Racism, post-race America, Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality

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            Racism can be defined as the existing belief that abilities and characteristics attributed to certain people based on their race thus bringing up the superiority of some races over the others. Discrimination is the end product of racism and is associated with many ill-practices such as high illiteracy rates, segregation, limited employment, lack of access to healthcare and poverty. Since the famous Martin Luther King Jr. speech, America has made much progress in dealing with racism. The post-race America has witnessed the election of Barack Obama as the 44th

U.S president. Through racism, police brutality has been witnessed where they used excessive force while dealing with some people. The police force has played a huge role in racial profiling where the blacks are more prone to be frisked than the whites. This essay will look into racism and how it has affected police brutality, black live matter and post-race America.

History of racism

            Racism in America can be traced way back when the American colonies were formed and during the start of slavery almost 400 years ago. Most of the slaves were not treated as equal to the whites thus subjected to dehumanizing and brutal oppression and discrimination. White Americans and African Americans have been subjected to their race, the region they lived in and their inherent social status. Blacks have adopted various social expectations and are exposed to a different life than the whites due to the historical relationship with various institutions such as education, the judicial system, politics, and economy among others. Social order and economic activities saw slavery domination across America. Law viewed the slaves as property rather than people and thus had no lawful rights. Slaves could easily be bought, vended or rented without consideration of their family ties to children and relatives (Jaynes & Williams, 13).

            Before the Naturalization Act in 1870, American citizenship had been limited to the whites only. The racial inferiority of the black had already taken root in the nineteenth century which served to justify the slavery institution. Freedom for white American was a birthright that ought to be defended, unlike the African Americans who had to fight for freedom. Referring to the struggle for freedom for African Americans, Frederick Douglass in his quote states, “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 rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.”

            The promised American dream did not seem to happen for African American as the continued to be excluded economically, socially and politically. Most of the African American had limited options to upgrade the life situation as they were exempted from textile factories jobs. Racism could not allow membership of African Americans in labor unions both in the South and North (Reich, 50). They could only be hired as manual workers or servants. Racism has also affected the white Americas and the minorities groups such as the Latinos.

Consequences of racism

            Racism is a vice that does more harm to an individual through racial oppression. In the course of American history, racial oppression has resulted in various forms of practices that continue to harm the society (Pager & Shepherd, 48). Through racism, second-class citizenship, genocide and geographical displacement, diffuse racial discrimination, and slavery has been witnessed in America. Different historical periods have seen diverse groups being subjected to racism.

            After the New World discovery, the European settlers and the natives clashed over the land as it was a vital economic resource. Upon formation of the U.S government, the only way they could protect their land was through genocide and displacement.  This developed a common quote in the 19th century that stated, “The only good Indian is a dead one” indicating the outrage at that time. The inhabitants were thus being killed or driven by a brutal force. A good example is the Cherokee Native Americans who were forcibly evicted from the Southeastern U.S by Andrew Jackson in the 1830s.

            Racism led to the establishment of second-class citizens which include people being discriminated despite being legal citizens of a given state. This limits people’s legal right, economic opportunities, and civil rights as a result of the neglect and mistreatment by their so-called superiors. The second-class citizens always disregarded by the law and sometimes harass them. This was the main method of racial harassment practiced in the south of U.S after the Civil War. Although the blacks were allowed to vote by the 19th century, they were still being subjected to a literacy test, which most would fail since they were not educated thus denying them right vote (Jaynes & Williams, 69). Segregationist laws also prohibited blacks from attending hotels, schools, and restaurants.

            Extra-legal violence also existed which was solely directed towards the African Americans. This was seen when the Ku Klux Klan terrorized the blacks’ residence under the watch of the state. On the other hand, lynching was supported for violence where the culprits ended up being killed without a trial. Lynching was more focused on the blacks as more black men could be executed annually than the white counterparts. By 1920s, there were laws in place to hinder interracial marriages in 36 states. The rate of imprisonment continued to be higher for the African American than whites ((Audrey, 27). Civil rights white supporters together with African Americans held some resistance, but it was occasioned by violence and efforts to stop anti-lynching laws were unsuccessful.

            Slavery during earlier years represents the greatest form of racial oppression. Due to their inferior nature as perceived by their masters, they could be branded and whipped since they were viewed as objects. The slave masters were never punished in case they killed their slaves while raping slaves was considered a normal thing. Their value was not appreciated until the abolishment of the slave trade in the 19th century. The living conditions of the American were underprivileged as most remained unskilled workers and poor peasants.

            Slaves were exposed to degrading experiences plus physical brutality. This racial oppression mainly in the South worked to benefit the economy of the North which was more industrialized. Further, African Americans were viewed as intellectual inferior thus could not act right in rational cases such as making choices (Audrey, 112). The blacks were also seen as morally inferior and thus were considered dangerous driven by passion and thus could not exist in liberty. The beliefs centered the thoughts of the racist culture but were then challenged in the late 19th century, and they still influence the relationship between different races.

            Diffuse discrimination has been witnessed throughout the history of racism through practices such as renting houses to a given racial group, job promotion and hiring based on race and complicating access to a loan for the minorities in cases of economic institutions. The white customer received a different treatment from the African Americans customers. Most of these discriminatory situations were hard to detect let alone control since it most happened in private. Even enforcing laws to prevent private discrimination was difficult.

Discrimination context

            Through racism, discrimination is manifested in various ways such as in housing, daily life interactions, the criminal justice system, credit markets, education, and employment. In daily life interactions, racism is most evident in stores, classrooms, streets and at work. Such a case involve middle-class blacks having to wait longer in restaurants before they are served than white customers. Through daily interactions, lack of social respect is evident which lowers the self-esteem and morale of the affected person.

            One of the famous forms of discrimination witnessed and documented in history books is “Driving while black” which was subjected to the African Americans by the police force. In terms of housing, agents to the real estate would not show them to the blacks until the era of civil rights. African Americans were known to exercise self-segregation where they would buy houses that are within the black neighborhood as they felt more comfortable (Pager & Shepherd, 23). This was a similar case for lending, education, and employment where African Americans were not accorded with the same opportunities as the whites did.

Post-race America

            Today, racial discrimination is still a problem although there is much progress in dealing with the vice than in the past. After the 1980s, there has been a significant change and a positive image can be associated with African Americans as many have flourished to become celebrities in various industries such as sports, singing, acting and even politics. African Americans have seen the transformation of their economic situation with the education gap amongst whites and blacks being narrowed.

            Barack Obama election to presidency saw a substantial change in the racial landscape and came to the fulfillment of the Martin Luther King’s dream. This has also served as a turning point in ending racial oppression and the political inferiority ideologies shown towards African Americans (Esposito & Finley, 76). His win served as evidence to the great steps in showing equality and democracy of American race. However, discrimination is still practiced although it goes unmentioned thus does not get the publicity.

            With the civilization in the modern world, racism should be the thing of the past. Race should not deter one from doing what they ought to do. Abolition of slavery did not end the racial injustices until the Civil War era when African Americans could enjoy democracy and equality. Civil right movements such as the black live matters has played a vital role in eliminating the historical discrimination on basis of race. This uneven treatment has brought out the difference between the whites who are majority and the racial minorities.

Work Cited

Devah Pager and Hana Shepherd, “The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets” Annual Review of Sociology 2008.

Esposito, L. & Finley, L.L. “Barack Obama, Racial Progress, and the Future or Race Relations in the United States.” Western Journal of Black Studies, 2009.

Gerald David Jaynes and Robin M. Williams, “A Common Destiny – Blacks and American Society”,

National Academy Press, Washington, D.C, 1997.

Michael Reich, “Racial Inequality: A Political-Economic Analysis”, Princeton University Press, 1981.

Smedley, Audrey. “Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview”. Third Edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. 2007.

November 24, 2023

History Sociology

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American History

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