A reflection on the position of minorities and discrimination against them in our society

Reflections On Racism and Discrimination Currently, in both the international system and the inter-American system for the protection of human rights, there are instruments which emphasize the obligation of States to guarantee the observance of the rights of all human beings, without distinction as to race, gender, religion or political stance.

A reflection on the position of minorities and discrimination against them in our society

Further, they are relatively lacking in power and hence are subjected to certain exclusions, discriminations, and other differential treatment. The important elements in this definition are a set of attitudes—those of group identification from within the group and those of prejudice from without—and a set of behaviors—those of self-segregation from within the group and those of discrimination and exclusion from without.

At least two defects make this simple definition useless.

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People of different races, nationalities, religions, or languages can live among one another for generations, amalgamating and assimilating or not doing so, without differentiating themselves. Like everything else that is social, minority groups must be socially defined as minority groups, which entails a set of attitudes and behaviors.

Second, relative numbers in and out of the group have not been found to be definitionally important. Sociologically speaking, it makes no sense to say that Negroes are not a minority group in those few counties of Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina where they constitute a numerical majority of the population, but that they are a minority group in the rest of the South.

Likewise, even though the Bantus constitute around 80 per cent of the population of South Africasociologists have defined them as a minority group because they occupy a subordinate position. Origins of national minorities. In some cases the minority groups ceased altogether to occupy their original territories and were dispersed throughout the nation of which they were now subjects.

More often they stayed in the same place but in a subordinate position, since the dominant political and economic institutions were now run mainly for the benefit of the larger national group.

The latter usually enacted laws to regulate the political existence of the minorities; for instance, they might have to send their own community leaders to the national assembly instead of being able to vote individually for candidates in a national election. Even the areas in which they could live or the occupations they could pursue might be determined by law; at the least, the dominant nationality regarded them with suspicion, as the Czechs were regarded under the Austro—Hungarian Empire.

A minority need not be a traditional group with a long-standing group identification. It can arise as a result of changing social definitions in a process of economic or political differentiation. The increasing saliency of a certain occupation, for example, can set apart the people who practice that occupation, if occupations are more or less hereditary in the society, and cause them to be considered a minority group.

Language or religious variations in a society can be considered unimportant for thousands of years, but a series of political events can so sharpen the religious or linguistic distinctions that the followers of one variation who happen to be without much power in the society are thereafter considered a minority.

Poverty And Human Rights: Reflections On Racism and Discrimination | UN Chronicle

These processes can be illustrated by developments in India. The Marwaris, allegedly originating in Rajasthan, were until the late eighteenth century merely another occupational caste among the thousands of castes that make up India.

A reflection on the position of minorities and discrimination against them in our society

They were moneylenders and small merchants, who were of no greater importance in the social structure than any other occupational caste until the rise of capitalism gave a great new importance to their economic functions.

The new economic salience of the hereditary occupation created a salience for the people who practiced the occupation and made them into a despised, feared, and envied minority. The process was aided by the increased geographic dispersion of the group caused by a broader demand for their occupational services.

Language differentiation based on geographic dispersal has been going on in India since time immemorial within two great language stocks, the Dravidian of southern India and the Indo-Aryan of northern India.

A reflection on the position of minorities and discrimination against them in our society

The differentiation of Dravidian into Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada and several dozen lesser languages was not marked by definite historical events any more than was the differentiation of Latin into Italian, French, Spanish, and Rumanian. The modern development of political boundaries, which occurred at first under the British for administrative convenience and, afterunder the independent government of India, made language a salient basis of differentiation because the political boundaries were drawn as closely as possible to language boundary lines.

Thus, it has been largely within the past few decades that language has become one of the most distinctive marks of a minority in India, and the basis of considerable group conflict. Moreover, there is no single nationality group in the United States that either forms a numerical majority or enjoys a de facto political dominance; this state of affairs has existed at least since The crucial factor would appear to be the degree to which any group has been allowed to become assimilated into the mainstream of American life and to enjoy the same opportunities as the majority of Americans.

Most immigrant nationality groups suffered some discrimination during their early years in the country but were later assimilated.

Racial groups are distinguished from each other by their possession of certain physical features inherited as the result of endogamy over a long period. Few races, however, are biologically pure, nor do most people use strictly biological criteria in deciding that a person belongs to one racial group rather than another.

Minorities

The principal nationality groups in the United States came originally from Europe and, in spite of some admixture from other races, can plausibly regard themselves as having a common racial ancestry.

It is not race, therefore, but culture—and the history of each culture—that provides the most salient distinctions between them. Immigrants of the second and third generations generally adopt English as their major or only language and assimilate their values and manners—at least in the more socially visible aspects of their behavior—to those of the majority.

The major exceptions to this are those groups—such as the Scandinavians of Wisconsin and Minnesota—that have remained in isolated rural areas, having little contact with the dominant American culture and therefore being under no pressure to assimilate themselves.

Their status as national minorities is not the result of discrimination and prejudice on the part of the majority but of deliberate choice or sheer lack of opportunity. It cannot be said, however, that they surfer from their minority status, since they enjoy the full privileges of American citizenship and are not compelled to maintain their traditional way of life or to inhabit any particular territory.Poverty And Human Rights: Reflections On Racism and Discrimination.

Currently, in both the international system and the inter-American system for the protection of human rights, there are instruments which emphasize the obligation of States to guarantee the observance of the rights of all human beings, without distinction as to race, gender, religion or political stance.

In the same period, during consultations preparatory to the World Conference Against Racism, my staff and I have been privileged to hear the concerns of many Australians about racism in our society and to receive many invaluable proposals which aim to eliminate it and protect its victims.

Discrimination affects members of a society in many different ways, most of them negatively. For people who are being discriminated against, their quality of life and most likely their self-esteem suffer greatly. People who discriminate against others run the risk of having legal proceedings brought.

One's socially defined unchangeable position in a society based on such arbitrary factors as age/sex/race/ family backgrounds • One of the five features provide helpful guidelines when discussing racial and ethnic minorities, this characteristics do no apply to other types of minority groups, such as the aged, disabled, gays, or women.

In this unequal social system, there is often unfair treatment directed against certain individuals or social groups. This is referred to as discrimination. Discrimination can be based on many different characteristics—age, gender, weight, ethnicity, religion, or .

Poverty And Human Rights: Reflections On Racism and Discrimination. Currently, in both the international system and the inter-American system for the protection of human rights, there are instruments which emphasize the obligation of States to guarantee the observance of the rights of all human beings, without distinction as to race, gender, .

Poverty And Human Rights: Reflections On Racism and Discrimination | UN Chronicle