Race is one of the most pervasive issues in post-World War II America. The gender equality movement is still ongoing, as well as the push for racial equality. The two are heavily intertwined issues, since both racial minorities and women have been systematically oppressed with backlash against their attempts for integration. The issue of race, however, is one steeped in outright violence and unapologetic hatred. While the gender divide is continually lessening, the racial divide has hardly dissipated.
The United States is a nation that was formed through the marking of difference. Some oft the first settlers, the Pilgrims, claimed their rights to the land on the basis that they were more civilized than the natives and therefore had a right to the land. This legacy of oppression carried on through American policy, with the denying of Indian’s humanity and right to their land. Michael Herr in Dispatches takes note of the racial tensions, “might as well say Vietnam was where the Trail of Tears was headed all along, the turnaround point where it would touch and come back to form a containing perimeter” (Herr, 49). Herr compares The Trail of Tears, the expulsion of American Indians from their homelands to settlements, to the Vietnam War because it is the same model of conquest against an enemy without a legitimate reason. The American soldiers did not know who they were fighting against and killed many Vietnamese that were not VietCong. The enemy was any Vietnamese person, just as the Indian nations were all enemies of the US and needed to be removed for the “civilized” people to take their land. Herr looks at the war as another instance of the United States’ racial charged
The Jim Crow laws are another example of racial discrimination in American Policy.Although Congress ratified the Fifteenth Amendment 90 years earlier, black people were still disenfranchised. “They accounted for 43% of [Mississippi]’s population, only 5% could vote. In heavily black Amite County only one voted in 1960” (Lytle, 1). Jim Crow laws prevailed in the Southern states and they did their job well. Women had to wait longer for the vote than non-white races did, but they were hardly denied the vote once they gained it. Southern state’s legislatures designed their laws specifically to keep their voting blocks primarily white. When SNCC attempted to register black voters in Mississippi, they faced attacks both verbal and violent. Once instance is when a math teacher from New York, Bob Moses “was arrested for attempting to register three voters…Soon after his release…the Sheriff’s cousin…seized Moses and brutally beat him” (1). This was not an isolated instance. Voter registers were in danger of brutality and of death while they attempted to provide a basic civil right to people who were no less of citizens than their white counterparts.
Racial profiling is a contemporary instance of the American preoccupation with racial difference. The policy of Stop-and-Frisk in major...