Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

Introduction to Part Two

IN THE first part of this book, we observed that a minority group was defined in the United States by the existence of discrimination or deprivations against its members because of their affiliation with a distinguishable group, and by a sense of belonging to a group on the part of the minority members themselves. In this part we shall consider the kinds of discrimination that minority groups in the United States face, reserving for the next part the attitudes and reactions of minority group members toward their status.

A convenient classification of discriminations is that which distinguishes economic, political, legal, and social types. These categories are only abstract types, for in any one actual case of discrimination several of the categories might apply. For example, if a Negro should be kept out of a technical college because he is Negro, he would face economic handicaps by virtue of his not getting the training to secure the job for which he has the required natural ability and interest; he would face social discrimination by being kept from contact with people of the same age, interest, and background; he would face legal discrimination because there would be a violation of the constitutional provision that equal public facilities be available to all. The various minority groups meet these kinds of discrimination in different degree. Jews face primarily social discrimination, whereas Catholics face primarily political discrimination. Negroes experience all four kinds of discrimination in the South, but mainly the economic and social varieties in the North. Some of the specific discriminations faced by minorities can be categorized only with difficulty under any one of the four rubrics: For example, a Negro in the South, in conversation with a white man, is forced to punctuate his conversation at frequent intervals with the word "Sir." We classify this custom as a social discrimination only because it creates barriers to the communication between the races. Despite these

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