Race and Ethnicity

Race and ethnicity are aspects that have dominated world debates for a long time. Race and ethnicity reflect diversity. Thus, the two aspects should ideally herald prosperity. However, race and ethnicity have been used negatively. Discrimination, prejudice, condemnation, etc have influenced relations among different races and ethnicities. In this paper, an attempt is made to portray how ethnicity and race have been used to promote negativity across the world.

Racism and ethnicity are traceable to the age of colonial imperialism. Colonial powers saw it important to expand the market for their products and the need to exercise power over other countries early enough. They, therefore, colonized other nations, which were weaker. They also had an aim of exploiting the resources of the poor countries in disguise that it was their burden to civilize the natives. They used various methods to capture the power over other nations. Once they had that control, they introduced many changes on the social, economic and political fronts. Here below, the various changes are put into perspective.

As already highlighted, the colonial masters used several methods to get power over the native inhabitants. They used missionaries to establish grounds favorable for them to engage their activities. The missionaries preached love, implying to the locals that they were never allowed to kill anyone during their lifetimes. This was in preparation for the battle or arrival of the colonialists so that the indigenous people would not fight them. Some natives believed it; they were converted to Christianity and helped the colonialists. The use of collaboration with some local chiefs to further their interests was also used.

The chiefs were given goodies and promised many more for their support to colonialists. These locals, thereby, aided in exploration of the colonized nations. In addition, the collaborators acted as interpreters for the colonialists and attempted to convince the local residents that the whites camee for the good of the locals (Peter, 2008). These collaborators served as examples of beneficiaries as they benefited from education and other gifts. This convinced the other locals to follow the same route with the hope of gaining from such provisions. Based on this establishment, the imperialists used education as one of the approaches to changing the colonized societies.

Force was also used to suppress any resistance that was encountered from the native communities. The colonialists had a well-equipped army with lethal arsenal and, therefore, were in a position of seeing off any challenge from the locals who were inadequately equipped for a fight. The locals used machetes and spears, compared to the colonialists who had powerful guns (Peter, 2008). This, therefore, made it easier for the colonialists to defeat the natives and allow them to establish their rule over the colony. The use of force was also an element that changed the shape of the colonized communities since new weaponry was introduced.

The colonialists also used the tactic ‘divide and rule’ in their efforts to take over and maintain power (Rodney, 1973). They introduced a number of religious affiliations. Such religions included Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. This contributed to the creation of confusion amongst the locals, an aspect that compromised the unity factor. This weakened the locals since they could hardly agree, thereby making it easy for the colonial masters to exert their presence. As such, the colonizers introduced religion as an aspect that was useful in controlling the natives as well as influencing their ways of life.

The settlers also supported the colonial activities. They provided food and accommodation to the colonial masters and guided them on how they could best tackle the natives. The use of administrative units and posting of rulers helped to enhance their authority. The colonialists had District Commissioners and Chiefs who executed the duties on the ground (Rodney, 1973). Use of a biased justice system like courts also had an effect of promoting the colonial masters’ goals through serving to defeat justice to the locals. By the use of the above mentioned means, they established a colonial system of governance different from what the natives initially had.

Another case that raises ethnicity and racial segregation was the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis (TSUS). However, basic concerns border on ethical issues. The research design, social pressure, deception, and absence of informed consent were critical aspects that emerged. It was, probably, not the best decision to recruit people from vulnerable communities. Identifying and classifying individuals into vulnerable groups equally raises concerns. Access to healthcare also comes into consideration. The research was conducted against the backdrop of racism. During the era of racism, preconceived ideas, based on prejudice, played a great role in the research.

When recruiting participants for research, it was necessary to uphold the principle of voluntariness and informed consent. It also emerged that the research was against the tenets of public trust. The cessation of the research was postdated while its inception was predated. Moreover, the research targeted traditionally exploited people.

The primary ethical concerns are about best practices when conducting research. There is also the principle of beneficence, which requires that the medical staff be in the beneficial position comparing to the patients. The other principle rests on justice. This requires fairness in providing medical care without any discrimination on whatever grounds. As already pointed, the research did not observe the justice principle. Since nurse Rivers was heavily involved in the exercise, it is conclusive that she played a facilitative role. In her defense, it is possible that the nurse could cite the principle of confidentiality as being behind her actions. Under the principle, it is expected that some information be kept confidential. However, the principle does not apply to such aspects, as truthful disclosure. This is a daunting task. Most healthcare providers charge for their services and products. Therefore, those who cannot afford it are not properly served or attended. In practice, adhering to the principles is daunting as it reflects the case of Eunice Rivers. Rivers did not observe ethical principles.

The nurse Eunice Rivers, who was a black graduate from the Tuskegee Institute, was at the centre of the research (Smith, 1996). Rivers was hired to coordinate the TSUS program. She organized transport, clinics and worked as a primary contact for those people who were enrolled for the research. With the help of Eunice, the program was able to recruit men from the Macon County. The TSUS also persuaded the Tuskegee Institute to take part by promising both employment and training to students. Based on the above disclosure, it is evident that Rivers played a key part in the unethical research.

The participating men were told that they were being examined for ‘bad blood’, which is a catchphrase for several illnesses (Smith, 1996). Moreover, the participants were never informed that they were suffering from syphilis. In addition to this, the participants did not know what syphilis was and how it was spread. The fact that the medication given to these men was inadequate to treat them further complicated the whole issue. The use of aspirin and iron as placebo treatments was also employed (Smith, 1996).

It is clear that Eunice was a willing participant in the scandal. She had all the information about the research, but she chose to cooperate with the authorities of TSUS. As a professional, Eunice should have adhered to ethical requirements. In this regard, she should have honored the principle of informed consent by informing the participants about the nature of the study. She should have also ensured that the participants were receiving correct medication. The failure to inform the participants or to ensure correct medication shows Eunice in a bad light. Based on this establishment, Eunice is partly to blame for the ethical malpractices that characterized the project. However, the overriding issue is that racial discrimination has a great effect in the society.

Racism and ethnicity have also been used to deny people equity in access to critical services. More specifically, aborigines are sidelined. Keen observers note that health status has been affected by the living conditions of an individual (Rispel et al, 2009). In countries such as Australia, the living conditions have varied since historical times. In Australia, living conditions vary across the regions (Willis, Reynolds & Keleher, 2008). To begin with, income is an important determinant of social life. In effect, income affects the type of education an individual accords his/her family, the diet consumed, the job held, and the working conditions. Equally noticeable, income influences the food security that individuals enjoy.

Social exclusion is a function of varied levels of income (Willis, Reynolds & Keleher, 2008). The individuals who earn more often tend to class themselves. As such, people with low incomes are more likely to suffer from social exclusion. Apart from exclusion, poor people lack job security. This may necessitate the establishment of a safety net to protect low-level income earners.

Economic difficulties herald prematurity in life (Sachs, 2005). Struggling families are unable to allow children, adolescents and young adults to experience proper growth and development. At these stages of development, especially the first two of them, mortality levels and social disorder respectively undermine advancement (Willis, Reynolds & Keleher, 2008). Based on these problems, the victims succumb to premature deaths.

The magnitude of risk factors, including high levels of cholesterol, inactivity, poor diet, etc, is critical in accounting for the surfacing of chronic diseases. Living conditions, due to income differentials, play an important role in the emergence of these ills (Rispel et al., 2009). Principally, deprivation conditions lead to experiencing high levels of stress, an aspect that compounds the healthcare problem. Worse still, the victims adopt unacceptable behaviors in responding to the prevailing circumstances. The adoption of such behaviors, as the consumption of illicit drugs, does not portend well for the health of the victims (Rispel et al., 2009).

It is significant to note that people living in poor conditions are at a higher risk of experiencing high incidences of illnesses, domestic violence, accidental injuries, poor school scores, child abuse, etc. This fact implies that marginalized people encounter added problems when growing. Even if these concerns are likely to affect each family, regardless of the wellness, poor families are at a higher risk (Rispel et al., 2009).

The differences in access to healthcare facilities are attributable to various factors. However, social determinants, such as education, power, occupation, ethnicity, place of living, income, gender, etc, play a leading role in the emergence and the perpetuation of the inequities in Australia. Allegedly, the indigenous people in Australia are the ones that suffer most from health inequities. On approximation, this community has a reduced life span of between seventeen and nineteen years in comparison to the broader community. Moreover, the indigenous populations have higher death rates and bigger risks to be affected by various illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, injuries, diabetes and other diseases (Public Health Association of Australia inc., 2006).

Based on the cases explored in this paper, ethnicity and race have been used to disadvantage the vulnerable groups. However, it is necessary to focus on the positive aspects of the question in order to make life better for the entire human race.


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