Racism In America

1814 Words8 Pages
The United States of America is a land where, according to Thomas Jefferson, all men are created equal, and while that ideal has been recounted a myriad of times throughout the nation’s history, to this day the people of the United States are still unequal. The country’s past is permeated with injustice and tragedy supporting the inequality of people. Whether through the forced exile of Native Americans, the enslavement of an entire race, or the atrocities committed prior to modern labor laws, the U.S.’s history exemplifies the fact that it is far perfect. Racism has recently re-entered forefront of society’s collective agenda, and, despite the passing of 55 years from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech,” it is far from a resolution.…show more content…
The closest social construct that could be considered a precursor to racism is tribalism. Ancient civilizations discriminated against each other due to cultural differences. Ancient Greeks, for example, held no regard for the color of a person’s skin, but they used it as an identifier of those who were different and were therefore, in their minds, less civilized. Discrimination based upon skin color, did not appear until the time of the Renaissance and Reformation. With the European enslavement of people from Africa came a need for a viable excuse to do so. The reason that was chosen as a means of justification for the enslavement of Africans was an interpretation of Genesis: the first book of the Bible. Europeans claimed that Africans were the descendants of Ham and were therefore condemned to be “servants unto servants” (Fredrickson). This Biblical justification for slavery lead to a continental view, later expanding to the Americas, that those with black skin were subservient to those with white. The racist moral justification for slavery quickly evolved into legal segregation and the subordination of those of African descent. Virginia, for example, decreed that slaves could be kept, for “they had heathen ancestry,” leading to the conclusion that all blacks were inherently lesser (Fredrickson). This socialization, and later…show more content…
The wealthy posses far more wealth than everyone else, and even in regards to the middle class there are major divisions. Gregory Mantosis, department director at Queens College of the City of New York, in his article Class in America, compares the lives of three people that all live within the defined zone of middle class. Harold Browning is an upper-middle class citizen who, due to his higher class at birth, was able to have tutors, go to summer camps focused on creative arts and natural sciences, and attended a prestigious preparatory school; Bob Farrell is a middle-middle class citizen that had no tutoring, attended YMCA summer camps, and attended a large regional high school in Queens with supplemental education for the SAT; Cheryl Mitchell is a black, lower-middle class citizen, who had no tutoring, went to no summer camps, and attended a large public high school. These people, who are all in the middle class, live drastically different lives, and their “difference[s] in class determin[e] … how well they are educated, what they do for a living, and what they come to expect from life” (Mantosis387). People, because of the level of wealth that they are born into, have varying degrees of education, as well as varying degrees of assistance with that education. Education, one of the best ways to move ahead in the world, is not equally distributed. Those in the upper class are given the best opportunities to succeed in
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