Racism Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1564 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Race

Racism Now and Then the 1500s were an era of exploration, conquest and colonization. The conquest of the Americas marked the foundation and rise of capitalism and native mining required the use of African slaves (Institute for the Study of the Science of Society 2003). Race and nation began to be linked with bloodline, biology or something inherently superior or inferior (ISSS).

Race refers to a group of persons who shares genetically transmitted traits, such as skin color, hair texture, eye shape or color, or a common history, nationality or geographic distribution (Lexicon Publishing LLC 2006).

Slave trade began and the idea of white European became an important concept (Institute for the Study of the Science of Society 2003). In the 1600, sugar trade was based in the Caribbean and every two acres of sugar needed 1 African slave to work on it, 1 African slave for every 5-10 acres of cotton and 1 African slave for every 30-40 acres of corn. The rise of the concept of race in the U.S. began with a struggle to be free of colonial rule from England. This developed into a struggle between the North and South, agriculture and slavery being based in the latter. The break resulted in the Civil War. Legal slavery was abolished with the victory of Northern financiers and industries over Southern slave oligarchs but did not extinguish the ideology of race. The concept even got reinforced with the invention of the cotton gin in 1793 and its expansion, which required more land and more slaves to work on it. This not only expanded but also justified the slave system under the banner of Manifest Destiny of the U.S. imperialist expansion (ISSS).

As nations increased their wealth through overseas exploration, conquest, plunder and colonial exploitation, the concept of race and nation got intertwined with domination, conquest and exploitation of inferior peoples, especially peoples of color (Institute of the Study of the Science of Society 2003). As African slaves filled the labor needs of the Americas, the concept of race spread. It facilitated the control and exploitation of both whites and blacks. Out of fear of slave rebellion, the early colonial ruling class extended privileges to whites and tightened slave codes to keep the two groups separated (ISSS).

Under the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, progressive policies were adopted and among them were on Social Security, protective labor laws and the GI Bill (Katznelson 2005). Northern members of Congress were in dominant control of legislation on welfare, work and war and who treated African-Americans differently. Between 1945 and 1955, the federal government allotted more than $100 billion to support retirement programs and opportunities for job skills. The programs dramatically reshaped the country's social structure and left out most Blacks out of it. Farm workers and maids who were mostly blacks in the South were denied Social Security pensions and access to labor unions. The GI Bill provided for segregation in higher education, job ceilings local officials imposed on returning Black soldiers and a general unwillingness to offer loans to Blacks when these were insured by the federal government. For example, of the 3,229 GI Bill-guaranteed loans for homes, businesses and farms in Mississippi in 1947, only two were offered to Black veterans. The New Deal and the Fair Deal established and enforced public policies, which provided most white Americans with tools to protect them in their old age, good jobs, economic security, assets and middle-class status, while Black Americans were left out to fend for themselves. A full generation of federal policy enhanced the homes, suburbs, universities and skilled employment of whites and denied these benefits from Black citizens. The gap between white and Black Americans has thus greatly widened. Currently, the huge achievements of civil rights and affirmative action and wealth for the typical white family, mainly in home ownership, is said to be 10 times the average net for Blacks and considering that the majority of African-American children in American cities today subsist below the federal poverty line (Katznelson).

Racism is a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among human races determine cultural or individual achievement, superiority and inferiority. Race, racism and white supremacy have been viewed as ideas and attitudes developing out of the material conditions of society, which invented them (Brooke Heagerty and Nelson Peery as qtd in Institute for the Study of the Science of Society 2003). These ideas and attitudes grew out of the capitalist system, which dominated economic and social conditions and relations through the centuries and later spread worldwide through an expansion of imperialism. Race and racism are now very glaring realities, which characterize today's world. Findings of a research on the DNA of global human populations, however, showed that, genetically speaking, race does not exist in humans (Templeton 2006). It was a paper, entitled, " Human Races: a Genetic and Evolutionary Perspective." It said that, although there are genetic variations among human being, most of these are individual variations at 85% and do not establish or support sub-lineages of humanity. It established, instead, that notion of race only as a real cultural, political and economic concept in society, not as a biological concept. Traits spread out of Africa to all of humanity because all of humanity is genetically interconnected. Anthropologists since 1910 have fought for this kind of awareness and understanding and warned about the dangers of Nazism, especially in the 30s and the 40s, but their efforts have yet to be heard and rewarded. Former President Bill Clinton appointed a committee on race in 1997 but the membership of the committee did not include an anthropologist to sponsor the scientific reality (Templeton).

De jure racism could have been phased out in the later part of the 20th century, but it has remained and the current century must contend with de facto racism, which can take many social forms (Vorster 2002). Racism springs from prejudice, which is "more emotion, feeling and bias than... judgments." Prejudice, in turn, derives from stereotypes, drawn from traditions, group pressures, group isolation, racist propaganda, general perceptions and particular beliefs about other group members. If racism in the past was a prejudiced attitude towards a specific group, racism today manifests itself in structural violence, social stratification and an overall attitude between communities. Conflict between ethnic groups has become a basic feature of modern societies on account of diversity among populations, in turn owing to an extensive patter of migration throughout the world, such as in the U.S., Sri Lanka, India, Burundi, South Africa, Spain, Russia and former republics in the Soviet Union and Germany. This new kind of conflict is not seen as temporary in nature. Rather, Hansen's Law states that while first-generation immigrants would conserve their cultural identity within the larger community without much conflict and that second-generation immigrants would tend to assimilate with the broader culture in the region, the third generation would look retrace and preserve its roots and establish the culture of its ancestors. This would bring the third generation into conflict with the earlier generations. Migration patterns of the early 20th century largely accounted for current racial conflicts and the much larger volume of migration at the present time clearly indicates increasing and even more intense racism in the future (Vorster).

Racism hurts the psyche of those who are objects of unfair bias and this develops negative traits in them (Seeber 2001). Dr. Richard Petty and his team surveyed 86 students for racist traits and found that those who were subjected to racial stereotypes also had lower cognitive abilities, such as in mathematics. Another study showed that those who were subjected to racial stereotypes also scored lower in general knowledge and their performance went even lower as the class professor expressed more racial stereotypes. Other studies with similar objectives showed… [END OF PREVIEW]

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