Racism and Discrimination against African Americans

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I conducted an interview with Jason Coleman who is an African American male aged 30 years old. My main focus in the interview was to understand whether he feels discriminated against or experiences racial discrimination and the impact of being treated as “other” on his life. This paper will discuss racial discrimination against African Americans, its impact, the strengths of African Americans, and ways through which they are empowered to overcome the discrimination.

African Americans have been victims of racism from their white counterparts since the colonial era when they were enslaved and considered lesser beings. Jason confessed to me that although much has been done to abolish racism in America, he feels African Americans are still treated unfairly by the whites in many aspects. Growing up, Jason says that he was called names because of his color, accent, hair, and general appearance. He confessed to me that he realized that African Americans were considered inferior while in school. He told me that black students were more likely to be punished severely by white teachers for mistakes that the white students would get away with. Jason talked to me about an instance whereby he was sent home because he went to the restroom during class time. He felt that would not have happened to a white student because they were treated better than the black students.

Jason remembers how he has had to behave in a certain way in public, so as not to be treated as a suspect. He noticed that white store-owners were more vigilant when dealing with black people compared to white people. One day, Jason forgot to close his backpack zipper while in a supermarket, as he was exiting after buying some stuff, he was stopped by a guard at the door who rudely took his bag and dropped all the things in the bag on the floor. This was embarrassing because he did it in the full glare of other shoppers. The guard also said some words that insinuated that black children cannot be trusted.

Jason also noticed that when walking in areas where he is not known in the community and whose large numbers of residents are white, they would look at him suspiciously and seem uncomfortable around him. Later on, as he got older, he discovered that African Americans are considered deprived and needy such that they are more likely to steal and be violent.

As an adult, Jason has also experienced discrimination because of his skin color and his hair. He told me about a day this year when a white woman called the police on him because he looked “suspicious” to her. Jason had gone to see his friend and because the friend was not at home at that time, he told Jason to wait for him in a park nearby. While Jason was relaxing in the park, he saw a white woman pointing at him while talking to two policemen. He did not panic because he was sure that he had not committed any offense. The police came over to where he was seated and asked him what he was doing there.

This was surprising because there is freedom of movement in America. After informing the police about his meeting with a friend, they told him that the woman called the police because he looked “suspicious”. This event revealed to Jason that African Americans are still viewed many times as suspects and viewed in a suspicious manner. Jason also told me that there are many instances in which white people have said to him, “Go back to where you came from. You don’t belong here.” He told me that this hurts him a little but he comforts himself by keeping in mind and remaining hopeful that things will improve in the future.

The Impact of Racism on Jason

There have been many negative effects of racism on Jason and other African Americans. Jason told me that growing up his self-esteem was bruised because he considered himself inferior to white people. According to Green (2017), being treated as a lesser being makes African Americans believe that they must work extremely hard to get what the white people have or attain goals that they are attaining. Also, it makes them lack self-confidence, which happened to Jason. He would fear to do certain things because they are perceived to be for white people and this made him lose some important opportunities. Another effect of racism is the anger and dislike that the oppressed start to feel against the perpetrator (Green, 2017). Jason told me that he is now trying to be a better person because for a while, he had grown to dislike white people. Due to constant abuses, taunting, jeering, negative comments and bullying from white people, Jason had developed a negative attitude towards them, in such that he does not feel entirely comfortable while dealing with them.

Racism, Jason thought, caused him to not put much effort into his education because life in school was boring and his white peers got the positive attention. Being in a school where African Americans were treated in a negative way made him not want to be there nor participate as fully as he should. Bonilla-Silva (2017) argues that racial discrimination causes hopelessness. The negative attitudes towards school made Jason not enjoy learning or study as hard as he should have in order to move on to college. Moreover, racism has caused Jason to be more cautious about whatever he is doing. He told me that he is aware that he is more likely to go to jail than a white person of the same age as him. Therefore, he tries as much as possible to stay out of trouble because a small mistake can land him in trouble and the judicial system treats African Americans harsher than whites.

Strengths of African Americans

One area of strength that blacks have is resilience. Being brought up under difficult circumstances have made them, as a people, more tolerant of problems (Marable, 2018). Also, being treated differently or discriminated against has made them become more united than ever. Whenever a fellow African American is or has been victimized they come out and support them (Marable, 2018). A good example is the protests that are starting to be held more often, whenever a black person is murdered by the police under ethnic-related reasons. This unity pays off because it makes the government and police departments more aware that African Americans are aware of their rights (Marable, 2018).

Ways of Empowering African Americans

African Americans have multiple avenues towards empowerment that can help them be stronger in their fight against racism. Education is one way through which they can be more empowered and in charge of their lives and rights. Education enlightens and empowers people (Marable, 2018). African Americans are encouraged to take education seriously because lack of education will make them more vulnerable. Being educated will make them aware of their rights, make them confident, and help them gain employment in well-paying job fields, which leads to being independent and able to voice their opinions. Another method of empowering African Americans has been teaching them about their history and ways that they can fight against discrimination. There have been many programs which have focused on educating African Americans on their history and that they do not have another home. They should continue to fight for equal rights and against unjust laws (Marable, 2018). Because knowledge is power, being aware of one’s rights enables them to fight for their freedom and equal treatment thus promote and empower their lives.

My thoughts on Discrimination against African Americans

I have read a lot about African Americans being discriminated against throughout their history in America. I was aware that nearly everything Jason has experienced happens to African Americans in America. I consider myself active in social media platforms where I can see and view videos of African Americans being discriminated against. I have also learned, throughout my lifetime, about slavery and racism in America and therefore the experiences of Jason have confirmed much of what I have been taught. I have also had firsthand knowledge of events that have happened in regards to African Americans in schools, communities and the court system in which they have been treated unfairly and not judged by the same standards as whites.


The society in which one grows up in has a lot of influence on the type of person you become when you grow up. Jason has experienced racial discrimination since his younger years and this has made a huge impact on him. He says that it has not been easy but there is hope that racism will be done away with in the future. The more it gets exposed and people are made accountable for their actions then this will help to deter others’ discriminatory actions. If the empowerment and education programs keep engaging and teaching all Americans (black and white) about our sometimes horrible history as Americans and how we have treated others then I think open dialogue and purposeful action will help bring about true change and can lead to a more united and solid America in the future.

Cite this paper

Racism and Discrimination against African Americans. (2022, Feb 12). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/racism-and-discrimination-against-african-americans/

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