Racism has been an issue in America since the early years of America becoming a country. Since the first time the settlers stepped foot on the land they treated the Native Americans with no respect. There was a lot of hate towards the Native Americans, to the point where they were killed just for their land. Racism has been an issue in this country from day one. When it comes to the racism towards African Americans it is no different. The question today is, is racism dead and gone. The fact of the matter is, it is not dead, and it is not gone. America as a whole have taken steps to try to eliminate racism, but it is not completely gone, nor will it ever truly be gone.
Racism has been around for centuries all over the world. African American’s have had huge problems with this in the past and present of America’s history. We cannot ignore our nation’s history. Just because someone wants to act like slavery never happened does not make it true. Also, if people want to act like there is no problem today, that also does not make it true that there is in fact a problem. One thing is for sure though, if you look back in history to how African American’s were treated back in the 1600’s to now, things have moved forward in many different ways. Racism is not dead, but it has taken steps forward from what it used to be here in America.
Before we can get into if racism is dead or not today, the first thing we have to do is look at our nation’s history. Slavery started here in America in the 1600’s when a Dutch ship had brought over 20 African slaves. They were brought to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Slaves were used as a cheap source of work. Slave owners could buy slaves for a good, cheap price and get them to do a lot of work for no money. Slaves mainly worked on cotton fields, tobacco, and rice fields in the south. Even then they were very controversial. The Northern and Southern states were split. The South saw slaves as a great thing: they did the hard labor work, they were cheap, and they did what they were told. While the Northern states saw it as unfair and inhuman. America was split on if there was a problem to deal with or if there was not. This started a long road of African American’s fight to end racism in American.
Slaves started to rebel against their owners. Not many were successful but some were. At the time, there was one specific slave rebellion that scared slaveholders the most. In A&R Television Networks of the History Channel article it is written that:
In Southampton County, Virginia, in August 1831. The revolt was led by Nat Turner. Turner’s group, which eventually numbered around 75 blacks. Murdered some 60 whites in two days before armed resistance from local whites and the arrival of the state militia forces overwhelmed them (Editors 2009).
This was one of the first successful revolts to make their first true statement of the time. Turner lead a group of men and women to fight back for their rights. After Turner lead this revolt the abolitionist movement was put into effect.
The abolitionist movement started in the 1830’s. The movement was to abolish slavery in America. One of the leaders of the movement was Frederick Douglass. He was an African American man who was a slave. He was fighting to set himself and all other African American’s free. There were also white men that supported the movement, most of the white men that supported the abolitionist movement were from the North and wanted to see slavery abolished from this country. The phrase “all men are created equal” sprang up out of this movement to show everyone that even if the slaves’ skin color was different, they are still people just like any slave owner or white man. The abolitionist movement set forth the underground railroad. The underground railroad was a system of trails that were under houses to connect to another house. These underground trails lead the slaves from the south all the way to the Northern states where they would be safe and free from their slave owners.
There were many people, both black and white, that helped fight for the freedom of slaves. Our country even went to war over this issue. The Civil War is known as the breaking point of the nation, it was the first official step to getting slavery illegalized. Abraham Lincoln was the president during the Civil War and he had the anti-slavery view point. Lincoln set into place the Emancipation Proclamation which helped get the ball rolling to get all slaves freed. It did in fact free some slaves. People have a miss conception that the Emancipation Proclamation is what freed the slaves, but it was not until in the 13th amendment when slaves gained their freedom from their slave owners. This was the first and biggest step to the fight against racism in America.
Even though it was illegal to own slaves and African American’s finally had some more rights and were being treated as people, there was still a lot of hate and racism towards them. Segregation took over and separated African Americans and white people. Segregation went as far as to have separated bathrooms for black people and white people. There were different water fountains, schools, everything that you can think of. Once slavery was abolished segregation took its place because the white people were mad. Since segregation became such a big problem America tried to fight this too. The first step to fighting segregation was integration. Integration was when they forced black people into the same places as white people. Like schools for example, they were forced into white people schools. People realized how bad segregation was getting and that it needed to be stopped.
Integration was a fight against the racism of skin tones. One of the things it tried to show white people was that the only difference between them was the color of their skin. All of them were human beings. Even though today African Americans can vote today, can choose what job they would like, and can legally do the same things as any white person can there are still a lot of barriers that they face when dealing with people. Even if they legally can do anything anyone else can do, there is still racism out there that will treat them differently just because of the color of their skin.
Many people saw Obama being elected as President as one of the last steps towards racism being over. President Obama was elected for two terms and did many things as our President. There were many people that viewed this as the breaking point of racism because he was the first black President of America. Although this was very foolish thinking on everyone’s part, President Obama did not end racism. In fact, the nation has taken a step backward after President Trump was elected. Cherry Garcia wrote in the 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real:
Since the election of Donald Trump, hate crimes have been on the rise. White supremacists have been emboldened. Anti-immigrant rhetoric has intensified. As sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has said,” The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits” (Garcia).
Racism still exists today. It has just changed forms. It is not about hanging people, trying to own them, or separating white people from African Americans completely. Now it is about not having the same equal opportunities in jobs, like being looked over for a promotion just because their skin color is different.
African Americans are more likely to be suspended from school. Even if they are doing the same thing a white kid is doing, the black kid is more likely to be punished greater than the white kid. In turn with that, our criminal justice system is also heavily affected by racism. It has been a common theme that carries on over from the school systems. In our prisons and jails over 40% of the population are African American people. There is a huge problem in our criminal justice system right now when it comes to racism. Racism within the criminal justice system is seen nationwide. Although you hear more about it in the bigger cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, and big cities like that. African Americans have been targeted by law enforcement for years, and it has been recently getting worse.
The Black Lives Matter movement was started in 2012 after the killing of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old kid who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was on the neighborhood watch committee. On February 26, 2012, he had shot and killed his Trayvon because he was following him and worried that his behavior was suspicious. Trayvon had no criminal history and it was never proven that he was doing anything illegal or doing anything that would have hurt anyone. He was going to buy candy and something to drink a couple blocks down the road from his house. This trial sparked a lot of controversy in the nation. Zimmerman was and still is accused of racial profiling. He is said to have shot Trayvon because all he saw was the color of his skin. After this happened the Blacks Lives Matter movement was put into place.
The Black Lives Matter movement is the fight against the racism against African American people. This is a very popular phrase in Chicago. Right now, there is a lot of violence against black people from the cops there. Although this is true, this also goes both ways. It is a vicious cycle. Black people get scared and on edge when they see a cop and react a lot quicker out of fear. In turn, when cops are dealing with a black person they get more on edge and are more vigilant with what they do when interacting with them. Some of the cops also jump too fast to a reaction of out fear for their own life.
Black Lives Matter rallies have happened all over the nation. Just because President Obama was this nation’s first African American President, this does not mean and has been shown to not have ended racism. The movement is one of the biggest tells that racism against black people is not dead and is very much alive. It is not just shown in law enforcement. It is everywhere. People are not chosen for jobs because of their skin color. Although these things do happen one thing out remember is not every police officer is racist. Even though it is something that is going on, that does not mean that every police officer in this nation is racist against black people and wants to shoot them or put them in prison.
Although racism is a problem in America, one of the biggest problems is that people are choosing not to see the problem and believe that there is no problem. CNN politics took a poll on racism. The question was about if there is a serious problem of racism against minority’s in the United States today. When the poll was taken over 66 percent of nonwhite people said there was not a problem in the nation today. While only 39 percent of white people said there was a problem. If you are trying to fight racism and fighting to make everyone equal, then you are fighting an impossible battle if more than half of the nation’s thinks there is not a problem. White people are the biggest cause of racism against black people in our nation today. You never hear about a Mexican man being racist towards a black man. So, when trying to end racism you are fighting an impossible battle that cannot be won if more than half of them do not even see a problem in this country. This would be the first step to fighting the problem is showing everyone how big of a problem it is and that it does need to be stopped. Everyone needs to be on the same page if this is ever going to go away for good.
On the flip side of this coin, racism is not just one sided anymore. Black people are more open now with what they have to say about white people. This is something that has changed greatly over time in the country. There has probably always been black people that were racist towards white people, they were just less out spoken about it because of everything going on in the nation at the time. With people getting bolder and feeling more comfortable to speak their mind and use their freedom of speech, the more you see racism is not just one sided anymore.
People like to use the term “reverse racism,” although this is not a real thing. The definition of racism is having prejudice, ignorance, bigotry, etc. The reverse of this would be no racism at all. So, no “reverse racism” is not real. Although racism among everyone is real. Racism can affect anyone and everyone. Whether you are white, black, Asian, Mexican, and so on you can be racist towards anyone, even against people of your own race. In Zeba Blay’s article on the 4 ‘Reverse Racism’ Myths That Need to Stop she writes:
The impulse behind the reverse racism argument seems to be a desire to prove that people of color don’t have it that bad, there not the only one that are put at a disadvantage or targeted because of their race. It’s like the Racism Olympics/. And its patently untrue. (Blay 2017)
The meaning of racism can affect everyone. If you have any prejudice or ignorance about another race, you are technically being racist towards them. The notion that black people cannot be racists is false. Just because the history of African American’s is worse than white people here in America does not mean they are entitled to be racist towards anyone. Racism is very complex and can take many different forms. When it comes to the way people talk, anyone can be racist. Having prejudice for other races is something everyone is affected by.
This is fairly new looking at the nation’s history and how people interact with each other. When African Americans were slaves, they did not have a voice and were punished for having any voice about anything. Once they were free and segregation was put into place instead, they still had to watch what they said. Nowadays there is more freedom of speech for everyone. That is why this is a fairly new concept to people. The prejudice views are something that have been more vocalized in more recent years. This is not being said to take away from our nation’s history and to diminish what has happened to black people in the past, but we also have to acknowledge what is being said today not only by white people by but by black people too. If the nation wants to fight to end racism it has to be on all ends of the spectrum with everyone. Not just one race, but with all people.
Racism in America has changed over the years. Things have gotten better in some ways but the reality of the situation is there is still a lot of racism towards people today. Black people still have a lot of racism to deal with. Racism has expanded to everyone. There is so much prejudice and ignorance towards everyone who is different on all side of the spectrum. If we want racism to ever truly go away everyone needs to become tolerant of everyone. There is a lot of hate in this world and America is no different, if racism is going to die this is the first problem the nation needs to fix.
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