The experiences of groups in the United States
African Americans have a unique experience compared to other immigrant groups.
Africans were stolen from their lands and used as slaves. This began shortly after Columbus'
arrival to America, and slavery lasted for hundreds of years until June 19th 1865. Yet, Jim Crow
laws kept African Americans segregated until 1965. Other immigrants fled Europe or Asia to
begin lives in America, and faced some persecution. For example, after World War II, hundreds
of thousands of Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps (Takaki, 2016.) In 1790,
the Naturalization Law which granted citizenship to people born in the United States, did not
extend citizenship to free African Americans, Asian Americans, and not even Native Americans.
Laws such as this were completely constructed on the color of your skin, which is why other
immigrants (Irish, Jews, etc.) with compatible skin color to Anglo-European settlers, did not face
the same persecution as that of African Americans (Takaki, 2016.)
Moreover, Native Americans have their own unique American experience because they
were already here. Many were brutally massacred, raped, and forced to assimilate in the wake of
the European settlers. European immigrants did not even view Indians as citizens because they
would not conform to the European lifestyle. Because of this, Andrew Jackson enacted the
Indian Removal Act of 1830 to force Native Americans onto reservations. Although there have
been improvements made to legislation and action to provide equality, there wasn't restitution for
the lives that suffered at the hands of European settlers; and still laws in place today affect
persons of color disproportionately than the white populations.
According to one study, McCormack (2014) suggests is that "nearly half (49 percent) of
African-American men and 40 percent of white men have been arrested by the age of 23." This is
why authors, Andersen and Collins (2016) of Why Race, Class, and Gender Still Matter state
"Race, class, and gender structure society in ways that value some lives more than others" (pp. 2).
In other words, privilege is assigned to some groups (i.e. wealthy white males) while others face
inequality (poor women of color). People of color continue to struggle against the racist and
sexists attitudes (passed down through generations of European Americans) that continue to
govern society, inherit wealth, and inherit the land.
Furthermore, to better understand these terms, Audre Lorde (2016) defines racism as
"the belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all other races and thereby the right to
dominance. Sexism, the belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over the other and thereby
the right to dominance" (pp. 16.) Thus, through an inclusive perspective, race, class, and gender
are intersectional experiences and deeply constructed into our society (Andersen & Collins,
2016.) The difference framework, or diversity or multicultural perspective, differs to the
inclusive perspective in the sense that this framework analyzes the different experiences of
groups based on race, class, and gender (Andersen & Collins, 2016.) For instance, when you
examine that white females carry the privileges and advantages of being light-skinned, yet
burdened by the socioeconomic constraints of being female. We can look similarly at the matrix
of domination which refers to race, class, and gender as interlocking levels of domination
(Andersen & Collins, 2016.) For example, wealthy white man exists as the dominate group
perspective because they have more influence, resources, and power in America. Consequently,
when we reflect on the groups who are most affected by poverty, inequality, poor health, and
disability, we understand women of color have had the least amount of privilege and resources
because of the systems of power. America's laws, customs, and norms reflect hundreds of years
of racist patriarchal ideology.
Subsequently, Colorism is another example of the workings of the matrix of domination.
Including black boys and girls internalizing this racist patriarchy, as portrayed in the
documentary Dark Girls (2011), where black men chose to date light-skinned women compared
to dark girls. Also the documentary suggests black girls are indoctrinated from a young age to
believe they are less beautiful and less intelligent compared to white girls. This is America and
much of the rest of the world's perspective view dark-skinned women and men as less attractive;
and so the images of dark women and men are not seen on television, magazines, or in the media.
Thus, the narratives and experiences have become invisible of dark-skinned women to the white
majority. In fact, most of the history taught in American schools are written to neutralize the
events that continue to marginalize the groups that were oppressed, and protect the groups that
did the oppressing.
Andersen, M. L., & Collins, P. H. (2016). Why Race, Class, and Gender Still Matter. In Race,
class, and gender: An anthology (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub.
Berry, D. C., & Duke, B. (Producers & Directors). (2011) Dark Girls [Motion Picture]. United
Lorde, A. (2016). Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference. In Race, class, and
gender: An anthology (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub.
McCormack, S. (2014, January 06). Nearly Half Of Black Males, 40 Percent Of White Males
Are Arrested By Age 23: Study. Retrieved January 23, 2016, from
Takaki, R. T. (2016). A Different Mirror. In Race, class, and gender: An anthology (9th ed.).
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub.