America is the Least Racist Country in the
The history of the United States is full of ruthless displacement
of native populations and the systematic enslavement of people of the African
continent, but since World War II, there has been a continuous and largely
successful effort by various governmental, private and grass-root
organizations to end the racial inequities – so much so that today’s
America may be called the least racist society on earth.
The American dream now extends to all races. As examples of
Oprah Winfrey, Dr. David Ho and Colin Powell show, those with talents and
dedication in their selected field can rise to the top – irrespective of
their ethnic background.
Minority groups have not been equally successful in all
fields. This leads to the perception that playing field is still not level.
When about 80% of athletes in sports like football and basketball are black,
no one claims that selection process is tilted against whites. Rather, there
is a growing consensus that blacks simply have more inborn talent in these
professions. Could it just be possible that whites have more innate ability
in some other areas where achievements of non-whites are sub-par?
Or, does the white majority in this country prevent other
ethnic groups from succeeding to their fullest potential? If this were the
case, then in those lands where there are no whites to suppress them, these
ethnic groups would show higher degree of attainment.
This is hardly the case. Blacks here do much better than
they do in any African or Caribbean countries. Likewise, people of India (my
native country) fare substantially better here than they do in their
homeland. The same can be said about Iranians, Chinese, Mexicans, etc, etc.
In fact, people of any ethnic or national background do as good, and usually
far better, here than they do in their country of origin. An exception is
hard to think. What discrimination? What racism?
The people of Third World countries, who are invariably
non-whites, risk their life-savings and sometimes even their lives to come
to the shores of America. Would they be coming here so eagerly if this
nation did not offer equal opportunities to all, regardless of the racial
If there are more incidences of racial conflict in this
country than in others, it is solely because United States is the most
racially diverse nation on earth. (Most countries in the world are
mono-ethnic, masking the racial biases of their people.) Racist criminal
activities of a few individuals -- at the extreme fringes of the U.S. society
-- can not be totally eradicated, any more than any other crime, but such
acts must be swiftly punished – and so they are in today’s America.
There are probably still a few remnants of old-fashioned
institutionalized racism, but when these places are exposed, they become
national news – and face heavy penalty through class-action lawsuits and/or
federal fines. Motivation is so strong that prejudicial policies of the past
are going the way of dinosaurs.
This is not to say that America is on the verge of being
free of racism. On a personal level, many racist attitudes persist because our
expectations are based on past outcomes. Imagine a landlord whose last three
evictions were tenants of the same ethnic group. It is all but natural for
her/him to develop some prejudices against the people of that background.
Thus, sometimes it is the responsibility of minority groups to break from
the mold of negative stereotypical behavior. (That landlord, by the way,
could use a tenant-history-reporting agency to spot creditworthy person of
any racial background.)
Only with time, as more of more people of differing
ethnicity prove themselves in diverse fields and forge positive images, will
detrimental racial profiling go away. The current social atmosphere in this
country certainly offers opportunities to any one, regardless of that
person’s social origins or racial makeup, to succeed and prosper, as long as
that person has some ability in the chosen field and is willing to work hard
Will there be a day when a society – American or
otherwise – will be completely free of racism? Perhaps not. Racism may be
compared to the inflation; it will never totally go away, but should be kept
© 2000 Ajay K. Kulshreshtha