Race and ethnicity in the United States of America has been quite an issue that has defined the society for years end. The term race refers to the distinctions arising from the physical appearance of an individual while on the other hand the term ethnicity is used to refer to the distinctions of individuals that are centered on the nation of origin, religion and other markers that define a culture. The analysis shows the historical formation of the early ethnic and racial groups in the USA and at the same time explore the forces and circumstances that contributed immensely to their relationships. The analysis also shows that the immigration had significant effect on the living conditions and variety of ethnic groups in America.
America is believed to have been first inhabited by the present day Native Americans who are people of the Asian race. They entered America through Beringia land bridge somewhere between present days Russia and Alaska. They were later on displaced to the northern side of the country with the arrival of the whites. They survived the warfare instigated by the white settlers and thereby managing to retain their tribal cultures. However, their settlement was confined to the northern part of the country after the clash with the British (Dell 56).
The second race to arrive to the US is the white who found the native Indians present. This group was majorly comprised of the British. They were not considered as immigrants since they fell under the British Empire. They enjoyed much degree of civilization and economic power that they easily displaced the inhabitants and took control of the country’s agricultural sector. Other whites who also arrived include the Dutch, French and Germans (Sowell 29).
The black or rather Negro population forms the third race that inhabited United States at that time. They found their way to the USA territory majorly as slave workers. It was at the time when the whites needed labor force in their plantation firms that they resorted to enslaving Blacks from Africa and forced them to work for them. In the process, the black population gradually grew. However, being the primitive and uncivilized lot, their position in the society was majorly as slaves to provide hard labor to the European populace.
2. Forces and circumstances shaped relations among "the three races" that inhabited the U.S. during the time of Tocqueville
The three races that inhabited the United States include the whites, blacks and the Indians. However, the racial and ethnic relations as indicated by the history reveals that the immigrants from the white race such as those originating from protestant dominated nations like Sweden, Germany and Netherlands quite easily enjoyed dominance status. This was unlike their compatriots such as the African Americans and Native Indians. There are a number of factors, which are believed to have shaped the relations of the races as they interacted. Some are as discussed in the three paragraphs that follow (Sowell 33).
Political control/Law: The whites being much civilized, they easily exercised political control over the rest of the races. Laws were formulated that purposefully served to give an upper hand to the white population. For instance, the members of the black community were entirely cut out from any political business. This implied that they were curtailed from having their views taken into account especially concerning governance. They were made to believe that their rightful position is as subjects to the whites. The Indians to some extent were considered civilized relative to the Negro. Therefore, they enjoyed some political privileges relative to the blacks.
It is also worth noting that the whites, majorly British, had a quite well organized military with sophisticated weapons that facilitated their dominance in terms of political power. They were generally superior to other races that relied on traditional weapons (Sowell 36).
Economic power: Being much civilized, the white community were in a much better condition to use their intelligence and explore their environment for economic power. They were able to drive the Indians from their Native land northwards and take hold of the prime land. At the same time, the Negro was subjected to forced labor in the whites’ plantation farms. Consequently, the whites continued reaping political economic power at the expense of the blacks sweat.
3. How did the sharp increase in subsequent immigration alter the conditions, number, and variety of American ethnic groups?
The arrival of subsequent migrations in the United States had quite a significant impact on the social and political aspects of the demographic set up. The population significantly shot up. Since the immigrants were from different regions of the globe, the number of the ethnic groupings shot up. For instance, the ethnic groups that are much pronounced include the Hispanic or Latino Americans who originated from Spain and the region around it. Secondly are the African Americans who were from the African continent. Thirdly, we have the Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans. It also includes the Arab Americans and the Asians.
The diversity in the ethnic groupings also became a phenomenon as some ethnic groupings became absorbed to others as others slowly faded away. At the same time, new ethnic groupings were formed and this was particularly based on religion as the integration of the various religions essentially led to other beliefs. Moreover, a variety of these ethnic groupings arose. This was particularly influenced by the extent of the inter marriages that resulted with the communities interacting on several grounds such as trade and other social events.
Thomas, Sowell. (1983). Ethnic America. The New York Press
Dell, Upton. (1987). America’s architectural roots: ethnic groups that built America. Routledge