Racial Inequality Essay

998 words - 4 pages

Although better today than in the past, racial inequality is a major obstacle in our society with roots deeply planted throughout history. Beginning in the 15th century, there has been a false sense of superiority among white Europeans and a negatively altered reputation of non-white groups around the globe. As Europeans first moved onto American soil, conflicts were common against the inhabitants that were already present on the new land, and it was not limited to Natives. Soon after colonizing in America, racial inequalities existed based on color of skin and has had catastrophic effects around the globe. The effects of racism are still present today, but were most prominent from the 17th to 20th centuries.
During the 17th century several laws came into effect regarding slavery and divided whites from blacks more than ever before. At first, a system of indentured servitude included both Europeans and Africans as servants. As a number of states began to legalize slavery, it became the more commonplace form of labor. First to legalize slavery was Massachusetts in 1641, followed by Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. Maryland attempted to take legalization a step further and enslave even free blacks. By 1676 it was not legal for a black hire white servants. Bacon’s Rebellion, also in 1676, resulted in an uprising of servants against rich plantation owners and many Africans were forced from servitude to slavery shortly after. By the end of the century, corporal punishment laws were put into place and allowed cruel beatings, such as whipping, of slaves.
Race in the 18th century was marked by an abundance of pro-slavery legislature and a decrease in personal freedoms for slaves. In 1705, laws passed in Virginia defined blacks as property, and this allowed for them to be bought, sold, or traded. A few states made importation of slaves illegal, like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, but did nothing to change the considerable numbers of slaves present. By the middle of the century, science introduced itself into the realm of racism. Carolus Linneaus, a European scientist, created classification system in an attempt to classify humans. The theory of polygeny was introduced, which is the assumption that different races of people are equal to different species of human. By 1770 English colonists were at the beginning of a rebellion against the English crown. Ironically, one of the first casualties of the Revolutionary War was a free black man named Crispus Attucks. George Washington took over the Continental Army in 1775, one year before America declared independence, and prohibited black soldiers to be recruited. The first US Census was administered in 1790, but slaves were only counted as three fifths of a person when used for calculating population. By the end of the century, laws were made regarding immigrants becoming citizens of the US, and at one point it was a requirement to be a resident for fourteen...

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