Racism Essay

1443 words - 6 pages

Racism Racism is making the race of others a factor in attitudes or actions concerning them. Racism suggests an opinion in the superiority of one's own race. Racism includes prejudice and discrimination, because prejudice means to pre-judge, to form an opinion about someone or something without knowing the facts, and discrimination means actions based on prejudice. Racism exists because of the actions of individuals who either make or do discriminatory things, or who allow them to continue. Any person can be prejudiced or discriminate, but must belong to a group that has organizational power in order to be racist. One important thing to remember is that intention is not an essential factor in racism. It is an effect of a behavior, practice, or law that determines whether it is racist.The history of racism in the United States is largely the history of people of color, mostly African Americans. It was the growth of American slavery and slave trade that started the concept of racism. The abuse of blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians continued racism. Throughout history, racism has been a part of the laws and practices in this country. The history of racism in the United States will lead us to understand how it affects us in today's society.Slavery had existed throughout human history, but mainly because of war until the eleventh century. Then, race became the main basis for slavery in the fifteenth century. After the Americas were discovered, the colonies decided to abandon the idea of using the Indians for slaves because they were more familiar with the land and could run away easier. Indentured servants, contract laborers, and Africans were brought to the colonies to work on the plantations. Some prejudices did exist in the colonies, but mostly among the wealthy, and discrimination was usually based on class rather than race. Until 1630 there wasn't really a clear definition of the term slave. In public records blacks were referred to as servants. Things changed in the 1660's when Europe's demand for crops increased. The English colonies decided that African slavery was the answer. Because, they were cheaper, more in number, stronger, and more adaptable. Meanwhile they also decided that extinction would be the fate of the Indians. They felt that it was easier to conquer them than civilize them. It was thought that the theft of land and labor would lead them to wealth. In order to justify the immoral enslavement and killing the concept of racism was developed. The Europeans needed to convince themselves that other races were less than human so they would have an excuse for treating them inhumane.Massachusetts became the first colony to pass laws establishing slavery in 1641, and other colonies soon followed. Under these laws a person's legal status was determined by race, and blacks were made slaves for life. For the next hundred years the slave trade flourished. The number of African slaves in the colonies grew to half a million. In...

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