Social Inequality and Minorities in the United States

Social Inequality and Minorities in the U.S.

There are many types of inequalities in our societal structural: racial, wealth, structural, economic, and social. Most of these are linked in one way or another, particularly social and economic inequality. And within social inequality lie several distinct areas such as property rights, freedom of speech, levels of health care, education, and voting rights.

Social inequality then is simply an area or areas of society where certain groups do not have equal access or equal status. Social and economic inequality are closely linked because it is often lack of financial capability that causes inequities in the other areas mentioned above. In other words, it may be strictly economic or financial factors that cause social inequalities in the area of health care or education.

The U.S. Government Dept. Of Veteran's Affairs (2009) defines a minority as "the smaller part of a group. A group within a country or state that differs in race, religion, or national origin from the dominant group." It further breaks minorities down into four specific groups: American Indian or Alaskan native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic. Other groups, such as women, are not classified as minorities, but they are considered as having "minority status" in the eyes of the law (Office of Diversity and Inclusion, 2009).


"Today, if you are born poor, you will grow up to be poor" (Arrighi, 2001, p. 3) Noting the date of this statement, one can readily see that social inequality in its economic and financial form, is alive and well in the U.S. Exceptions exist of course, but not many. And it is not as if any intelligent adult denies the existence of social inequalities as they apply to minorities. Drive through any mid-size city in the U.S. And it is evident as you pass from the estates to the slums what you are seeing. It is social inequality. and, 100% of the time who abides in the lesser areas of the city? Usually, it is the minorities -- Blacks, Hispanics, etc. It is no secret. There is no magic to it. Social inequality coexists with the minority. It has been, is and always will be the same. That is precisely what Arrighi (2001)as well as Doran (2005) and many others are saying.


That question should be answered. Why does it have to be that way? What causes social inequality? The answers are not simple; the solutions are difficult to grasp; and the reality is frustrating.

Doran (2005) says this: " inequality will continue to exist and negatively affect our society via the ascribed status of selected individuals." There is part of the why. Ascribed status, according to Doran, is "that status an individual inherits at birth, and thus has no control over" (Doran, 2005, p. 2). And the ones who maintain the "social power" hold on to it by discriminating against those of lower ascribed status.

That is not to say that social inequality does not change and progress for minority groups.

Again, we can see the progress for women, as an example, over time as their "ascribed status" changed and improved -- with a lot of hard work, frustration, and about 150 years of work. Blacks in America are better off in 2009 that they were in 1959. Financially, educationally, and socially, things have improved for them. That is true of Hispanics as well. I think all of that is general knowledge today.

However, is it that social inequality is going away and minorities no longer have to concern themselves with their ascribed status? No. What happens over time is that the inequality affects different groups at different times. and, for any particular minority group, the inequality "shifts"

but never goes away from any particular group.

Look, for example, at the history of the American native Indian, Blacks, and even Irish-Americans at different…