Racism in America Today

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“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglas said this in 1857 because of the constant struggle blacks had to face to gain their civil rights. Like many sociological ideas, racism has a familiar use and countless everyday meanings. The sociological viewpoint gives race as basically a social category and examines race relations with reference to societal constructions and development. According to Philomena Essed in her book Understanding Everyday Racism, “The specific forms racism takes are determined by the economic, political, social, and organizational conditions of society.” Many people are unaware of racism; people may ask how racism is incorporated in our lives? Why do blacks even believe that individuals are racist towards them? These are constant questions that maybe aren’t asked but definitely questioned. The answer is control. Control is the factor to racism. The more you can bring a group down and make them feel belittled, the easier it is to control them.
Now let’s take a look at the history of slavery with blacks. It all started in Jamestown, Virginia which is where the first slave ships had entered in August of 1619. While blacks became upset because of being enslaved as an indentured servant they started to revolt against the white supremacy. Revolts happened in New York in 1712 and another in South Carolina in 1739. With the revolts happening, the white supremacy feels as if they needed to change laws to make it to where blacks have stricter laws. The bad part is that these laws applied to slaves as well as “free negroes” at that time. This, like I said before, puts blacks under control giving them restrictions and telling them what they can and can’t do to scare them into no revolting and to just accept the change that was going on. Philomena Essed says “Blacks in the United States tried virtually everything in their struggle for liberation—revolt, petitions, armed attacks, economic boycott, demonstrations, riots, court action, the vote, alliances, [and] Black Nationalism.” This made blacks upset and hopeless because it seemed whatever they tried to do it was never enough to end the countless struggles.
Slavery had lasted for several of years. During the times of 1820 and 1860 controversy between the north and the south started to emerge.

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The big issue they were arguing about was the debate if slavery should continue or not. The whites in the south had first a believed that blacks in the south will always be inferior to the whites so setting blacks from slavery will give them a chance to feel a little more equal to the whites in the south. The south didn’t want the blacks to be set free. They also believed that being enslaved will do good not just to blacks but also white slaves. Lastly, they believed that slaves were the ones who kept up their source of economic and social welfare. All while in the North it was a whole different mindset. The abolitionist movement was currently happening, with the leader William Garrison, because people started looking at slavery as wrong and inhumane. Blacks started to form together to help out the Northern army and also to encourage other blacks to join the movement. Some of the helpers of the abolitionist are Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas. There were other white oppression movements such as Nat Turners Rebellion. A civil war was at hand and the North’s main reason was to preserve the union and free the slaves while preserving the union. During this time the North still segregated the army and supplied the blacks with less pay. Blacks were constantly harassed by whites in the North. According to Larry Brasel and Mary Macinnes in their book Civil Rights In Texas: A Comparative Study Of Ten Texas Cities “At least 9/10 of the casualties were perpetrated by the police and citizens by stabbing and smashing in the heads of many who had already been wounded or killed by policeman, it was not just a riot but an absolute massacre by the police, a murder which the mayor and police perpetrated without the shadow of necessity.”
After the war the slaves were indeed free and even finally recognized as an actual United States citizen by the Emancipation Proclamation in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment. Reconstruction started to happen while trying to incorporate blacks as citizens. A quote from David Theo Goldberg explains in his book Racist Culture Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning what is going on in this time of reconstruction, “As modernity commits itself progressively to idealized principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, as it increasingly insists upon the moral irrelevance of race, there is a multiplication of racial identities and the sets of exclusions they prompt and rationalize, enable and sustain.”
Later on in the years the civil rights movement started to become more and more abandoned. Freed Negros was relegated to second class citizenship. United States as a whole started to follow what was called the “Jim Crow” laws. These laws were bringing back blacks into almost undoing the rights they earned and took so long to gain. Jim Crow laws took away not just the blacks “opportunities for civic and political participation and imposed segregated facilities in education, travel, and public accommodations,” but it also took away the hope for blacks to ever think about raising their families in a world where there is equality.
World War I came along and at this time blacks could have just given up but instead blacks decided to protest. The protest pushes to forward moving for the civil rights laws. The Niagra Movement started to emerge which later got changed to the NAACP and blacks were making great progress when it came to civil rights. The NAACP were taking action and helping blacks during unlawful moments to get the justice that they deserve.
World War II came along and this is what helped Blacks put their civil right laws on the map. When Hitler was going around shooting and killing innocent Jews it started to make the Americans have a little more sympathy for human rights. The Executive branch has responded first that cause blacks to have equal employment. There was a march on Washington that caused President Roosevelt to put in place a Committee that supported equal employment. The Judicial branch also started to try and stand by the blacks and shield the civil rights of minorities. From the book Civil Rights In Texas: A Comparative Study of Ten Texas Cities The court wrote “the privilege of membership in a party may be….no concern of a state. But when, as here, that privilege is also the essential qualification for voting in a primary to select nominees for a general election, the state makes the action of the party the actions of the state.” This showed that the government is finally putting concrete ground laws to help the minorities achieve what they have been longing for which is equality. The biggest thing to ever happen, when it comes to civil rights, was when the 1954 Supreme Court, Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, ha an opinion in the trial. The state had required that the schools being segregated had caused discrimination amongst the students, which was looked at as unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. The Brown case had started had started something new in which they were gaining some kind of effort in being able to have a say in court or legally. After the case the final say has been made to desegregate schools and hopefully produce change. Also after this case the statement of being spate but equal was overruled.
As usual the South didn’t want to make schools desegregated so the process of finally setting up these laws took some time. This law started a disagreement between the state law and the federal law which eventually lead to the Federal troops having to bombard their way into Little Rock, Arkansas and forcing the desegregation of their educational institutions. This act of riotousness to make people equal made blacks proud and which made them come together, not just blacks but other individuals who supported the civil rights movement. During the years between 1957 and 1968, blacks started to really stick up against the white supremacy and speaking out by using non-violent protest. There were three big organizations that were mainly instituting these non-violent protests which were; the (S.C.L.C.) which was also known as The Martin Luther King Southern Christian Leadership Conference, (C.O.R.E.) also known as the Congress of Racial Equality, and the (S.N.C.C) also known as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
After the Legislative Branch of the United States Government has been keeping quiet for nearly 100 years they finally decide to good to the people who were involved in the civil rights movement and give them the justice that they deserve. During the 1960’s the blacks started to increase their rebellious act against the way they were treated in the south by, “sit-ins and mass demonstrations throughout the South. Southerners responded with violent, ill-treatment of the demonstrators and bombings which destroyed homes, churches and schools identified with the protest movement.” When President Kennedy was elected he pushed the civil rights movement on the road to justice. The president banned different stuff that caused discrimination such as in education, Federal housing, voting and transportation. The South kept fighting back to stop the push for blacks to be equally compared to the whites in the United States.
Finally, on July 2, 1964 a bill was passed to ensure that blacks should be equal in a public aspect. This was a big step and a long time of fighting to get this to come about. Once again the South refuses to accept the change that had come and refused to give up without a fight to try changing the law. President Johnson kept his word to standing beside the civil rights bill. Johnson had a lot of ideas for bills to be passed in favor of the people wanting civil rights but none passed until 1969 which suggested that discrimination should be banned dealing with Federal housing. During this time blacks decided to take matters in to their own hands and this was the start of the movement commonly known as “Black Power.” In 1967 racial riots broke out in a lot of the major cities. Unlike the old riots which were non-violent and started by the whites, these riots were started by the blacks and were full out violent riots. This caused the “Revolution of rising Expectations” and this stated that “frustrated hopes are the residue of the unfulfilled expectations aroused by the great judicial and legislative victories of the civil rights movement and the dramatic struggle for equal rights in the South.”
When Nixon was elected no further movements were made involving civil rights. The movement for civil rights was put on pause and the blacks still wanted something to be in order to help blacks become equal on a community level rather than the national level. The national government was more concerned with the Vietnam War in which blacks had disagreed with. There were still black community leaders pushing for “Black Power” such as Jesse Jackson. Stokely Carmichael wrote, “The need for psychological equality is the reason why S.N.C.C…believes that blacks must organize in the black community. Only blacks can convey the revolutionary idea that black people are able to do things themselves. Only they can help create in the community an aroused and continuing black consciousness that will provide the basis for political strength.”
With that knowledge we can infer that blacks as a whole have accomplished many things since the time of slavery. We now are proud to see that because of all these laws and struggles we’ve been through that we are able to finally have a black president. Even then we still have racism out there but humanity as a whole has started to conform to the change that still needs work but is coming.



Works Cited

• Taebel, Delbert A. Civil Rights in Texas: A Comparative Study of Ten Texas Cities. [S.l.]: Taebel, 1973. Print.
• Essed, Philomena. Understanding Everyday Racism: An Interdisciplinary Theory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1991. Print.
• Goldberg, David Theo. Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning. Oxford [England: Blackwell, 1993. Print.



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