Taari Coleman | Correspondent
Prejudice, post- 9/11, is not just for African Americans. Since then, other minority groups have had to face prejudical views, similar to those which African Americans have long been accustomed to.
In particular, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 put Muslims in the United States under closer scrutiny, but it did not distinguish them as the only minorities experiencing negative effects.
A flood of undocumented immigrants from Central and South America has made all Hispanics, citizens or not, the target of discrimination. With the fight for Equal Rights within the GLBT community increasing, this too has become a targeted community.
Much has changed since the Civil Rights era, but some traditions and social taboos have not faded out. They have just been focused in different directions.
Everything changed for Muslims after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Fears were raised to a new level.
The United States heightened its security measures, broadened its constitutional interpretation of civil liberties and suffered a higher unemployment rate.
The immediate social effects of the terrorist attacks were experienced in large part by those of the Islamic faith.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan showed that the United States saw an increase in hate crimes against Muslims between 2000 and the end of 2001.
Like many groups that migrated to America, many Muslims came to the United Seeking seeking opportunity in a new country. They sought freedom and equal representation. But they found strife and backlash in the form of the Patriot Act, which among other things, granted law enforcement greater permissions in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorsim-related acts.
Suddenly, close examination of citizenship status was being based on physical appearance.
Bilal Butt, a Muslim student at N.C. State, said his sister who wears a traditional hijab has experienced several different forms of prejudice.
“People have approached her and said, ‘you’re free here, you don’t have to wear that anymore,’” said Butt. According to him, others have given her snide, unwelcoming looks and her car has been completely searched when she attempted to drive on a military base.
Also exposed to the wave of paranoia were Hispanic Americans.
Discrimination has historically been high against Hispanic Americans; however, between 2001 and 2008, a study by Pew Research have shown a decrease in racial tolerance in the workplace and inequality in the housing and the health insurance market.
The recent addition of boxes on job applications labeled “of Latino or Hispanic Descent” and “Not of Latino or Hispanic Descent” has made it appear that Hispanic/Latino ancestry is something that needs to be checked before deciding whether or not an individual will be considered for a job or given insurance.
This also becomes more interesting when, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, Hispanic Americans made up more than 50 percent of the individuals working in the private sector, yet earn the lowest weekly income of minorities in the United States. Surveys taken by the Leadership Conference say that the instance of hate crimes against Hispanic Americans has gone up from 426 to 595 between 2003 and 2007.
“I feel this whole discrimination by employer or work is very reliant on the type of job,” said Jose Gonzalez, a Chicano student. “White collar, blue collar, professional job … the managers who hold positions and their backgrounds play a big role in whether or not someone will feel uncomfortable at work.”
America’s GLBT community face prejudices based on more than could be ascertained by sight.
The GLBT community in the United States has been visibly fighting for their rights in this country since 1956, when the Daughters of Bilitis was founded as the first national lesbian organization. In 1974, “homosexuality” was officially removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
With America recovering from the Civil Rights Movement, legal rights for the GLBT community were not deeply examined until the 2000s. Recently, more states have recognized same-sex marriages and extended family benefits to same-sex couples.
Since 2001, America’s GLBT community has been subject to laws that restrict their private and public lives. 2002-2007 saw a reported 1,265 hate crimes that involved sexual orientation. In 2007, of the hate crimes reported, more than 15 percent were committed against a lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual individual.
Ashley Wilkerson, a gay student, has never felt any negative effects of her sexual orientation. She actually is optimistic.
“If anything, society has been more accepting.” said Wilkerson, who said she has never allowed her sexuality to define her.
The social implications of racism and prejudices aren’t confined to a single group or type of people. The United States has succumbed to prejudice out of fear of the unknown.
Minority members have often received the backlash of fear. Workplace discrimination, and racial and religious profiling have been the tools used to intimidate minorities.
Government policy must treat immigrants and minorities as people worthy of human and civil rights protections as they provide vital services, contribute to our economy, and raise their children in the United States.