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Role of Racism in America

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Even though activist Frances Wright once wrote “equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without,” Americans have failed to achieve equality for all citizens since the Civil War since racism in America is still a problem. In the Oxford Dictionary, racism is defined as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” American history has a long and cruel background when it comes to oppressing minorities based on this idea of differences in race. Whether they are African Americans, Jewish people, Natives, Hispanics or perhaps Arabic, at some point throughout history, they all have been targeted harshly simply because their skin tone is not white. Even though the state of racism has improved since prior to the Civil War era, sadly still to this day there is major inequality present between the white majority and the minorities.

For this reason, Americans are prevented from moving closer to an equal society for all. Protest that go against police brutality, stereotypes, and the war on drugs, have a huge impact and sadly prevent the United States from moving towards an equal society for all. Ever since society first recognized that there are several groups of races that exist, racism in the form of cultural prejudice has been present. This racial emphasis began to be a huge controversy and was supported by imperialism and slavery. In fact, “most blacks, of course, were slaves, but even free blacks found themselves excluded from the new economic opportunities.” Even though this is the case, religion and science have both been exploited to justify racism. For instance, the concept of Social Darwinism which is the application of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection to human societies.” With this in mind, one must acknowledge that it uses the ““survival of the fittest” to justify class distinctions and to explain poverty.” This placed the black race at the very bottom while whites were valued at the top. Tragically, this leads to black people being viewed and treated as subhuman and animalistic beings. As if they could not be natural leaders like the Nordic Europeans since they were simply incapable of higher thought. Social Darwinism can be viewed similarly to the Eugenics movement in the Progressive Era. Here we see the same ideals have not completely departed from social or political realms. Even in today society, America’s segregation policies cannot help but echo old thoughts.

Racism is still prevalent in American and continues to affect the country culturally, institutionally, economically and socially. Even after all the horrifying events that relate to race and have taken place prior to the Civil War, Americans still lack the realization racism is morally wrong. Being racist towards others different from you does not only hinder the pursuit of equality, it also destroys ones self-esteem and identity. This kind of abuse easily takes a toll on one’s health, finances, and social life while violating the fundamental of freedom and their human rights, “principles so fundamental that no government has the right to violate them.” In relation to this, as we learned in lecture “the fear of racial violence continued throughout the 1990s and may have been a contributing factor to the OJ Simpson verdict in 1995, which also turned into an examination of pervasive racism in the police force in Los Angeles and by extension the racism in America” Even though Americans finally came to the realization of the significance of being dedicated to “the ideals of the Four Freedoms but also the principle that Americans of all races, religions and national origins could enjoy those freedoms equally,” racism is still a serious issue simply because Americans have been treating the evidence of racism rather than tackling the underlying causes head-on. With this in mind, an easier way to comprehend this idea is to view it as if Americans have been doctoring these problems related to racism as if it were the pain accompanied by breaking a bone. It seems as if their goal is to treat or reduce the excruciating pain instead of fixing it from the start by breaking the bone back in place. It is clear that Americans justify the fact that racism is not being addressed because they believe it is no longer an issue within their country. Or, they entrust that if nothing were addressed, perhaps it would go away on its own. Even though this might be the case, the country can work together towards equality for all by addressing the root causes of racism within the United States by ensuring everyone knows how serious this matter is. As we learned throughout this course, the causes of racism in the United States can be linked as far back to the historic patterns of colonialism and discrimination. For instance, the immediate judgment that was present during the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation. Here Europeans found themselves in increased contact with races different from themselves, leading them to judgment then violence.

Unfortunately, this violence and mistreatment completely justified the enslaving of Africans. We also cannot forget the fact at during the start of the 17th century, laws were set that absolutely forbid the union between blacks and whites and oppressed the idea of having mixed race children. As we discussed in Unit 7 when it came to black men “many white Americans considered them a dangerous threat, especially to their daughters.” These laws “were found in northern as well as southern colonies and states. But they had little significance in the North because there were not many blacks, as there were in the South, where the laws reflected and ratified the inferior status of blacks.” Without having to clearly say so, these laws portrayed the idea that blacks were inferior. When thinking of this, one cannot help but think of the poem, “White Man’s Burden.” This poem entailed the idea that the Europeans had a moral duty to expose and abuse these helpless races to the greater culture of the whites. Like Joseph Le Conte stated in The Race Problem in the South, it was believed that “Native Americans were “rigid”, “specialized” therefore “extermination is unavoidable”” Since the Europeans thought this way, they also believed that they had the authority to take away land that was rightfully owned by the Native Americans. Like it states in Unit 6 Lecture 2, “treaties could and often were ignored for the sake of greed or neglect.” This, unfortunately, resulted in the mass displacement of Native Americans and still to this day, many are avid to regain what was forcefully stolen from them during this period. “This is obviously not cool by today’s standards. But the legacy of these actions—as well as the philosophy that defended colonialism as a moral duty—can still be felt today.

After all, we’re just two or three generations removed from this line of thinking.” “White Man’s Burden” gives us a better understanding of what motivated the horrible acts of these people. One thing we must remember is that “no matter how twisted and illogical they might be—is the first step in making sure nothing like that ever happens again” Racism continues today in the United States due to the lack of education on racial issues and is strictly based out of ignorance. The social circumstances that people are brought up to know believe that their beliefs are proper and morally acceptable. This ignorance cannot help but manifest through all the people that claim racism is no longer an issue due to the actions/progress made during the Civil Rights movement. These same people simply fail to acknowledge cultural and institutional racism that afflicts America today. It is as if Americans tend to forget that the past still holds incredible power when it comes to the future and the fact that wealth of this country was literally built on the back of these discriminated races. To fully comprehend why the world is the way it is in today’s society, one must be willing to reflect on the past for answers. Doing this will without a doubt increase cross-cultural our awareness and understanding of racism. In relation to this, one must acknowledge that racism is caused by different subjective states in the mind of the discriminator related to social context. Discrimination is simply a response to this as it can be defined as “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” A prime example that comes to mind is if a white employer were to hire another white person rather than black because they feel they are not they will not do as well of a job, even though both employer candidates are equally suited. This blind judgment cannot help affect black peoples well-being negatively. Racism is viewed and still prevalent today because reverse racism is becoming more common. This is the belief that “prejudice” and “racist” are two words that are interchangeable. Furthermore, it is the “belief that affirmative action programs discriminate against white people” They do not acknowledge the fact that racism is a concept that functions on institutional and on an individual level. Since white people have never been colonized, enslaved or were forced to segregate, they have no right to claim that other races are being racists towards them. However, that is not to say that whites never face things such as discrimination, poverty or perhaps police brutality, they just do not face these circumstances at the same level that black people do. When it comes to reverse racism in today’s society, another argument that relates to this concept is the belief that affirmative action takes away from white people. For instance, when it comes to Post Secondary schools.

Several people believe that Post Secondary schools discriminate against white students due to filling their diversity quota, resulting in scholarships and bursaries going towards the education of minority students. This understanding is completely flawed as white students/families entrust that they are more qualified and deserving compared to the minorities. Sadly enough, 65.5% of private scholarships are given to white students. Americans need to realize that affirmative action does not favour minority students but rather makes sure they are treated more equally. Like it states in our textbook, affirmative action is defined as “policy efforts to promote greater employment opportunities for minorities.” Things such as Black History Month and the channel BET is another example of an argument that white people believe are racist towards them. “Its cultural refuge exists to maintain and cultivate culture that was assimilated into current society, so people can survive. For the most part, all history is white history. The implementation of Black History Month introduces a viewpoint that cannot be overlooked.” Through education and fully comprehending what white privilege means, the current issue of racism in the United States will seize to exist. Like Clark states, white privileged is “right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities” Since we are living in a “post-racial society” Americans believe that there are advantages of being white no longer exist.

Tim Wise, a anti-racist activist does an amazing job summarizing the idea that “whites pay no price, in other words, for dismissing the claims of racism so regularly launched by persons of color, seeing as how the latter have no power to punish such disbelievers at the polls, or in the office suites, or in the schools in most cases” In today’s society, some Americans tend to misunderstand that being privileged is not based on simply wealth and status but rather is “the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have” For the United States to be one step closer to ending racism, white people must acknowledge their actions and realize that being judged/discriminated based on the colour of their skin is never an issue. Since whites make up the majority, automatically they are respected and receive the advantages of being seen as the “default” race. In relation to this, one cannot help but think of the 9/11 attacks. After this tragic day, several Arab Muslims felt obligated to apologizes for the poor actions of 19 out of 1.5 billion Muslims Whereas when a white person commits a racially charged crime, you never seem them apologizing as a race. People can be treated more equally if there is a deeper effort on education that focuses on political, intuitional, social, economic and cultural racism. It is easy to understand how racism can be viewed as a plague of society. Racism in the United States has lengthy and deep cultural and historical roots that perhaps makes it harder for the problem to be ablolished. Even though polices were set in place to help ease discrimination and racism, and its main objective was to head into the direction were equality is for all, racism is still continues to be an ongoing problem where citizens neglect to realize the harm within the mindset of race. Americans are simply still dealing with the issue of racism because they are intolerant of other races, and continue to label races based on negative stereotypes. “The pursuit of equality and civil rights for all is a continuing issue in American life and politics” and hopefully in the near future, the white people will identify their role in ending racism by understanding that based on their skin color, they have obvious benefits over all minorities.

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Role of Racism in America. (2019, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from
“Role of Racism in America.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2019,
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