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Black People Seen As The Less Superior Race History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Throughout history, blacks have been seen as the less superior race compared to the “white” race. The fact that most blacks have different skin colors, looked as if they were not “humane”. Blacks have had to fight for their rights, where whites basically were handed everything. This ideology has led to whites being known as the superior race, where every other race was looked down upon. With this, came the struggle for integration which has been prevalent throughout the course of history, but with the progress blacks have made throughout history, the idea of “white supremacy” looks to have become an idea of the past.

Race has been a controversy for a long time, ultimately creating a very dark world. For a long time, whites were seen as the dominant race, and having minorities attempting to integrate, was looked at as a threat. People from different backgrounds were seen as threats and were not treated the same. “Race consciousness, and its articulation in theories of race, is largely a modern phenomenon. When European explorers in the New World “discovered” people who looked different than themselves, these “natives” challenged then existing conceptions of the origins of the human species, and raised disturbing questions as to whether all could be considered in the same “family of man” (Omi and Winant 88-96). Basically this discusses the main “root” to the problem: that people of different color were seen as almost not part of the human species but degraded lower. As stated in the quote, this is traced back all the way to when Columbus sailed to discover foreign land in the 1490’s, and not only did he discover foreign land, but he too discovered foreign “people”.

Columbus and his men compared to the men of the land were too totally different people. The people of the land saw the men and ships as “godly” figures, and brought them presents, foods, etc. With this kind of treatment these people showed, they showed their weakness towards Columbus and his men and Columbus went in and basically took control of the land, when in fact these people were living there first. The fact that these people saw these men as “Gods” goes to show the treatment whites received. These new men they discovered confused the white men: “Arguments took place over creation itself, as theories of polygenesis question whether God had made only one species of humanity. Europeans wondered if the natives of the New World were indeed human beings with redeemable souls. At stake were not only the prospects for conversion, but the types of treatment to be accorded them. The expropriation of property, the denial of political rights, the introduction of slavery and other forms of coercive labor, as well as outright extermination” (Omi and Winant 133-138). Basically the belief that these people were not human like them, led them to believe that they should not be treated the same. As stated in the quote, this lead these men becoming slaves and to do all the hard work for them in return to stay alive. These men were dumbfounded by the fact that humans could be a different color, that there was no possible way these people were anything like them.

Racism has a long path of history, where connecting with other people of different color was nonexistent. Racism is defined as the belief that one group of people with a particular biological make up is superior to other groups with a different biological make up. Racism and prejudice has always existed, but in different shapes depending on the time in history. Slavery in the United States was part of a long established system of labor dating back way before Columbus and his voyage. We are talking about the ancient times, where much of the ancient world was composed of well organized slave societies of some sort or another. Slavery can be dated back to being existed in the great civilizations of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, etc. “The business of capturing and trading enslaved people was also a fundamental part of human society throughout recorded history. Prior to the Atlantic trade of enslaved Africans to the Americas, Muslim traders out of the Middle East and Northern Africa purchased, sold, and captured millions of enslaved Africans and Central Europeans in a slave-trading network that extended from present day Hungary to Southeastern Asia and the Far East” (Davis 56-64). The fear of the unknown is a natural reaction. This idea of slavery became a cornerstone into White’s dominance over colored people, where as history progressed, more and more slavery was practiced.

The practice of slavery was first thought to be practiced in the 1600’s. “The first boatload of Africans brought were brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 by a Dutch slaver which was trying to get to the Spanish colonies further south but got blown of course. That, of course, was long before there was a United States. The Dutch sold those people to the Virginians but the Virginians did not make slaves of them. Instead they made them indentured servants, which meant that after they had worked long enough (usually seven years) to pay back the person who bought them, they were freed. This was a common way for poor people to pay for their passage when they came here from England throughout the colonial period” (Borio 56-66). The extent and impact of the large number of enslaved Africans brought to the New World, was successful in unprecedented numbers. These slaves would work the rice, tobacco, sugar, coffee and cotton plantations, and their work was everything they could have imagined. This instilled slave system created the transatlantic trade, which created a new global economy and an international world. This opened up trade never seen before, creating passages from the Americas to Africa and Europe. This resulted in the development of Europe and North America and basically the “undevelopment” of Africa and the “other” Americas. Slave’s jobs were looked at as very successful for the white race, but for the slave’s lives, this was a preview of hell.

The life of a slave throughout the course of history has been talked about as one of the most horrible treatments of human beings. Slaves were looked at as animals, beings that were well alive, but did not have the complex qualities of humans. And in their own right, these people were exactly the same as the “superior” race. The idea that their skin was a different color, much darker than the whites, created a lasting impression that slaves would never be as superior as whites. The way these people were treated was disgusting and downright sad. Slaves had no rights what so ever, they were bought like property, and also owned like property. They had to listen to everything their owners said or they could be killed or raped (in the sake of women). “The life of a slave was a life of hard work. Most slaves worked from sun-up to sundown, six days a week. Some slaves worked in the “master’s” home cleaning, cooking, or taking care of the children. Most slaves worked in fields, planting or picking corn, tobacco, or cotton. The slave owner fed them the least expensive food available usually corn meal or grits. Meat was a special treat reserved for holidays. Slaves were made to work by “overseers.” These were men who managed the slaves and beat them if they did not work hard enough. Some slaves ran away and were able to reach the North, where they could be free. Most escaped slaves did not make it very far before being chased down. Some slaves also fought back against the owners. They almost always lost their lives” (Davis 213-232). Slave’s lives were horrible, and the idea of a family was nonexistent for them. These people would be sold to wealthy white owners, and the idea of family being sold together was incorrect. Families would spilt, where mothers and father could be sold to the “Jacksons” and their children left behind could be sold to the “Smiths”. Slaves were basically not allowed to live a normal life; they were basically imprisoned and lived horrible lives.

With this enslavement that slaves went on to become accustomed too, the growth of their hatred and pride to become free throughout their time being slaves grew in vast amounts. The stories of those brave slaves, who would try to run away and become free, was very contagious throughout the slaves. White owners soon become aware of these behaviors, where slaves would rebel against them and saw change in these people. The slaves started to become very united with each other, since they were all each other had. The fact that slaves lost their families through the slave trade, becoming close with their fellow slaves felt normal since they had no other family. “The enslaved African and African-Americans resisted their masters and others in the white community as best they could without risking severe punishment or sale of themselves or family members. Perhaps the most common resistance took the form of workplace sabotage. Slaves tried to control the work pace set for them by the masters so that the least able of their group would not be whipped or sold for falling behind. Individuals also tried to gum up the works as much as possible. This could take the form of setting fire to a barn, walking a horse off a cliff, abusing tools and animals, or just doing less than careful work” (Davis 304-321). With this growing occurrence of slaves becoming very hostile and smart, many brave souls including white owners would become involved in one of the most famous events in Slavery. One of these brave souls was Harriet Tubman who created the infamous “Underground Railroad” where slaves were stolen away from their masters and brought to freedom. Legend has it that Harriet Tubman never lost a slave on these risky escapes which created her into a key part into the freedom of slaves. Through this Underground Railroad created freedom for almost 40,000 slaves from the time of 1800 to 1865. Through this period of time, came about the Presidency that created the finishing touch on freedom. President Abraham Lincoln was very well against slavery, and in their favor created the Emancipation Proclamation which was the beginning of freedom where any states that didn’t secede from the Union would declare freedom for slaves. But, this did not mean all of slavery was over, since states seceded from the Union. The real end to slavery was on December 6, 1865 when the creation of the 13th amendment of the Constitution officially abolished and prohibited slavery for good. This was the beginning of the integration of colored people to become actual human beings.

With the freedom of slaves, came many outraged people through the nation, where their beliefs heavy favored keeping slavery. As stated in the beginning of the essay, the underling fact was that “white” was seen as the superior race and no other race was seen close. Since slaves were starting to gain freedom, this looked to become a threat to the white race. These colored people had basically no rights for a long time, and the progress they made created freedom for them. This translated to these people progressing to integrating with white folks, and this was looked as a bad step for the nation. “White supremacy is an issue of great importance. If some of the colored people are not curbed in their ambition to mix their blood with that of the white race, it will not be long until there will be no such thing as definite racial lines. The Negroes are going north and settling indiscriminately among the whites. Property values are being depreciated by this influx of colored immigration. But little sympathy was shown the South when a race of colored slaves was liberated among them. The North had no conception of what it meant for the white people of the South to preserve the color and racial lines, considering the fact that in some places the population was about equally divided, and there was no cooperation from the North to be had in the struggle. But now, while the problem is still serious in the South, intolerable conditions are developing in some northern localities as the result of this migration of colored people” (White 3-12). The nation began to divide and basically sprung up because the idea of white supremacy was being threatened.

This whole argument against slavery, created a nations uprising of battle between each other due to the mixing of colored people. The fight was against the North who was against slavery, and the South who was for slavery. This idea of slaves becoming free looked to be a threat to the South, where they state the Bible supports this idea of “white supremacy”. “The Book of Genesis, in its account of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, sons of Noah, teaches the supremacy of the white race. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, but made no effort to cover him, and a curse was pronounced upon him and his posterity. Noah awoke from his wine and said, “Cursed be Canaan [Ham]; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” “God shall enlarge Japheth [the white race], and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (Gen. 9:25-27)” (White 30-38). With the Bible stating a claim like that, most people would have to not go against the Bible. But, as much as this quote looks to state this purpose, this quote could be interpreted in many ways, and the fact of changing the color lines was not specifically set in stone in the bible makes this claim very false. As stated in the Constitution, “All men are created equal”, don’t you think that these men who created this important piece of history were very familiar with the bible? The fact of the matter was that, this nation was huge, and everyone had their own opinion on the matter. The fact that slavery was breeded into our history as a nation for so long doesn’t surprise that it is still very accepted among people in the nation. These ideas could be stemmed from the creation of the KKK, a group of white racists who looked to restore white supremacy back into action, but they were not very successful since laws were created to stop these men.

As history progressed, more and more integration was seen to becoming a fact throughout the United States. In the early 1900’s, many minorities began to move from their countries to America to find a new life and land. The whole views of being one separate race was a thing of the past, and people from all over began to migrate to America. “From the early 1890’s until the passage of the immigration restrictions in 1924, southern and Europeans migrated to the United States. Industrialists used this unskilled labor to displace native-born “White” workers.” (Campbell 1020-1025). Minorities were moving in unprecedented numbers, and this fact created fear for America, where they felt they most slow this down by creating immigration restrictions. This didn’t stop them, people would sneak into the country and this created a whole new life for them in this country. “With the continued restriction of southern and eastern immigration, many African Americans began to migrate north in unprecedented numbers. Attracted by job opportunities in the expanding industries, they found themselves competing with both native “White” workers, along with foreign born European ethnics” (Campbell 1067-1075). This shows great progress for African Americans, where they were working the same jobs as white men. Tied in with all this progress of black men in the field of employment, this carried on to the field of sports.

Sports in the 20th century were becoming very popular throughout the country, whether it was baseball, football, basketball, etc. The beginning roots for these sports could be traced back to these times. Sports exemplified the ideology of white supremacy, where blacks were not allowed to participate. All sports consisted of all white men, basically displaying this idea of “white supremacy” once again. But, what really strikes the eye is that, if sports exemplified “working” men in America, weren’t minorities receiving work as well? With the strides being made, the integration of sports was looking more realistic in society. One of the most famous examples of this could be traced to the legendary Jackie Robinson. The fact that African Americans were free at this time, did not mean they had all their rights. This man Jackie Robinson, was growing up at a time when he had very little rights, but this didn’t stop him. This strong willed man, worked his way to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He became the school’s first athlete to receive varsity letters in 4 sports. This exemplified his athleticism and hard work. Due to financial problems, Jackie was forced to leave UCLA with out graduating.

“From 1942 to 1944, Robinson served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He never saw combat, however; Robinson was arrested and court-martialed during boot camp after he refused to move to the back of a segregated bus during training. He was later acquitted of the charges and received an honorable discharge. His courage and moral objection to segregation were precursors to the impact Robinson would have in major league baseball” (Robinson 7-14). This changed Jackie’s life forever, where a man of the name Branch Rickey, was looking to revolutionize baseball but he needed a man who could push himself and restrain himself through discrimination. Jackie was the perfect fit for Branch, and Jackie was integrated into the game of baseball as the first African American to play. This man is one of the most well known athletes in sports history, because not only did he bring change to the game of baseball, he brought change to the lives of African Americans.

This underlying fact of integration of sports was also seen in basketball, where many African American players were given the opportunity to play professional basketball. Basketball was not as popular as baseball and football, but integration of minorities became most prevalent, to the point where basically the whole league consisted of African Americans. But, with the fact of racism still current in America, basketball was losing interest in the fans due to the fact of the league consisting of all African Americans who fooled around and did drugs. As much as minorities were making a push in society, customers still wanted to see white players play and something needed to happen. Almost as if it were a miracle, in 1978, came a promise to the white fans that looked for the next big thing. “His name was Larry Bird, a man of poverty, hardworking individual. This was easy for white fans to connect with the man. He was looked at as the “Savior” of basketball. But, as shown in college, he had a huge rivalry with a man name Earvin Johnson who was outgoing, wealthy African American. These two men were completely opposite, but the rivalry that this presented through basketball, created a lasting effect on the perception of the white male to the black male, and vice versa” (MacMullan PG 130-135). These two men created the idea that black and whites could coexist and become integrated together. There competition and friendship brought even greater progress for the black community which could be seen today.

One of the most famous politicians in African American history was a man of the name Martin Luther King Jr. This man was the backbone for the civil rights movement and created a lasting impression upon it. He can be argued as one of the most influential figures in African American history. He was a civil rights activist who had a vision to change the perception of blacks in America. He was put to the test when, also a famous figure in history Rosa Parks made her mark on history and refused to give her seat up to a white person on a Montgomery Bus. She was arrested for breaking the segregation laws, and this was where MLK Jr. came into history. His speech to Congress was: “We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice” (Lewis 89-103). This brought a new voice to the black community, a voice that spoke for them all and gave them hope for change. With his protest being recognized by Congress, he went on to create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) consisted of many black leaders. King was elected president, and he soon began helping other communities organize their own protests against discrimination.

King began to use ideas that he gained from past figures like Gandhi with his idea of civil disobedience: peaceful protests. King Jr. became famous for his protests, with his most famous protest, occurring in front of the Lincoln Memorial: “With the importance of solving the U.S. racial problem, King joined other civil rights leaders in organizing the historic March on Washington. On August 28, 1963, an interracial assembly of more than 200,000 gathered peaceably in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial to demand equal justice for all citizens under the law. Here the crowds were uplifted by the emotional strength and prophetic quality of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he emphasized his faith that all men, someday, would be brothers” (Lewis 212-227). This is one of the most famous speeches in American history, where a few years later produced the Civil Rights Act in 1964 where segregation was diminished from public stores and far important in employment as well.

The strides that figures made dating back to when slaves still existed, but people like Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Earvin Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. created a lasting impression on the black community. In today’s age you see a very diverse world, where everyone has the same rights. Blacks are seen to have taken over the scene of sports, where some of the greatest athletes are African American. Strides have been seen in jobs, where blacks are promoted to bosses or CEOs, something you would not have seen in the past. Also in politics, where they have gained equal opportunities in Congress, Senate, and of course becoming President, where we saw the first black President in history in the 21st century. The progress these figures of the past have made through the diversity and struggle, opened many doors for many blacks in the future.

One of the first things we notice about people when we take our first look at them is: the color of their skin. Could this be the reason why race is has been such an issue throughout the course of history? Racial identity has been interpreted of being our identity. This has been obvious throughout history, but with the progress made throughout history, the idea that being white is the most powerful, looks to have become irrelevant in today’s society.

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