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The African-American Race

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Assignment due April 1, 2012 – Eth/125

The African-American race makes up the single largest minority group in the United States. Throughout history African-Americans have fought their way through may prejudice and discriminating acts towards their race. Dealing with slavery in the beginning to being degraded by the “white” man were just some of the things they went through. But even in today’s society African-Americans are at times dealing with racism, even though many are well educated men and women who hold upstanding jobs. In some people’s eyes the education, religion, or the rights of freedom do not mean much if you are referring to people of other races. Once a race has been stereotyped by some, others seem to not be able to let go of that image.
Below is a news article I have written about African-Americans recent experiences in the U.S. One in particular is the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida. Every day I have tried to keep up with his family’s actions and what is being done to see that justice is done in this teenager’s killing.

When most of us think of race there are all kinds in the world today, but the two that stand out most is whites and blacks. It has been a very long road but finally lead to the acceptance of whites and blacks being in the same restaurants, schools, and many other places together. In the beginning blacks worked as slaves for whites, primarily in the south. The abuse and ridicule they were put through was inhuman and unjust for any human being. Through the years though, a lot has changed for the African-American race. With many standing up for their rights, such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., African-Americans do have the same rights as whites and other races. Of course they are not the only race that has gone through this but I feel this is one of the most controversy acts in America, then and now.
African-Americans have the Civil Rights Act and the people that stood behind it, to thank for their many privileges of equality and their freedom. Many that protested for civil rights lost their lives. But in 1964, it was proposed by John F. Kennedy and signed by Lyndon Johnson and it was the beginning of ending discrimination against any color, race, religion, or national origin.
Looking through history at the many accomplishments African-Americans have made is amazing. But even with everything they have accomplished, including their freedom, why is racism still an issue? Racist will never disappear from existence; they will always be somewhere saying their racists remarks and making certain races of people into stereotypes. I’m sure many in other countries would not regard Americans in that way if they knew our President. Simply because President Obama is the first African-American to be named President of the United States, does not make America racism free! Actually, I think many were very disappointed to see him enter office and I do feel it had a lot to do with his race.
Even in today’s society it seems every day we are hearing about some type of violent acts and discrimination or prejudice usually are the reasons behind them. Profiling in our country is getting extremely bad. In the past month, I have kept up with the news of a black Florida teen that was killed and no arrests have been made. The shooter is that of a Florida man who at first was called “white” and now he is said to be of Spanish descent and a minority himself. This shooting has been national news and many African-Americans are saying it is racially motivated. There have been many vigilant candlelit services for Trayvon all over the country. There has even been a march in Washington called, “Hoodies on the Hill”. Some feel the hoodies was a reason for George Zimmerman to be afraid, to be wary of Trayvon. The teen, like many teens in America, wore a hoodie as he was walking home from a neighborhood store. No one really knows what actually happened but these two and one of them is dead. Killing in itself is wrong but killing in self-defense is said to be not guilty by the law. Whether this was a killing because of racism or self-defense, I feel many people have already made up their minds about this terrible tragedy.
I am a parent also, and my heart goes out to Trayvon’s parents and family. I do not blame them one bit for wanting justice and wanting to know the truth. As this story unfolds in the media, many different stories are being told. But sadly, what many don’t see is that color should be blind. Simply because you see an African-American youth or adult wearing a hoodie does not automatically make them a criminal. Racial profiling is a very popular and dangerous weapon in America today. Everyone now is focused on what this teenager had on, could that be a reason for his killing?

Questions

• What have been the experiences of this racial group throughout U.S. history?
The experiences with this racial group, African-Americans, have been many and a lot of struggles throughout history. From the moment they entered America and were made slaves their struggle only began. They were ridiculed and some even tortured and killed simply because of their race. Africans-American fought very hard fights for their freedom and rights to vote, and to be educated like whites were doing.
• What have been the political, social, and cultural issues and concerns throughout American history?
Politically, African-Americans had no rights, in voting, education, or even their freedom. In referring to their freedom, they could not enter a restaurant except through the back entrance, they had to let all whites sit on buses before they could sit, and they could not drink at the “white” water fountains or use the “white” restrooms. Socially, most all whites did not accept blacks as their equal. The whites that did were called named and treated just as bad as the blacks were. Once the Civil Rights Acts were passed it still was hard for many whites to accept that blacks had the same rights as they did. The KKK, anti-racist group, would burn crosses in blacks yards of their home if they felt they lived to close to whites. And if any whites defended the blacks, crosses were also burned in their yards. Racism was in both races though, blacks and whites. The Black Panthers were the largest black revolutionary organization that ever existed. The Black Panthers saw every white man as being against other races, and you could not change the fact to them that all whites were not racist. Cultural issues of African-Americans were not any better than the other ways of their lives. After their freedom was reached, they still had to worry about work and getting paid equally as the white man. They were also expected to keep to themselves at school, social gatherings, and where they choose to live.

• What legislation meant to constrain race within prejudicial boundaries was enacted? How did the various groups you researched fight this legislation?
The Jim Crow Law was made for blacks to have separate but equal public facilities. This included water fountains, restrooms, school houses, churches, and restaurants. Of course, they were not equal and blacks were in turn beginning to see this. When the Civil Rights Acts went into effect it gave blacks all the rights that were taken away from them. Black fought for their rights to have everything equal for them as whites did. Black Codes were also established in the south to keep ex-slaves from being able to do certain things. It was nothing but another way of whites trying to gain control of blacks again. Blacks also could not vote, carry a firearm, and many blacks were only allowed to work in domestic farming, nothing else. Throughout history, the constitution has many laws passed as well as amendments to give everyone freedom and equal rights to all races.

• What legislation meant to alleviate prejudicial boundaries has been enacted? How did the various groups you researched promote this legislation?
Hate crimes in America had risen in several years. A bill was passed in order to help eliminate or decrease these crimes hopefully. If someone is convicted of a hate crime in today’s society their punishment is much more severe than it would have been years ago. It is also the first bill that mentions transgender. Hate crimes target particular races, sexes, gays, and lesbians, and religions. The fair housing act was put in place to give people of all races the rights and equality to apply for housing anywhere. People of all races have fought for years and continue to fight for better laws and bills to help us be fair and united to everyone. That is the key here, we should all be treated equally; race, religion, and sex should not matter. I think sometimes people forget we may be different looking on the outside but we are the same on the inside, therefore we are all equal.

References: Social Problems, Census Edition, Fourth edition, by John J. Macionis. Published by Merrill Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2012 by Pearson Education, Inc. www.history.com

References: Social Problems, Census Edition, Fourth edition, by John J. Macionis. Published by Merrill Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2012 by Pearson Education, Inc. www.history.com

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