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Unconscious Racism and Discrimination in America

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America has a fascinating history of race relations. On one hand, America's commitment to multiculturalism has led to the creation of an incredibly diverse population that is capable of interacting in positive and negative ways. This sample essay provides a detailed look at the subject and offers an example of the features available at Ultius custom writing services.

Defining unconscious racism

In America’s early history, the white population was the majority and they often discriminated against minorities. As a past specific, black people had to contend with slavery and segregation. Nowadays, slavery is illegal and affirmative action and equal opportunity allows minorities to gain meaningful employment and have access to education. In the past, they might not have been able to.

Racial ideology may have evolved, but racism continues to affect minorities across the country. In addition, racism does not only affect minorities who were born in the United States. Currently, legal and illegal immigrants have their own racism to struggle with. Anti-discrimination advocates and civil rights libertarians would like to believe that the United States has progressed from racist aesthetics; however, racism is still relevant and, in a way, more dangerous because it is an unconscious racism against darker skin tones that continues to survive.

Judging other races without thinking

While most people understand aesthetics to be something pleasing to the eye, such as beautiful art, social sciences equate aesthetics to judgments. When we hold judgments of others, we usually base them on our past experiences or upbringings. In order to offer empirical evidence, we have to provide what others can see, hear, smell, or taste; however, in the case of unconscious racism, attitudes react to certain minority attributes such as skin color. In that case, some people will judge others according to their skin tone because that is the only empirical data they have.

Subsequently, white and racist aesthetics are still influential in American popular culture because many people are predisposed to their own moral judgments and base their opinions on skin tones. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva,

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, the author of “The Central Frames of Color-Blind Racism,” agrees that “people of color still experience systematic discrimination and remain appreciably behind whites in many important areas of life” (20).

In other words, over the years, whites have formulated their own moral judgments in regards to minorities. At the same time, whites do not necessarily believe they are exhibiting acts of racism because they believe they have become ‘color-blind.’

Bonilla-Silva notes that “Color-blind racism is racism without racists” (29).

Color-blind racism and the new racial ideology

Essentially, when one is color-blind, he or she claims that skin colors are irrelevant. Furthermore, color-blind racism is unconscious, so whites may suggest that minorities do not have the same opportunities because of their lack of actions. This is a common belief in racial attitudes and discrimination regarding Affirmative Action.

However, if people demonstrate racist attitudes unknowingly, they will unwittingly pass on their attitudes to their future generations. Thus, unconscious color-blind racism is dangerous because it will continue to grow alongside each new generation.

Since whites are generally unaware that they are color-blind, the majority continues to downplay race and emphasize achievements when they argue against affirmative action and equal opportunity.

At one point, Bonilla-Silva asked his respondents if they considered affirmative action wrong, and he explains that “DAS [Detroit Area Study] respondents were as adamant as [college] students in arguing that it is not the government’s business to remedy racial problems” (34).

Essentially, the respondents may have thought affirmative action was wrong, but they seemed unable to prove it. Instead, they blamed it on the government’s actions, and in that way, they took away the subject of skin color. In addition, they suggested that the government did not take into consideration a minority’s achievements but his or her skin color.

Impact government actions have on unconscious racism

Certainly, we can consider the consequences of the government’s actions in regards to Affirmative Action as empirical evidence. On the other hand, individuals, unless they are government officials, do not have inside knowledge, so they cannot claim the government’s actions as proof.

Essentially, Bonilla-Silva reminds us that equal opportunity and “affirmative-action policies…supposedly represent the ‘preferential treatment’ of certain groups” (28), so whites consider themselves outside of those “certain groups” because they do not have the same skin color.

At the same time, it is that supposed preferential treatment that has given a negative connotation to programs that were meant to help others. In actuality, it can be a white person or a racist person’s undeniable proof that we are supposed to demonstrate racial preferences.

For what it is worth, according to Dowell Myers, author of “The Political Lag during the Demographic Transition,” California politicians hold an anti-racist aesthetic.

For example, “California is being heralded as a majority-minority state where politicians know that electoral success requires building broad-based multiethnic support” (123-4).

Thus, as the minority population grows, so does its community of voters. Politicians are focusing on removing racism as part of their political agenda and to win support from minority voters. However, with the election of a black president, perhaps minorities have additional incentive to vote. While skin color does not dictate one’s political preference, it may be a sign that anybody, regardless of skin color, can obtain outstanding achievements

Government changes and minority population boom

Even though whites remain a majority of the population, the current growth of minorities suggests that, as years go by, their numbers will increase. Therefore, it is in the politician’s best interest to cater to this particular demographic.

Consequently, “67.4 percent of white voters” believed “population growth to be ‘a bad thing’ (134).

On the other hand, whites were not the only race to determine rapid population as a negative. However, minorities were not nearly as opposed.

Specifically, Myers found that “in 2004, Latino and Asian voters were at least 21 percent less likely than whites to believe that immigrants posed a burden” (137).

Because Latinos and Asians usually have a distinctive skin tone, perhaps they are more inclined to have sympathy for those who do too.


Ultimately, skin tones are empirical evidence.

Alejandro Portes and Rubén G. Rumbaut explain that “A well-established sociological principle holds that the more similar new minorities are in terms of physical appearance…the more favorable their reception and the more rapid their integration” (47).

As immigrants make their way into the United States, they will find that many natural citizens will judge them by their skin tones.

Essentially, “the darker a person’s skin is, the greater is the social distance” (Portes, Alejandro and Rubén G. Rumbaut 47).

At the same time, their suggestion also provides proof that perhaps it is in our unconscious nature to stay amongst those who look like us. As an example, at times, neighborhoods are either predominantly white, black, or Latino. Our choice of neighborhoods may further provide empirical evidence that unconscious racism is not reserved for white people, but each separate ethnic or cultural group is equally guilty.

Racism has increased in the U.S., and unconscious racism seems to be inherent. While some ethnic groups are more susceptible, it would be inaccurate to claim only white people are racist. Because we rely on our senses to determine right from wrong, we may unknowingly rely on physical appearances. In essence to claim to be color-blind is an admittance of unconscious racism because we admit color is the essential component.

In that way, white and racist aesthetics will continue to influence American popular culture, and minorities will continue to respond with their own type of racism. While neither party is wrong or right, it will continue to grow with each generation. Granted, the United States will not repeat past mistakes such as slavery or segregation, but there is no guarantee individual members of society will discontinue unconscious racism.

Works Cited

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. "The Central Frames of Color-Blind Racism." Racism without Racists: Color-blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. 29-52. Print.

Myers, Dowell. "The Political Lag During the Demographic Transition." Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007. 123-50. Print.

Portes, Alejandro and Rubén G. Rumbaut . "Not Everyone Is Chosen: Segmented Assimilation and Its Determinants." Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation. Berkeley: University of California, 2001. 45-69. Print.



Ultius, Inc. "Unconscious Racism and Discrimination in America." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 29 May. 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/unconscious-racism-and-discrimination-in-america.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2014, May 29). Unconscious Racism and Discrimination in America. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/unconscious-racism-and-discrimination-in-america.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Unconscious Racism and Discrimination in America." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. May 29, 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/unconscious-racism-and-discrimination-in-america.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Unconscious Racism and Discrimination in America." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. May 29, 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/unconscious-racism-and-discrimination-in-america.html.

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