Racism: A Theoretical Analysis

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Introduction

Theorist Rogers Smith deemed racism an inherent tradition and key component of American political culture, denoting its prominence in both the social and legal systems since the country’s inception. In the United States, societal biases on race and immigration have come to greatly influence and provoke partison divisions and federal legislation. Tali Mandelberg identifies post-Emancipation attitudes as the source for past and current tension between the Democratic and Republican parties in seeking out support from white voters disgruntled by the racial shifts. This example serves as a prototype by which attitudes of voters and, as Vesla Weaver argues, conservative politicians create institutional racism evident in political campaigns
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Compliant with Mandelberg’s discussion of racially implicit campaign advertisements, Weaver discusses Barry Goldwater’s campaign that featured televised images of riots in Harlem in 1964, warning voters of “mobs in the street” and suggesting that black militants and civil rights demonstrators will incite future violence. Violent protests in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., police brutality, and racial discrimination were framed by conservative politicians as a national crime issue. While conservatives argued that race riots - on a sharp rise from 1965 to 1969 - constituted the steady rise in the crime rate, Weaver points to other factors that may have lent to the increased crime statistic in recalling a study that correctly proposed that if factors, such as the baby boomer population and increased population, were removed--the crime rate would prove to be stable. However, the federal government cracked under conservative pressure to address the problem of crime and passed the Law Enforcement Assistance Act year??, which included provisions for federal funds allotted to state and local governments for innovating their criminal justice systems. This act, in conjunction with state crime bills and the Safe Street Act year?? established legislation that condemned any person participating in riots, with consequent prison sentences of up to four years and $10,000 fines. In addition to the legislation that ultimately targeted African American protestors for civil rights, conservatives ensured that crime legislation would be “immune from civil rights challenge” in providing that federal funds go directly to state legislators for the purpose of crime enforcement. Weaver’s discussion of the process by which conservatives capitalized on anti-Civil Rights sentiments in order to make crime
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