Anti-Racism in American Society Term Paper

Pages: 8 (3157 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Race

Anti-Racism in America

Racism is clearly one the greatest social conflicts in the United States and has been since prior to its development as a nation. The anti-racism movement has been around nearly as long, attempting to balance and eradicate the strain that racism places on progress and social peace, not to mention individual determinism. The majority of scholars give credit to racism as the standard accepted ideal, with regard to historical thought on nearly every race that has entered the United States or wishes to enter the United States in great number and yet there has also been a movement, since the inception of the America's to stand against racism as a natural part of the development of an egalitarian nation.

Aptheker xiii) the literature on anti-racism is much more difficult to locate than the literature on racism, yet it does exist and it gives evidence to a large anti-racism movement that was nearly as determined as those who would wished to maintain the standard white majority power.

Aptheker xiii) "A significant source of this view is prevailing historical literature that either omits or minimizes anti-racism or affirms racism's unchallenged acceptance."

Aptheker xiii)

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This work will discuss the nature of anti-racism and trace its roots as far back as the literature will allow in an attempt to better understand the acceptance and rejection of these egalitarian ideals. The thematic interest of this question is demonstrative of a desire to better understand the nature of racism today and why the anti-racism movement seems to have historically had less influence than what many believe to be the historical standard of racism and exclusivity of power. The work will answer the question: Why was the influence of racism greater than that of anti-racism, for so many years and is racism still the dominant sociological thought or is the culture finally seeking a more egalitarian standard and structure?

Defining Racism

Term Paper on Anti-Racism in American Society Assignment

One particularly important point of resolution is the definition of racism. A distinction must be made with regard to what it means to be a racist society, a conclusive definition the America has received for many generations. What must be understood is that racism is not exclusively the assumption that one's race, nationality or gender is superior s instead the culmination of the belief that another race, and in America dominantly the African centered race is inferior to the white race.

A belief in the superiority of one's particular culture or nation or class or sex is not the same as belief in the inherent, immutable, and significant inferiority of an entire physically characterized people, particularly in mental capacity, but also in emotional and ethical features. That is racism. It has been applied especially, but not exclusively, in connection with people of African origin. Racist notions have been applied to other people -- American Indians, for example -- and have been rejected...the central focus of racism in the United States has been upon African derived people.

Aptheker xiv)

In short, assuming superiority of one race does not inherently focus inferiority on another, one is simply a stepping stone toward the other. The inferiority assumed in racism is one that attempt to further the belief that the later is true and that a whole other race of peoples, based upon physical distinction is inherently inferior and therefore not worthy of the rights and responsibilities of the majority. Racism defined is therefore not mutable, even though many assume it occurs in degrees, and it likely does. "There is a common conception that racism is of very ancient vintage, if not coexistent with the human presence. Modern scholarly consensus, however, holds this to be false; ancient society generally seems to have been without racism."

Aptheker xv) the definition of racism through action is the denial of basic human rights or the desire to deny a physically distinct race these rights based on the belief that this race is mentally, physically and culturally inferior to the white majority. Though this has occurred hundreds if not thousands of times in action and legislation it is the culmination of limited exposure and knowledge, most frequently attempting to immediately keep the peace rather than change or develop any sort of lasting concepts of inferiority or superiority.

Though racist acts can also be derived from beliefs built in true racism, as many would argue, saying something is different is not the same as saying something is less than, even though the resulting laws and regulations give the distinct impression at varying times that this is true.

Smith 3-5) to many, and especially to those who have been separated and subjugated, based on race the concepts are one in the same as many argue the idea that "separate is not necessarily equal."

Barnes 3)

Gillette 975) in many ways this is very true as the dominant culture will allocate resources and opportunities for its own race above another and the resulting situation, as is seen in early reformation and even reactionary "Jim Crow laws" the nature of separate creating a sense of inferiority and subsequent superiority as a result of the fact that most municipalities have a difficult time allocating resources to one infrastructure, let alone two separate ones.

Barnes 132) it can be argued that those in power when given a fixed set of resources will always allocate more for its own than for others. Such policies inevitably created housing shortages for blacks, thus increasing pressure on white neighborhoods that were subject to change as residents followed the national pattern of moving to the suburbs.

Gillette 975)

Aptheker argues that racism, as well as many other previously assumed states of human existence was contrary in many ways to the development of the nation and that there was a movement from the very beginning to eradicate it, in the hopes of offering opportunity for those who could by nature of their own industry, to seek a place on the top of the ladder of capitalism and therefore social and political progress. Yet, the fact that capitalism, as a system seeks to allow others to exploit the labor force and therefore rights of others created a contradiction that was played out in racism, because by their very nature most African derived individuals were members of a forced labor class that many wished to maintain as a result of the fact that it was sadly ingrained into their economics of their entire society, in much the same way that any other tool for success was. The forced labor system was as much a part of human success as land ownership, and livestock were and transitioning away from this distinction would leave them vulnerable and at least philosophically less capable of reaching success.

The break with feudalism (and especially with its assumption of demarked, permanent status), both in religious form (the Reformation and the rise of Protestantism) and the secular form culminating in the American, French, Haitian, and Latin American revolutions, was fundamental to the questioning of racism, as of other inhibiting and invidious outlooks. Related to this was the appearance of capitalism. Here a contradictory force appeared. On the one hand, capitalism supported concepts of elitism, "rugged individualism," colonialism, and the "survival of the fittest." It had an insatiable appetite for expansion and rested upon exploitation. In the absence within capitalism of the status-fixed features of feudalism, racism (and male supremacy) provided devices for defining place, thus helping to divide and therefore weaken those forced to labor. All this tended to help initiate, welcome, and intensify racism. On the other hand, necessities of mechanization, technical advance, market expansion, individual capacity, initiative, and motivation might conflict with racist requirements and help question racism itself.... capitalism's rejection of feudalism's static and hierarchical features. The various revolutions promulgated ideas -- as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Human Rights -- that served as very significant instruments in the questioning of racism.

Aptheker xiv)

This conflict over racism, the idea that capitalism offered a rejection of feudalism and fixed inherited cast as well as a fixed idea of the right of the producer to control the labor force is at the heart of racism as a philosophical and practical standard. Another important point that argues the idea that anti-racism had a bearing on early thought is demonstrated by a greater understanding of an American ideal;

The abhorrence of the consequences of personal dependence and equation of political identity with economic autonomy have been taken to illustrate the influence of republican thought on American political culture. These beliefs sank deep roots in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America, not simply as part of an ideological inheritance, however, but because they accorded with the wide distribution of productive property that made a modicum of economic autonomy part of the lived experience of millions. (Finer xiii)

Racism that was derived of the demonstrative character of dependant labor was in constant conflict with American ideals, as it demonstrated an aspect of dependency that was… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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