African American Experience
One of the most notable and prominent type of disintegration that has existed in the American society apart from imperialism that was enacted on the natives was started by the institution of slavery. It is at this time that the Africans Americans were enslaved and were considered property of the people who owned them. They were classified as any other form of property that the whites owned. Racism according to Spivey (2003) denotes oppression, atrocities and prejudice against a certain group or sect of individuals in a society by other groups of people .racism has been assumed to exist in various forms and throughout the world, it has been considered as a stumbling block on the cause of humanitarian which is the foundation of the a society that is harmonious and peaceful. The basis of racism is based on the color of the skin that is, racism against the black people in America. The African American population which according to statistics forms a significant proportion of the American population was subjected to unheard of discrimination. The civil war that was fought in America is an example of a movement that wanted to stand up to this oppression and the entire system. However, despite the war, racism went on to casting a shadow over the nation of America and its progress (Self, 2003).
According to Weatherford (2000) race has been considered as a concept which is considered societal, according to this author, race has nothing to do with genetics and there is no one single gene or characteristic composition that is more in a specific race in comparison to the other. To the Americans, race has played a very big role in trying to explain why some Americans would be denied a number of rights and freedoms which some Americans who were considered to be more important than the rest or of a different class did not even have to fight for, the rights were delivered to them freely. Some of these assumptions held on irrespective of them being proved definitely misguiding. The position of the African American today in relation to education, wealth and a number of factors is greatly defined by where their journey started and it is this journey that this paper tends to explore and explain the various relationships that exist between the groups that were considered dominant and those that are presumed to be subordinates (Alexander, 2005). The black population was brought into America by the Europeans in the 1600s.As the whites flourished in America, the issue of slavery in America became so deep-rooted and the period between 1619 to 1865 experienced tremendous racism in America which was especially directed to the harassing the African Americans.
The end of the civil war was followed by laws that were drafted by the government which severely sidelined and prejudiced the black population. It was considered a competition against the states as each tried to outdo the other in relation to inflicting pain and misery on the people that should have been considered as their own (Spivey, 2003). Slavery was first legalized by the state of Massachusetts in 1641 and most of the eighteenth century was faced by an upheaval in the US. It is at this time that human rights issues started to gain ground and in order to hamper the policies that were being forwarded by the Britons, in addition a number of African American civil rights were considered. A number of slaves were even freed but sadly the position and the status of the black man never got any better especially when the Americans got an upper hand in their independence quest. Attacks increased against blacks and all those whites who were associated with them. Violence, prejudice and corruption against the blacks increased, they were even intimidated from voting. The Ku Klux Klan that was founded in 1867 increased their terrorist activities against the African American population and the black community members were brutally murdered. The 1873 and 1874 Colfax, the southern states and Coushatta massacres are some of the illustrations illustrating the brutal assaults that were launched against the black community. At this time, for every three whites that were killed, forty to fifty African Americans would lose their lives; this was the fact that was suppressed from the world till the early twentieth center when historians unearthed the facts (Kivel, 2002).
As Alexander (2005) notes, the African Americans were so desperate in the southern parts of America that they decide to move to other regions. In combination to the growing population in the northern parts of the United States, a movement was formed geared towards fighting violence and discrimination. The civil rights movement of 1954-1968 was formed with the aim of getting rid of racial discrimination especially in the southern parts of the United States where the practice was very rampant. Marches in the streets of Washington for freedom and jobs mounted a lot of significant pressure on president John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The pressure led to Johnson supporting the Civil Rights Act Of 1964 which brought an end to the discrimination in labor unions, employment and accommodation in public places. The pick of this movement was signified by the famous Martin Luther King Junior speech of “I Have a Dream” that was delivered at the steps of the grand Lincoln Memorial. From this, economical and political rights were granted to the African Americans (Kleg, 2008).
As the African Americans tried to forge their way as a population in the slavery leviathan as a process of trying to bring an expansion to the level of democracy to all American citizens, the African Americans have considered it a central factor to this struggle. Despite freedom referring and implying to a number of varying ideologies, to different people and at different times, it has been termed to as a golden tapestry to the history of ht African Americans. In the 1960s, freedom was considered and was represented by the cries of the civil rights movement. This was made visible by two major expressions, the freedom riders and the freedom summer. The freedom riders denoted the white and black young people who would ride in buses that were integrated through the segregated southern states in 1961. The riders ensured that they rode through the regions and areas that were considered to have prominent cases of disintegration and discrimination (Spivey, 2003). The concept of the freedom riders is said to have originated from a 1940s CORE a non violent group in Chicago that was aiming at bringing a stop to violence and end racial discrimination. And to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to end racial discrimination in interstate level, CORE sponsored the freedom rider which they referred to as the journey of reconciliation. The ride portrayed that no incidence would be caused by any person as long as they chose and decided where to sit.
According to Self (2003), the black population that lived in Mississippi had no representation in the government. They were considered uneducated and poor and of no significance in the government. Mississippi of all the southern states was considered a terrorist ground; this is because those people who were ruling in this state only knew to do so by use of force. Freedom summer referred to the legendary summer when hundreds of black college students from the north marched to the south to work with local black leaders and a couple of SNCC activists to assist in the registration of voters in Mississippi. The 1964 summer marked the climax of voter registration in the south that had started in 1961. The college student who majority of them were of white origin descended on Mississippi and a number of southern states with the goal of bringing to an end the longtime disfranchisement of the African Americans politically in these parts. Despite the fact that the voting right had been won by black men in 1870, the Fifth Amendment made I impossible for them to practice the right in the following one hundred years. The local officials and the white folks in the region ensured that the blacks were kept away from voting implicating formal bureaucracies such as literacy tests and poll taxes. In addition to this, cruder methods which led to intimidation and fear such as lynching and public beatings were introduced and employed often. The people’s inability to vote was considered one of the many problems that the blacks were experiencing in the racist society that surrounded them. The civil rights officials comprehended the significance of the black man voting. The whites and the locals making sure that the blacks’ voter registration was zero knew what was in store for them. They understood that an African American voting would bring an effect to social and political changes (Weatherford, 2000).
The period between 1890 -1940 was referred to as the Jim Crow era in the African American history of prejudice. There were laws that were identified to as the Jim Crow laws that included a number of state and national laws which were enacted in America and which segregated all public amenities for the whites and blacks. During this era, millions of black Americans were killed and brutalized. They were frightened to death if they vote or participated in any form of formal education (Kleg, 2008). The lynching concept in which the blacks would be publicly punished by the whites was a common occurrence and the black people would easily get hanged by their white counterparts if they were found guilty of petty offences al over America. A number of photographic evidence can be retrieved from the ‘America’s Black Holocaust Museum’ in Milwaukee. The photographs and the numerous evidences there indicate of the plight the black people had to undergo through in the hands of the whites over the years. Similarly, half of the twentieth century in America was evidenced by mass migration of the African Americans to the mid-east and northern parts of American from the southern parts that were considered very disturbed. Millions of African Americans were compelled to take this step with the urge to find a better and a lifestyle that was peaceful.
Since the American economy was generally based on slavery, classifying people to as black, brown or white was very easy. This was generally based on an arbitrary criterion which was geared towards ensuring that the blacks were denied their rights and freedoms. This denial of rights was institutionalized in the states’ policies and in everyday living, due to this; the practice became a natural way of living among many. Some researchers such as Self (2003) asserted that the grouping of people into different classes such as those of minorities was aimed at putting wealth, privileges and power into the hands of the willing whites in America. Despite the fact that race has been considered as a societal phenomenon, discrimination and racism are blatant facts that have existed throughout our history especially for those members who are considered minorities. For the black people in this country, they journey started as slaves and even when the slaves were set free and the issue of slavery came to an end, the policies that were set to discriminate against the blacks did not come to an end. As Kivel (2002) notes in his book, there was believe genetically that the blacks and some minority groups were inferior in relation to the whites. However, the various actions that the different races have taken and participated in over the years have changed this notion and all people are considered to be equal.