Promise v. Reality of Equal Opportunity

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The history of the United States is littered with exclusionary methods that create complex webs of structural racism that have persisted from the times of indentured servitude and slavery to the modern day. During the 1970s specifically the practice of redlining was in full swing, and many people of color were forced to work unskilled or semi-skilled jobs due to widespread workplace discrimination. These structures serve to create obstacles to the success of minorities, those not traditionally considered to be ‘white’. Generations of people of color have been affected as they are continually denied access to better education, higher paying jobs, and even legal citizenship. One particular example is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose memoir My Beloved World details her experiences as the first generation daughter of working class Puerto Rican immigrants. Rather than being seen for her vast accomplishments in high school, at Princeton University, and as a United States Supreme Court Justice, she has had to battle assumptions made about her character and the path to her success that cause her to be racialized as lazy and therefore unworthy of achievement; assumptions that are solely based on her race, class, and gender. Despite the promises made by the United States to provide equal opportunities for all its citizens, many minorities are still subject to the ideology that they are lazy, undeserving, poor, and inferior purely because of their race, as shown in Sonia Sotomayor’s interactions with her school nurse and a shopkeeper in an upscale store. Regardless, members of these historically disparaged minorities reveal contradictions as they strive to overcome the racism they must face every day yet are still faced with discrimination in ... ... middle of paper ... ...e widespread cultural belief that they are poor and inferior simply because ‘non-white’ races are inherently lazy by the reality of their everyday lives. Many minorities work very hard to overcome the structural racism that tries to keep them out of schools and in unskilled or semiskilled jobs. More and more people of color succeed in overcoming race-based discrimination by continually contradicting the ideologies that work to keep them in poor, working class neighborhoods and schools. People like Sonia will continue to slowly chip away at the structures that work against them until the promise of equal opportunity is finally and completely fulfilled. Works Cited Sotomayor, Sonia. "Excerpt from My Beloved World (2013)." (n.d.): n. pag. Rpt. in Dimensions of Culture 3: Imagination. Comp. Jorge Mariscal and Emily Roxworthy. N.p.: Cognella, 2014. 101-23. Print.

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