Racism in America: Past, Present and Future
Google Racism. Immediately, thousands of images will pop up. As you scroll through, you can’t help but to notice a majority of the images displayed are old, almost 60 years old to be exact. Anyone would infer from the outdated images of African Americans being beaten, the 60’s era signs saying “Whites Only”, and the grainy black and white images of Dr. Martin Luther King speaking publicly, that racism is a thing of the past. For how could it not be? Even Google, the largest search engine in the world, cannot find a recent picture of “racism”. This question of the existence of racism in our country today was the entire premise behind the book I analyzed called Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria. This book was authored by Beverly Tatum, current president of Spelman College, and considered to be extremely well educated on the psychology of racism. In her book, she challenges the common belief that racism was widely eradicated after the Civil Rights Movement, and she goes on to point out how despite countless studies, many people refuse to believe our country still holds prejudices against minorities. Racism has been deeply ceded in the fabric of this country since the beginning of time. While our country has made tremendous progress in reducing racial inequities and discriminatory practices, we still have a long way to go. Beverly Tatum introduces her book by describing a typical high school cafeteria at lunch time. She highlights the obvious fact that all of the black teenagers are sitting together, and sectioned off from the white population that dominates the middle area of the cafeteria. It is as if an invisible line has been drawn between the white students and the black students, and for now, no one has the courage to try and cross it. Tatum points out that it didn’t used to be that way, if you were to observe an elementary school cafeteria, you would see that racial grouping is practically nonexistent and children of all types of ethnicities are sitting together, laughing and conversing. This simple lunch time scenario is all too common across high schools in the United States, and it illustrates one of the biggest challenges our country has yet to overcome, racism. The type of racism in this country has converted from active racism to a more passive form. It is no longer socially acceptable in this country to use the “n word”, or to allot different races different restrooms and changing areas. But with all the progress we have made in creating an equal world for all races, we still see discrimination and blatant prejudice in various aspects of minority’s lives. This new type of racism is much more subtle, laws against it are harder to enforce, and often times, even those who’s suffering and hardship results from passive racism do not realize it. To understand exactly how our country is still affected by racism today, we must look to the past for clues on exactly how racial dynamics came to be, in other words, the racial formation of our country. Racism has been an issue since before our country was officially dubbed the United States of America. The British introduced slavery to the colonies, hoping that it would increase agricultural and cash crop exports, therefore increasing the profit they made off of the colonies. Winning our independence and becoming the country we are today had no impact on the way we treated the African Americans. They devalued, treated like they were less than human, and traded as if they were working animals. Slavery is a great example of a racial project because it accurately represents the racial dynamics of the United States at the time. Slavery was justified by assertions that Blacks were an inferior race. Equality made little progress until the Civil War when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves. Unfortunately, many states still found ways to quash the rights of African...
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