Throughout history, huge advances have been made in overcoming racial prejudice in America. However, upon closer inspection, racism has not gone away. It has merely taken on another form.
Modern America is well past the days of blatant, outright racism such as slavery. Now it exists in a much quieter way, whether it is an organized group brought together by the believed superiority of a certain race or an unconscious snap decision based on the way a person looks.
International conflicts and the fear of terrorism have changed the way in which racism works in America. When the U.S was attacked on September 11, 2001, the country was left gripped in fear and hating those who had brought harm to our fellow Americans. It didn’t matter if the people who were killed in these attacks were white, black, or hispanic; the country came together and mourned for them as brothers and sisters regardless of race. The lasting effects of that day have caused a heightened awareness and distrust of those from Middle Eastern descent even if they have been long-time citizens of the U.S.
The existence of racial prejudice does not breed anything but inevitable aggression and fear. When a person experiences racism, especially at a young age, they will begin to develop their own negative thoughts of racial differences. Children are vulnerable and if they are made to feel inferior due to something as simple as the color of their skin, these feelings are likely to take root in them.
How are Counselors and Psychologists Helping?
Counselors and psychologists have taken an interest in multi-cultural differences in the U.S. and have realized that understanding and appreciating differences among people is an individual choice. Cultural education opportunities are being made available within communities and schools to encourage people to see both similarities and differences between people with different backgrounds and cultures.
Counselors have helped establish support programs for those who have felt disdain for their race. The YWCA in Tucson, Arizona has established a Racial Justice Program offering the support of volunteer therapists and community members who provide education and resources to those who participate in the workshops. This program also has a branch allowing middle and high school students to run the Racial Justice Youth Program. Counselors believe that by educating and talking openly about these issues, specifically at a young age, generations to come might be able to have the knowledge and backing to diminish racism.
The United States has often been referred to as a melting pot; however, this suggests the need for Americans to melt together in conformity. A more realistic approach is learning to accept cultural and racial differences allowing us to live together respectfully. Counselors have been, and will continue to be, those working towards realistic goals and pushing organizations to begin programs of their own. In order to take on an issue as deeply ingrained as racism, we will need educated counselors with fresh and innovative ideas to lead the charge in eliminating prejudice.
Find out how you can become involved, request information from schools offering Psychology degree programs. Also, learn more about the psychology career licensing processes and what the requirements for licensure are: Psychology Career Licensure.