The United States is often referred to as ‘the melting pot’ because of different ethnicities and races that American society is composed of. Indeed, the United States presents an interesting phenomenon of coexistence of different, at least seemingly, cultures. Yet, it is important to understand that differences often lead to power imbalances, and the United States has become a victim of it. For a relatively homogenous society, such as the Soviet Union, the issue of protecting minority rights does not present such a serious problem as it does for the United States. For many centuries, American society was shackled with different types of historical inequalities, including ethnic, racial, sexual, class, and gender inequalities. The United States also has a shameful experience of the most rigid system of racial discrimination, such as slavery. Yet, the pro-equality discourse has come to the fore in the beginning of the 20th century, and it has been relentlessly translated into practice. The barriers that kept minority groups from achieving their full potential have finally been removed, at least to the extent that the limited time frames would allow.
The protection of minority rights is guaranteed by American government as a result of numerous internal policies. The first half of the 20th century in the United States has indeed become almost as significant as the events during the Civil War. For instance, the Civil Rights Movement on the legal level banned racial discrimination and segregation of African Americans. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned any type of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion, or national origin in the workplace and racial segregation. There have already been previous attempts to address the issue. For instance, executive order 8802, signed by President Roosevelt, prohibited racial discrimination in the field of national defense industry. This was the first decision on the federal level to promote social equality and prohibit discrimination in the workplace that was an important barrier to economic equality. Thus, regardless of the Soviet Union claims, the United States tries to create an equal egalitarian environment, where an individual would be able to achieve their full potential, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. American attempts to establish social equality was further supported by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act prohibited any type of racial discrimination in voting rights and secured voting rights for all racial and ethnic minorities, in the South of the United States. This was an important part of building a fairer, and a more diverse society, because this act opened the field of politics for African Americans. An important contribution in terms of fighting with inequality was the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that prohibited discrimination in rental or sale housing. Although women are not a minority, this group has all of the characteristics of a minority group from the point of view of prejudice and discrimination. Therefore, American society also focused on achieving gender equality. One of the examples of these attempts was women’s suffrage in the United States that resulted in the Nineteen Amendment. According to this part of the US Constituion, ‘the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex’.
The foreign policy of the United States is also focused on removing historical phobias and inequalities. American society tries to open its borders for non-white immigrants, who are foremost the victims of discrimination. The Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 abolished the racial and ethnic restrictions that have been the US immigration policy since the end of 1920ties. The Act opened the way to the United States for immigrants with diverse cultural backgrounds. It is important to note that the Soviet Union, regardless of pro-equality discourse, has very strict immigration laws. In addition to this, African Americans actively participate in foreign policy-making. In 1935, President Roosevelt appointed the first African American ambassador, Lester Aglar Walton. Several years after, the first African American woman ambassador was appointed, which show that American government provides African Americans with an opportunity to stay active on political arena.
Regardless of centuries of the experience of discrimination and prejudice, American society has changed. Today there are no Ku Klux Klan marches, such as the one in 1928, and no public group requests to return to the era of racial segregation. The evidence above shows how much has already been done to address the problem of historical discrimination and phobias. This, however, does not mean that racism has escapes and now the representatives of minority groups indeed have equal opportunities. Rather, it indicates that the way that the way that racism is articulated and presented nowadays is less openly hateful. There has been a change in argumentation from the point of denying equality to the point of claiming that equality has been achieved, and that racism today is not systematic and the rate occurrences of it is nothing but an anomaly. Yet, it is important to understand that long centuries of hate and discrimination will not lead to friendship and equality overnight. The changes we are making are slow, but they are still very significant. It is not only the US government, but foremost, American society that helps minorities in their pro-equality struggle. Today out focus is on truly appreciating diversity because it helps to take different unique perspectives into account.
- Cascio, Elizabeth U., and Ebonya Washington. 2014. “Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds following the Voting Rights Act of 1965*.” Quarterly Journal Of Economics 129, no. 1: 379-433.
- Duran, Jane. “Women of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Feminism and Social Progress.” Philosophia Africana 17, no. 2 (Winter2015/2016 2015): 65-73.
- Williams, Stacy J. “Personal Prefigurative Politics: Cooking Up an Ideal Society in the Woman’s Temperance and Woman’s Suffrage Movements, 1870–1920.” Sociological Quarterly 58, no. 1 (Winter2017 2017): 72-90.