Racism has been a terrible problem in American society for hundreds of years. Racism issues are not limited to one specific race, but include all races. It is the responsibility of the people of this nation to address racism and learn to accept and embrace each other for our differences, and allow this great nation to become even more united for our sake and the sake of future generations. To eliminate racism it is imperative to know first, where racism started and how it has developed, why it continues to be present in our nation today, and what we must do as a people to overcome this major problem. History
The Middle Passage was the system set up as a form of triangular trade that forced millions of innocent humans from their homes in Africa, and forced them to become slaves as part of the Atlantic slave trade. These people were essentially traded as slaves for materials, food, supplies etc. Many of the enslaved Africans were shipped to the Caribbean and the Americas. The Middle Passage route began in Europe where they left with the manufactured goods and headed to Africa. The goods were then traded for the slaves, and then the ships set off for the Americas and Caribbean islands (Stoddard). After the trading was done there the ships would return back to Europe. According to Elizabeth Mancke, and Carole Shammas authors of, “The Creation of the British Atlantic World,” they write, “An estimated 15% of the Africans died at sea, with mortality rates considerably higher in Africa itself in the process of capturing and transporting indigenous peoples to the ships. The total number of African deaths directly attributable to the Middle Passage voyage is estimated at up to two million; a broader look at African deaths directly attributable to the institution of slavery from 1500 to 1900 suggests up to four million African deaths.” Historian Lisa Vox expounds on the origin of slavery in North America in her article “The Start of Slavery in North America.” Vox states that, “Historians normally date the start of slavery in the North American colonies to 1619. That year, a Dutch ship carrying African slaves docked at Point Comfort, which served as Jamestown's checkpoint for ships wanting to trade with the colonists. The crew of the Dutch ship was starving, and as John Rolfe noted in a letter to the Virginia Company's treasurer Edwin Sandys, the Dutch traded 20 African slaves for food and supplies.” It was not until the early nineteenth century that this practice was banned with a hefty penalty for those individuals that were found participating in it.
Other groups of people were affected by racism as well. When Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, he discovered the Native American Indians which he referred to as “savages.” The Europeans deemed the Native Americans as uneducated, uncivilized creatures, and treated them as such. Native Americans were manipulated and taken advantage of by the European people, and treated more like animals than human beings. This was another historical beginning of racism in America.
As America began to flourish in the mid nineteenth century, many immigrants (Irish, Chinese, Norwegians, and the Italians to name a few) flocked to the New World to seek fortune and freedom. The accumulation of many different cultures, beliefs, and ethnicities resulted in nicknaming the United States as the “melting pot.” While they were all united in their resolve to be free and determined to live the “American dream,” prejudices began to form as one race considered itself superior to the others. Americans were not happy that there were others so willing to take low pay for the jobs that they were scarcely available. There was low tolerance for different cultures and beliefs. Immigrants sought refuge and segregated themselves from one another by forming their own communities, thus resulting in “Little Italy” and “Chinatown” etc. Prejudices dissolved somewhat with the initiation of the Declaration of...
Cited: Mancke, Elizabeth and Shammas, Carole. The Creation of the British Atlantic World. 2005, page 30-1.
Merida, Kevin. “Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause.” Washingtonpost.com. Web. 13 May 2008.
Roberts, Rebecca. The 'Post-Racial ' Conversation, One Year In. Interview with Ralph Eubanks. National Public Radio: 2010. Print.
Stoddard, B., Murphy, D. Ph.D. “The Issue of Slavery”. Netplaces.com. Web. 25 April 2012
Wise, Tim. “Denial, Evasion Won’t Solve Racism.” Lexington Herald-Leader. 10 Nov. 2003.
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