Racism and the Effects in Yesterday’s, Today’s and Tomorrow’s Society

Racism, especially over the past few years, has become something that is being expressed in more subtle and understated ways than ever before, and this may be because of the fact that today, more and more ‘whites’ are disowning the concepts of racism, and are at the same time proclaiming that theirs is an ‘egalitarian’ society, where all men are born equal. Racism and its impact have been felt all over the world and the innate struggles and tussles that racism involves are being felt not only in the United States of America but also across the entire world.Racism and its impact have been felt all over the world and the innate struggles and tussles that racism involves are being felt not only in the United States of America but also across the entire world.

In the United States of America, racism has been in a particularly virulent form, and this may be because of the undeniable fact that America has been built on the labor of African slaves, and also on the labor obtained by the exploitation of poor immigrants.In the year 1860, there was a Civil War that was ought to demand the abolition of slavery, and this did end the cruelty of slavery. However, during and after the defeat of Post War reconstruction, both capitalists as well as plantation owners subjected ‘Black People’ to a sort of ‘semi-slavery’, and this continued until the Mass Struggles by the African-Americans that came into force during the middle of the 1950’s. Perlo, 1) Racism, especially over the past few years, has become something that is being expressed in more subtle and understated ways than ever before, and this may be because of the fact that today, more and more ‘whites’ are disowning the concepts of racism, and are at the same time proclaiming that theirs is an ‘egalitarian’ society, where all men are born equal.

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However, certain behavioral patterns and ideas are indeed embedded in their very psyche, so that even though they state that they do not believe in racism, their behaviors would indicate that they do. Bynon; Cleary; Hamilton; Maller; Melior; Watson, 46) When a study was conducted to assess students’ feelings on the subject of racism, it was found that even Universities are not at all immune to the tenets of racism and all that it entails. This is true despite all the numerous legislations that have been passed over the years on the subject of Civil Rights, and racism even today remains one of the most pressing and ever present problems in the United States of America and in the society.

(Allen, Annette M; Brackett, Kimberly P; Marcus, Ann; Mullins, Larry C; Pruett, Daniel W; Tang, 22)It is a sad fact that racism and the various forms of prejudices that it entails have been in existence among mankind throughout history. Another sad fact is that the fear of the unknown is indeed a widely recognized fear, and the fear of the unknown also includes fear of strangers, and throughout history, there have been instances when people have sharpened their defenses and fortified their weaknesses so that they would be better able to deal with strangers who were trying to approach them for some reason or the other, and all this was done so that they would remain safe within their four walls.This notion has, in fact led to the starting of more than a few wars over the years, and also ended up in killing more than a few millions of people over the years. There was, amazingly, a concept during older times, that there were two human races, one of which was ‘white’, and one, another color. (The History of Racism) It was also believed that the white race was both physically as well as mentally quite superior to the other race, and that all the others were inferior.For example, Ernest Renan stated that the ‘blacks’ of Africa, the aborigines of Australia, and the ‘Indians’ of America were all people who belonged to this ‘inferior’ race, whereas all the others belonged to the ‘superior’ white race. When Christopher Columbus set out on his historic journey, and discovered what he then named ‘Indians’, he was in fact surprised that these were also people, just like the Europeans that he was familiar with until then.

However, these indigenous people were considered to be more ‘animals’ without a soul, than human beings, and they were eliminated as was seen fit at that time, today, there are very few of these Native Americans in existence any more. Another racist idea that was entirely discriminatory and also deeply unethical was that of Adolf Hitler in Germany during the middle years of the 1990’s. Born in the year 1889, Adolph Hitler was not only hot-tempered but also ‘selfish and lazy’.His father was a drunkard, and the young boy grew up in a less than suitable environment for a boy of his age, and he later traveled to Vienna to attempt to eke out a living as a painter.

It was in Vienna that the young Hitler managed to build up a strong feeling of hatred for Jews, and this resulted, in later years, to the widely launched campaign against not only Jews, but also against communists, the handicapped, gypsies, and also homosexuals. Hitler made concentration camps where Jews were brought in large numbers to be killed or ‘exterminated’, and during many such campaigns, more than six million Jews were killed.This was Racism at its peak. (The History of Racism) Racism existed all around the world, including during ancient times. What exactly does racism signify, and why is so mush of racism and bias based on the color of a person’s skin, and on facial features and not on any other physical aspects like height and stature? One of the perfect early examples of racism at its peak was the ‘caste system’ of ancient India, which as a matter of fact, exists even today.The Hindu religion has the fair skinned Brahmins as religious heads and leaders, whereas the darker skinned groups of people, who are thought of as being so low that they were referred to as ‘untouchables’, are considered to be vastly inferior to the whites, and are treated accordingly. (Early History) In the same way, ancient Egyptians, who were in fact very well aware of the physical differences between human beings, also showed racism where they distinguished the ethnicity of the several different groups of Egyptians.

Redheaded people were more often than not murdered because they were thought of as being ‘evil’. Similarly, Ancient Greeks also demonstrated racism, even though they were also, like the Egyptians, aware of all the physical differences in human beings. For example, Herodotus from 484-425 BC is known to have labeled black skinned people as being ‘Ethiopian’, which in Greek meant ‘burnt-faced’. Interestingly, the word ‘barbarian’, who means uncultured, stems from the Greek usage of the word that, meant a person who was ‘not Greek’.In other words, anyone who was not as cultured and sophisticated as a Greek was called a ‘barbarian’.

In the time before the Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment, the differences between men was marked by their various modes of ethnic descent, and most of the time, these differences were more religious than racial. One example of a religious war that was carried out in the name of religion was the ‘Crusades’, and there is a widespread belief that the Crusades were in fact a sort of example for the later persecution of Jews in Germany in 1196 AD.The Spanish Inquisition was another cause for which numerous people lost their precious lives, in the name of racism and racist spirit. (Early History) As far as America is concerned, one of the most important events that played a crucial role in the development of the country was the arrival of Africans to Jamestown, in the year 1619, when a Dutch trader exchanged a full cargo load of Africans for food.These Africans became what was known as ‘slaves’ or in other words, indentured servants, who were quite inadvertently similar to those poor Englishmen who had to put in several years of hard labor in order to gain a passage into America.

However, it was not until the year 1680 that the concept of the most popular race-based slave system caught on, and at the same time, the word ‘slave’ entered the Southern vocabulary as being a technical and acknowledged word in the trade and politics and law of the time. Chronology on the History of Slavery 1619 to 1789) When tobacco planting became a successful enterprise, and more people were needed to run the business, the slavery of Africans became actually legalized in the states of Virginia and Maryland, and since the very economy of these states had to depend on the Africans for survival, the number of African slaves started to grow in number, and soon there were many slaves in these states as well as in the surrounding ones.During the next years, that is, from 1650 to 1750, the very face of slavery began to change, and those slaves who had been referred to as ‘tawny Indians’ came to be known as ‘black moor Africans’, and in the meantime, the ethnic Indians of America, whose race was unsuitable for hard labor and for agriculture, began to reduce in numbers, and after numerous colonial wars were waged against these people, like for example, the Pequot’s, the Tuscarora’s, and the Yamasees. Many of these people were also enslaved and captured and relocated to unknown parts.

This was racism at its worst. The enslaved Africans and the native Indians began to get closer to each other, and started to share certain ethic traditions between themselves, and soon, they started to marry each other, especially because of the disproportionate number of African males to females. A number of red-black people began to emerge from these unions, and these people formed traditions of their own.

However, slavery continued to flourish and all these people were technically termed slaves.Having decided to take matters into their own hands to protest against the indignities being perpetrated against them in the name of slavery, Africans, Cherokees or Native Americans, and also Irish workers put up small acts of resistance and revolutions. (Chronology on the History of Slavery 1619 to 1789) In the year 1790, in the United States of America, a census revealed that about 19% of the entire population of the country, that is, about 757,000 people, was comprised of African slaves, out of which about 3% were free from the bonds of slavery.It was in 1790 that the slave uprising against slavery happened in Haiti, where both leaders as well as slaves were black.

There were a number of ‘free coloreds’ who were either of African origin, or of French descent, being planters and traders for the most part. These people had finally stepped up to demand their rights as citizens, at par with ‘whites’. In Paris, a declaration was passed to the effect that all freeborn coloreds would be able to enjoy full rights that was equal to the rights enjoyed by whites. Saint Dominguez, where the revolt broke out, refused to publish the Declaration, and this resulted in a second rebellion.This was the start of the end of slavery, and there were revolts and rebellions elsewhere in the country to demand for equal rights and the abolition of the cruel racist practice of slavery.

(Chronology on the History of Slavery 1790 to 1829) The 1830 Census revealed that there were now about five ‘free colored persons’ in an average household of twenty-five people. The ‘free Negroes’ were of several classes themselves, and these were: those whose ancestors had never been slaves, those born of free parents or of free mothers, those who had succeeded in buying their own freedom, and successful runaways.However, evidence of freedom was supposed to be produced, and also had to post a bond of $1000 to prove that he was a person of good character, and this had to be attested to by five whites. The famous quote by the Former President of America, Quincy Adams, when asked by a young French Magistrate whether slavery was a great plague for the United States, was that it was indeed the root of ‘almost all the troubles of the present and the fears for the future’.It was not until 1862, however, that after mass uprisings and revolts, the President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln signed a Declaration that would end ‘slavery’ in the District of Columbia, and this Act brought to an end the ‘national shame’ of the despicable tradition of slavery and human bondage.

(Chronology on the History of Slavery 1830 to the end) Since it has been seen that racism is the belief in the superiority of one particular racial group over others, and a basic structure of society involves the enactment of all the basic rules and regulations that that society believes in, and these rules may dvantage certain racial groups while at the same time disadvantaging certain others. (Race, Racism, and Society: An Interdisciplinary Strategic Initiative for Emory University) An example of the impact of racism on society can be seen in an example provided by authors Ricardo Ainslie and Kalina Brabeck in their treatise on Texas and the racial segregation in Texas in their journal article entitled “Race Murder and Community Trauma: psychoanalysis and Ethnography in exploring the Impact of the Killing of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas”. Ainslie; Brabeck, 115) Ricardo Ainslie has in fact worked in three small Texas communities, and these communities revealed the extent to which racism had been causing conflicts among the people of that society. This was a community that had been almost entirely white before the Civil War, and was today, mostly inhabited by the minority community, the Latinos. The impact of racial segregation was being felt even in certain schools of the community, and most African Americans were extremely unhappy with the educational system with relevance to minority communities, within their community. Ainslie; Brabeck, 115) In a similar manner, a study conducted by a number of researchers for the purpose of examining the issue of racial segregation on campus revealed that racism was still one of the most pressing problems being faced by the citizens of the USA, even today, and this despite all the civil rights legislations that have been passed over the years on this very issue.

No setting is immune to racism, including a college campus, and it is very evident from the starting point at ‘admissions’, then on the campus, in the syllabus, in sports and other interactions, and also in the student society as a whole.The specialized idea of hate crimes that has its basis in racial segregation is thought to have originated from racial issues, and although the targets and the severity of the crimes may vary, it is a fact that these crimes do exist even today, when the world is supposed to be fast progressing. (Allen, Annette M; Brackett, Kimberly P; Marcus, Ann; Mullins, Larry C; Pruett, Daniel W; Tang, 23) Any attempts to curtail the perpetration of these crimes have not been met with success, like for example, the curtailment of inflammatory speeches and presentations in the year 1993.

It was also found that though the majority of students on campus did have attitudes that were not compatible with modern racism, it was also revealed that the ‘white’ student’s prejudices were in fact on the rise, while on campus. The tragic part was that most minorities were keenly aware of the discriminations that were being meted out to them, not only by their peers, but also by Lecturers and the rest of the staff of the colleges. Allen, Annette M; Brackett, Kimberly P; Marcus, Ann; Mullins, Larry C; Pruett, Daniel W; Tang, 23) Violence in Northern Ireland has in fact stemmed from the impact of racism and racist cultures and discrimination against the Irish for a great many years, and today, when Ireland is struggling to come to terms with the deep seated impact that the violence of the past few centuries may have left on the future generations, and the impact of the racism and violence on Irish society today, help is indeed needed for these traumatized people of the helpless nation.

Gallagher, 12) Two Books have been written on the sexual abuse of Africans in American society today, entitled ‘No Secrets, no lies, how Black families can heal from Sexual Abuse’, by Robin D Stone, and the other, ‘Black Sexual Politics, African Americans, gender and the New Racism’, by Patricia Hill Collins Rutledge. Both these books deal with how blacks have been trying to cope with numerous types of abuse meted out to them because of racist beliefs and racist behaviors.Both the books have one same theme, that of the silence that shrouds the family members of the victims of sexual abuse in the black community, and how this very silence leads to the development and build up of more and more gender and racist bias, and how this also leads to the phenomenon of heterosexism among Africans in America. (Jones, 5) Robin Stone talks about the number of people who have had to suffer such assaults and abuse some time in their lives, and how they would have to inevitably face the truth of these assaults in order to begin healing their mind and body and spirit.Sexual abuse as such happens throughout human society, and it is only when there is a backdrop of racism against it that it becomes taboo to discuss it in public, and even within the black community.

It has been noticed that even if such incidents were to be reported to the police, it would only tend to stoke the fires of racism and expose the families to those people like social workers and policemen and others who have been traditionally opposed as well as hostile to ‘blacks’ over the ages.Patricia Hall, on the other hand, talks about stereotyping and the toll that this phenomenon takes on the psyche of a black person, and how all the old racist tendencies as well as bigotries have only changed in form but not actually in impact that they have upon blacks and other minorities. (Jones, 5) The stereotypes that she refers to are the over sexed and extremely strong black women as opposed to the weak and emasculated black men, whose very images challenge the people of today, who although they profess to be free from such racist images and pictures, do tend to, still, contribute their mite to these images.In addition, these images are channeled in such ways that they become destructive after a certain point of time. (Jones, 6) The true fact is that racism as such has entered all the various major institutions of American society, and it has also managed to leave its mark on all aspects of history. There are some people, however, who state that racism as such is disappearing in American society; they are all wrong, because of the fact that the idea is so embedded in the American psyche that nothing can uproot it from its moorings. Weinberg, 11) A number of autobiographies as well as biographies written by prominent people of America have shown that the various ethnicities in America reveal the ‘across the board’ type of racism that is becoming increasingly evident today. This is more evident in the stories of several successful people, who reveal the many types of discriminations that they have been facing and are still facing in American society.

In America, there is another important aspect to racism not evident elsewhere, and this is the fact that the entries by more ethnic groups into the country allows Americans to compare and contrast the differences between races and groups, and this leads to more discriminations, because, after all, at the heart of racism lies the absolute and complete refusal to acknowledge and accept the equal human worth of several different types and races of human beings.This factor becomes even more unacceptable and harmful when either a government force or an economic power attempts to back up such ideas, and thereafter, racism becomes an idea by which the inferior and the superior are virtually separated by other more powerful forces. (Weinberg, 11) One of the most important attitudes exhibited by the white man in America is that he fully believed in the concept that the emancipation of black people from slavery would lead to racial intermingling and a mixing of races.However, no one single individual was able to point out the reasons why they all thought that this was inevitable, especially when it has been proved that today, after emancipation more than a century and a half ago, the rate of intermingling and mixing has actually decreased rather than increased. Then why do many Americans still to this date adhere to this idea the emancipation of blacks would cause an increase in their intermingling.Maybe he only reason why this has happened may be that White Americans had in fact invested a lot of hopes and dreams in their country, and if the darker side of the nation were to be come into evidence, then maybe it would be proved to the entire world that it was sheer animal sex that was attempting to rule this great country. Whatever the reasons, there is no doubt that racism still exists, to this day, in today’s emancipated society, and the time has now come for more people to accept this fact and change things in whatever ways that they can.

(Jordan, 126)

Author: Dominic Phelps


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