Democracy is derived from the social contract theory, whereby the citizens delegate their power to an institution, that is, the government to take care of their welfare. In the United States, the Democrats and the Republicans form the government. The African Americans, Hispanics, and the minority groups of immigrants believe that the Democrats have more liberal policies that address social issues such as racism, crime, and education than the Republicans do. In California, Black Americans and Latinos form a significant percentage of the entire population. However, the persistent question is whether these minority groups gain more from the democratic government than from the Republican one. This inquiry is particularly relevant in light of the democratic framework, which is largely founded on brutality, inequalities, and domination in the slavery era. The effects of slavery in the modern day include racism and oppression against the minority. These factors ultimately lead to poverty due to the high dependency on minimum wage. Racism and oppression are the two major factors that make the idealism of equality an elusive dream for the African Americans and Hispanics.
The major defining element of poverty and inequality among minority groups is race. Race is defined as the biological differences arising from divergent ancestral and geographical origins. Race is not only characterized by the DNA, but also through the physical appearance of an individual. Accordingly, racism is not a biological condition, but a social condition. A person can only be classified within a particular race based on their identifiable features (Wright and Rogers 1). Historically, race has been a sensitive political element, but one which individuals in positions of authority have always sought to exploit. In the 19th century, employers maximized on racial factors and used the minority races as strikebreakers as they were always willing to accept minimum wage and provide their labor despite an ongoing strike. These actions weakened trade unions and led to a deep resentment against blacks and other minorities.
President Nixon capitalized on the ensuing frictions to develop the ‘southern strategy’. He used the racial fears to convince the white American middle class to shift its support from the Democratic Party to the Republic party. The strike breaks that were adopted by the employers harmed the economic standing of the white people. Nixon convinced the white population that the only way to regain their economic viability was to create inequalities between the two demographics (Hajnal and Horowitz 101).
Consequently, reserved policies and politics were used to alienate the blacks and the minorities. These past practices affect the minority groups even in the present day in both formal and informal ways. For example, there are various policies that accord second-class citizenship to the minority group, which further hampers their ability to end the cycles of poverty. Evidential examples include the policies that prohibit convicted criminals from voting and those that impose striker penalties and sanctions. The highest percentage of incarcerated individuals is from the minority groups, particularly the blacks. Therefore, implementing measures whose greater effect is experienced by these particular groups further advances the historical injustices meted against them prior to the civil war.
As is the case in nearly all states in America, racism has repeatedly been a tool to divide the California residents and to protect the interests of the majority. For example, the use of the undermined universalistic approach to welfare in the state is a common tact of alienating the blacks and the Latinos from programs that would benefit them (Wright and Rogers 3). The primary obligation of the programs that are implemented at the state level is to raise the living standards of the people in the lower socioeconomic categories. Despite this overall objective, most of these policies are structured to benefit the majority whites at the expense of the minorities.
Another significant element of the interplay between poverty and race is manifested in the fact that the whites participate in the labor markets more than the minority groups. The former group has a better advantage due to their higher chances of accessing quality education than their counterparts in the latter group. Consequently, they can offer highly skilled labor that attracts higher wages and benefits. In addition, while a certain percentage of the minorities may have the ability to provide skilled labor, they have little interest in self-employment which provides better income. This factor subsequently constricts poverty to the minority groups as they almost entirely depend on minimum wage, unlike their counterparts who have additional benefits apart from their salaries (Gradin10). Thus, they have limited growth in their socioeconomic statuses compared to the majority of the whites who are unafraid to become proprietors of their own businesses. Segregation in job positions further means that the majority of the whites have a higher chance of working in high managerial positions than African Americans and Latinos, which translates to less earning for the latter.
In addition to labor forces, other demographics such as education, age, and the duration of employment play a major role in determining the poverty levels of the population in the state. Poverty and inequality are exacerbated by the overall status of the head of the family and whether the family is being raised by either a single parent or both parents. In most Hispanic and black families, there is a high dependence on a sole breadwinner who is usually the head of the family. Due to the immense pressure associated with this kind of responsibility, the head is usually forced to work double shifts in order to support the family. Even with the extra workload, most families spend nearly all the wages on utilities with little surplus to save or invest. However, where both spouses are employed, there is a better chance of alleviating poverty due to the diverse sources of income.
In conclusion, the income distribution in the state and the country in general is highly polarized and unequally distributed. The existence of a large gap in the welfare of the racial groups is the main cause of this inequality and which it provides the most appropriate framework for solving this grave issue. Availing quality and affordable education opportunities is one of the most viable options for alleviating the levels of poverty and inequality among the African Americans and Hispanics. An educated populace can shift from providing unskilled labor to equally competing with its counterparts in white collar jobs, thus accessing better wages. The need to change their family structures is also eminent. Currently, most of the families rely on the family head to provide for the basic needs. Meager earnings make children’s education a secondary objective, thus continuing the chain of poverty in the family. The members of the community also lack the necessary incentives to be aggressive. The few that are ambitious choose to remain in employment, rather than being self-employed. Better policies ought to be developed and implemented by the state to cater for the wellbeing of these minority groups.
Gradin, Carlos. “Poverty among Minorities in the United States: Explaining the Racial Poverty Gap for Blacks and Latinos.” ECINEQ Working Papers, no. 96, 2008.
Hajnal, Zoltan and Horowitz, Jeremy. “Racial Winners and Losers in American Party Politics.” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 12, no. 1, 2014.
Wright, Olin and Rogers, Joel. American Society: How it really Works. W.W Norton, Inc., 2015.