America is the Least Racist Country in the World

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 background?


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 and persevere.


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 at minimum.



© 2000 Ajay K. Kulshreshtha