increasingly outdoing all other ethnic groups in school completion rates.
From this, it is my analysis that the inequality in the provision of opportunities to learn still continues even in the modern times, and as the author categorically states, “the educational achievement in the United States vary by racial or ethnic group.” (p. 150). In addition to the segregation of schools (144), the author opines that educational inequality has persisted in the modern times by other factors as parental socioeconomic status (153), the theory of “Acting White” (154), tracking (155) as well as the aspect of hidden curriculum (160).
In my opinion, I would therefore state that the author has sufficiently showcased how the educational inequality has been in the United State as early as during the slavery period, giving reasons as to why it still exists even with the huge efforts that have been made to diminish the gap between the whites and other ethnic groups in terms of educational achievement. There need to been abject laws and regulation with strict implementation to ensure that the educational equality is achieved in the United States.
I would conclude that the educational inequality in the United States has been as result of the societal and cultural structures that have been bred in the society, which means that the whites, who are historically in higher status than others, will always be at an advantageous position to access education.
Chapter 7: Income and Labor Market Inequality
In this chapter, the author showcases how the Whites are preferred in the labor market as well as the income given in return for the offered labor.
The chapter can be summarized to reflect that the income in United States is determined by the aspect of race, ethnicity and gender, even when the individuals under consideration have the same “…experience, education, skills, years on the job, and productivity” (p. 166). In general terms, the inequalities evidenced in the United States in terms of income can be directed to the issues of unemployment proportion, promotion and the stability of employment among the different ethnic groups. In terms of gender, the disparity in income and labor market suggests that more White women are likely to enter the labor market and will definitely earn more than the black women ever will (p. 170). The fact that black individuals have averagely lower educational achievement, they will tend to be disadvantaged as they will have low valued skills as compared to their white counterparts (172). The author confirms that indeed racial discrimination is a hinder to one getting a “…job, promotion or rise” (p. 183). He also opines that the change experienced by the economy from basically a manufacturing to a service-based economy greatly affected the Black working class people while the Whites prospered despite the deviation in the economy (p. 184).
In simple terms, this chapter can be analyzed as a logical description of the ways why the White population is privileged in the achievement of labor opportunities and income. The author has satisfied the objective of the chapter, which was to describe the dimension of income inequality in terms of race, ethnicity and gender. The author has also chose to highlight the steps to reduce inequality in income and labor, showing how affirmative action (187) and the individual choices of entrepreneurship and self-employment (189) as means to achieve the “American Dream” (p. 189).
In conclusion, this chapter has realized that the aspect of racial discrimination is a hindrance to the achievement of fair income and opportunities in the labor markets between the Whites and other races. He shows that it is a difficult task to legislate against discriminatory activities as the racial veins runs deep within individuals. He is however of the idea that in the future, the governments can try to insert more programs into the society to aid in diminishing the discriminatory factors that promote disparities in the income and labor market.
Can Education Eliminate Race, Class, and Gender Inequality? By Mickelson and Smith
Mickelson and Smith in this article brings into focus the importance of education as an important aspect that need to be given more attention if we are to achieve an equality access to opportunities, and this should be done, according to the authors, to all people in the society regardless of the race, class or gender.
The work, in summary, paints education as the “meal ticket” (p. 361), a master key that will enable all the disadvantaged groups to be at par with other individuals or groups who are historically more privileged than them (362). For several decades now, especially since the early 1950s, there have been tremendous efforts made to ensure that the inequality according to race is a long forgotten issue in the provision of education policies. Mickelson and Smith have outlined school desegregation (363) and Tide IX (365) as the most important implementations that have been effected to try and minimize inequality. The work also finds that with better education, income equality can be achieved as all the races will have the same level so skills having gone through the same education system and the same school level. This will therefore make sure that the earnings, promotion and job opportunities are equal to all genders, races and classes (366). Education therefore levels all the obstacles that will interfere with the access to opportunities to all individuals. As the authors puts it:
If life is a game, the playing field must be level; if
life is a race, the starting line must be in the same place for everyone. For the
playing field to be level, many believe education is crucial because it gives
individuals the wherewithal to compete in the allegedly meritocratic system,
…America, then, equality is really understood to mean equality of opportunity
which itself hinges on equality of educational opportunity (p. 369).
The differences in the processes and outcomes of socioeconomic achievement in the society can thus be minimized by education. The analysis of the article shows that the objective of the work was not entirely achieved by the authors. As they admit, the reforms that are put into the education sector can only achieve equality or reduce it in bit parts (366). It is however important to note that education is necessary for any democracy to survive. In my opinion, education is just but a key to ease the access to opportunities which need other factors like laws and legislations to open the doors of equality in access, so as to defeat the inequality that has been hinged upon the factors of race, class and gender.
In conclusion, this work by Mickelson and Smith truly shows the understanding and importance of education that also needs individual commitment to paralyze barriers to equality in the provision of opportunities and resources.