History of Discrimination Essay

Pages: 4 (1197 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History


The most recent U.S. Census data suggests the current White population represents 72.4% of the total (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).

The Consequences of White Hegemony

Discrimination by Europeans was so prevalent that its absence would have represented a remarkable event. If we set aside the more obvious examples, such as Native American genocide and the slave trade, we still find ample evidence of Discrimination, even between the different White ethnic groups. Immigration policy in 1790 helped set the tone of government policy when it came to race and ethnicity, since citizenship was limited to "free white person[s]" (Spickard, p. 89). African-Americans who were legally free still could not vote, own firearms, serve on juries, or testify in court against a white person and Native Americans were relegated to reservations under a paternalistic and often ruthless federal government (Spickard, 2007, p. 85).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on History of Discrimination in the Assignment

In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War the federal government took over the South in what was called Reconstruction, with the promise of land, education, and full citizenship for the newly freed slaves (Spickard, 2007, pp. 245-246). The White ruling class in the south formed the Klu Klux Klan in response, in order to frighten the former slaves back into a submissive state. Eventually, the federal government forgot the promises it had made. Indentured servitude was reinstated through the practice of sharecropping, which effectively imprisoned both Blacks and poor Whites through debt, prevented them from owning land, and precluded upward social and economic mobility. The local sheriff and laws provided the legal muscle to prevent the sharecroppers from simply leaving. Segregation took hold and the "one drop rule" created a definition of white that excluded anyone with a non-white ancestor.

In the North, the 1924 Immigration Act helped define what racial qualifications were necessary to become an American (Spickard, 2007, pp. 246-247). At the top were British immigrants who were considered American by default. Next in line were the White protestant and catholic immigrants who arrived prior to the 19th century mass migration. Lower on the ladder were the catholic Poles and Italians. On the bottom rung were the East European Jews. This hierarchy represented the ruling class in America at the time and has defined the racial divides in America ever since. The entry quotas set by the 1924 Immigration Act were purposely designed to encourage Northwest European immigration and discourage it from everywhere else.

An example of how this definition of 'whiteness' impeded the economic mobility of White ethnic minorities in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century is the Armenian community in and around Fresno, California (Spickard, 2007, p. 259). The White ruling class in California used redlining practices to segregate non-Whites throughout the state, and the Armenians were subjected to the same practice. Citizenship was denied until a court ruling decided that Armenians were 'White' enough to become naturalized citizens.


This short historical overview revealed several discriminatory practices, including environmental injustice, dual labor markets, redlining, and institutionalized discrimination. White ethnic or economic minorities were often subjected to some of the same discriminatory practices, thus preventing them from being able to improve their economic and social situations as well. These glass ceilings and glass walls, although not gender related in this case, were nevertheless prevalent. Personally, I identify most closely with the mainstream U.S. culture, but now that I'm aware of the roots of this culture I'm less likely to be a proponent.


Hagy, J.W. (1991). Mosquitoes, leeches and medicine in Charleston, South Carolina (1670-1861). Blood Coagulation and Fibrinolysis, 2, 65-68.

Min, Pyong Gap. (2002). Mass migration to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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