Race is an important social aspect that serves as an identification of one’s heritage. For decades, however, people have used racial differences as grounds for discriminating against minority groups. The prevalent racism we observe in the modern society has roots in the colonialism era of the 1400s. During that time, Europeans colonized Africans and Americans with white settlers adopting a misconception that they were superior to all other races. With this, white settlers conceived that they were the only civilized race hence their role to civilize savages. Europeans used this false notion as a justification for their inhumanity. They could enslave or take other people’s land whenever they encountered a seemingly less civilized community. This way, natural differences based on racial orientations became the basis for exploitation and discrimination in various part of the world as discussed in this paper.
As expressed, Racism prevails where an ethnic group dominates, seeks to eliminate, or excludes another or other groups based on hereditary or unalterable differences. It was not until the modern period when the earliest ideological basis of explicit racism cropped in among communities in the west. No identifiable evidence has been traced anywhere in the world before the middle ages. Most likely, the Jews-devil association among people of other races in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was the earliest signs and incidences of racism in the world. Official sanctions of racism occurred in Spain in the sixteenth century. A section of Jews faced brutal discrimination and exclusion after conversion into Christianity, treatment that went down several generations. Ever since, racism has continually undergone gradual changes while spreading to various part of the world.
The renaissance and Reformations period marked a time when the Europeans interacted with the dark pigmented Africans, Asia, and Americans whom they made judgments. Enslavement of Africans was initially in compliance with the rationale that the subjects were heathens. This remained valid until 1667 when Virginia issued a decree that Africans were to serve as slaves not because they were heathens but because they had a heathen heritage. This decree marked the change in the justification for servitude from religious to racial orientation. Racism went a notch higher in the seventeenth century when the English North America passed laws forbidding interracial marriage with the blacks. The laws further discriminated against offspring of interracial couples. Although the laws never indicated in a direct manner, they portrayed blacks as inferior and unalterably alien.
Nineteenth Century marked the age of emancipation, imperialism, and nationalism. Much of these contributed to the intensification and growth of ideological racism in the United States and Europe. Appreciably, the release of Africans and Jews from slavery and Ghettoes respectively was a result of efforts by secular and religious believers to institute human equality. Consequentially, these efforts causes intensification rather than racial diminishing as racial relationships became more competitive and less paternalistic. With developments down the years, racism reached its climax in the twentieth century. This was at what we could call overtly racist regimes characterized by laws restricting African Americans from voting in the American South. Americans were stricter on interracial marriages especially where black men sought to marry white women. Racism reached its extremes in Nazi Germany when Adolf Hitler took his cohorts to exterminate a complete ethnic group on racial based claims.
It is crucial to appreciate that racism is not natural or inevitable. History shows that people from diversified racial groups coexisted and interacted peacefully prior to the colonial era. During the Middle Ages for instance, people from the European continent looked up to the Chinese and Americans, the racial groups considered as civilly advanced. These conceptions, however, changed abruptly with colonialism taking root. Historically, racism referred to the belief that race determined human capacities, an impression that certain races are superior or inferior when it comes to performance. People would receive treatment considered appropriate for members of their racial group. The appreciation that people acquire racism not before birth but after they are born and taught it by their parents and society could serve as the basis for the battle to end racism.
Causes of Racism
Racism has been a vice in the American Society ever since the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492. World communities would certainly find relief in concreteness of the claim that racism is a thing of the past, although this is not the case. The role played by civil rights movements towards sensitization of people on human equality regardless of race is highly commendable. Unfortunately, instituting such ideologies seems not to reach the desired levels of success possibly because racism is deeply rooted among the Americans. It is a virtual passed from one generation to the next especially against people with a dark skin. This makes it difficult to scrape it all at once. Another factor behind the prominence observed with racism is the difference in economic and social classes between people of different ethnicities. These factors, complemented with lack of diversities in some areas and cities can potentially lead to hate crimes and hence injury and death.
In as much as a large percentage of racists learn it from their parents or older generations, lack of diversity in ones heritage plays an equally significant role. It is a common for people to judge things they have little knowledge or that which is unfamiliar. For instance, children raised in Wallowa County are likely to become racists because they seldom interact with minorities. There are no people of minority groups living in the area depriving the children the necessary exposure. This creates a racial environment especially if there is no sensitization against racism. Clearly, there are various causes of racism in as much as it is an acquired attribute. Factors contributing to racism are largely social in nature hence can be curbed through community sensitization.
Impact of Racism on the US Minority Groups
Racism is a major factor contributing to violence in the community. In as much as not all people may be violent racist, a fair percentage of them can turn violent. Some racist commit horrendous crimes through murder or cause injury on innocent people. For instance, members of Klux Klan, a white supremacy group bombed an all black church in 1963. This Birmingham, Alabama attack left four young Black American girls dead just because they were born black. Another example, although of a relatively lesser severe attack occurred in Orangevale, California lately in July of 2002. In this attack, a mail carrier of the Indian race died from a gunshot. The shooter who later pleaded guilty carried a confederate flag at the time of the shootings. There are thousands of incidences that demonstrate how undesirable the black Americans live because of racism.
The Native Americans: Initially, what we current know as the United States was a home to millions of natives. While seeking to acquire the Northern America, habiting natives went through series of wars, forced displacements, massacres, imposition of treaties, and denial of food rights until the whites managed to take up their land. Ideologies that justified this treatment included stereotyping the Native Americans of the time as merciless savages. Another justification was the quasi-religious doctrine that claimed divine blessing for the United States conquest of lands to the west of the Atlantic Oceans. Americans abused the treaties entered with the Native Americans soon after the acquisition of their territories. Nowadays, Native Americans still live under harsh effects of institutionalized racism.
The Blacks: The 18th century court rulings formed the foundation for racism on issues other than slavery. Institutionalized racism took root in the 19th century with legal discrimination cropping. Citizens of African decency although technically capacitated to vote, were largely targets of poll taxes, terror, and subjects to discriminatory laws. These conditions kept dark pigmented citizens highly disenfranchised particularly in the southern parts. Through this period, racism worsened than ever before. Expression of white supremacy segregation, and racial discrimination increased leading to anti-black violence. Blacks suffered from incidental lynching and race riots. These undesirable experiences forced black Americans to move from their roots in south to settle in the Northern industrial centers. A large number of them settled in cities such as New York, Boston, and Chicago at the aftermath of World War I.
Consequential to what history recognizes as “the Great Migration” tension increased in the Northern Destinations with racism cropping in. Chicago led in number of racism cases characterized by lynchings and racially based mass actions. The pressure caused by immigrants from the south probably cultivated this trend. Clearly, the most undesirable effect of racism particularly in America is injury and death. Blacks had no choice other than to live miserably because the society did not have space for them. Much of the racism activities against black Americans seemed to end after prominent African American leaders, activists, and entertainers intervened. Efforts to fight for equality and relief from racism saw black Americans protesting across the nation. This was largely under a new leadership generation of the 1960s. Under Martin Luther King many non-violent protest were successful in bringing to end desegregation and other acts of racism.
Latino Americans: Americans with a Latin ancestry also called “the Latino” or “Hispanics” have a wide racial and ethnic background even though history refers to them as a monolithic group. American Society perceive of this group as hypersexual, passionate, lazy, and violent. They are considerably macho in films, literature, music, and television. Lately, this group immigrated in to America raising a controversial concern on the subject of illegal immigrants. This trend has spurred anti-Latino sentiment in the American in areas that have no history of Hispanics. Immigration debates and political stands of American leaders on the matter continue to cause negative feelings of racism. Americans feel that Hispanic immigrants are causing pressure on public facilities to the disadvantage of the Americans. Clearly, Americans are uncomfortable with the increasing influx of the Hispanics in to their country because of stereotyping.
Middle Easterners and Muslims: Racism against this group continues to grow because of the continuing tension between the American government and the Arab World. For instance, racism and discrimination against Arab Americans took a new course in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Many other groups continue to face discrimination from the American community simply because they have some affiliation with the Arab world. Iraqis for instance faced demonization that caused hatred against Iranians and Arabs living not only in the US but also in other parts of the west. Arabs have occasionally been victims to attacks not necessarily because of religious orientations but because of their ethnicity. In addition to that, non-Arabs have in the past fallen victims to racial consequences for featuring similarities in appearance with Arabs. This shows the detrimental impact racism has on minority groups living in America.
Racism is an undesirable vice that affects people’s lives adversely. Both the racist are prone to injury or even death at extremities of racism. Discrimination based on racism leads to racial clashes that may cause damage to wealth, property, and life. It is sad that racism prevails in the modern day society despite interventions by leaders, entertainers, and activists to halt it. The consciousness that racism is an acquired vice should hold us liable for its prevalence in society. In addition, we can historically trace that it started at some given point in the world history. Since there was a world without racism, then the power to end racism lies in the hands of the people. In America for instance, all racial groups have at sometime had a bad experience with racism hence the necessity to work together towards ending it. Without Racism, America will be a habitable home for all resident groups.
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