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Prejudice And Racial Discrimination In America

2757 words - 11 pages

 
     It has been over 500 years since Columbus sailed the ocean blue and yet the vast majority of that time has been filled with the woes, hatred and oppression of the American white man for his darker skinned brethren. If we take as our assumption that such racially motivated injustice can not be justified and should not persist then we must first understand how such an obvious imbalance came to be and what can and should be done to avert it in the future. Historically hatred was born out of fear and misunderstanding of cultural, religious and physical differences, and the economic necessities of the time. It persisted because of the even greater fear of admitting ones mistakes and the divestiture of power From African Americans when they most needed it. Even today it is diminished but not vanquished as linguistic and educational challenges combine with disagreements amongst those calling for integration to further stall our ability to achieve racial harmony. Hatred is an ancient evil that may yet be conquered through understanding.

The place to begin is of course at the beginning, when first the white man came dominate and slander the African man. For our purposes this begins back in the colonial period of America when first the African people were brought across the ocean. Back then it is not unlikely that these people were treated much like any white compelled into indentured servitude (Takaki 53-4). However it seems clear to me that these black men most certainly would have been immediate outsiders, strangers from an "uncivilized" land lacking both English and Christian customs. These men were brought here expecting to be slaves or worse, and in all probability were not prepared for even the slim chance that they could learn to be equals of the society they were thrust into. By no doubt choosing to accept the scant position given them they helped unwittingly to carve the image of the African-American as socially inferior and separate from the white to much the same degree the difference in skin would. While the blacks may have allowed the shackles to be brought in place, it was most certainly the colonial English that turned the key. The English brought with them a distaste for anything foreign and an ingrained belief in the superiority of their own customs (Takaki 26-9, 51-2). Bolstered by their belief in intrinsic differences, it was the economic necessity of the times that allowed them to overcome their inherent moral discomfort with slavery.

The simple fact of the matter is that the colonies and especially the people running them needed to make money. The north turned to manufacturing and thus needed skilled labor to succeed, something slaves were not likely to provide, but the South was better suited to agriculture particularly large cash crops of tobacco and later cotton. Once the colonies were successfully civilized that one might expect people to live a good many years, it was suddenly...

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