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Race Relations in the USA

Racism has existed for centuries, but during the last two hundred years hatred toward ethnic minorities or even majorities has fluctuated. Racism occurs all over the world and can happen to anyone and will always exist. There are different forms of racism which all express forms of hatred towards ethnic groups. These forms of racism, although different, all have the same main purpose, to promote hatred towards ethnic groups. America is currently full of racial problems because of the past and stereotyping. Racial problems have been around since the start of slavery.

This racial abuse which Black people have received since they were forced into slavery, is still handed out today. America today still possesses racism and prejudice, but it is not just towards the ethnic minorities but is also given to the ethnic majorities as well. This racism is not just between black and whites but is also given to all people of different ethnic groups. The programme ‘American Apartheid’ suggests that America is not an integrated society and that there is a growing rift between blacks and whites. (The Apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa.

The word apartheid” means “separateness” in the Africans language, and describes the extreme racial divisions set up by the white minority on the black population in South Africa. ) I will look into this by looking at the events of America’s past. The program was shown to illustrate the position of many Blacks in America today. It deals with issues such as housing, crime and the drugs scene, and ‘affirmative action,’ a government initiative of the 1960s to increase the numbers of Blacks in business, government departments, schools and universities.

This programme portrays America as being a segregated country, with ‘White America’ and ‘Black America. ‘ The video shows the state of Chicago and how within this state there are the vanilla suburbs and the ghettos. These segregated communities within one state show how America is segregated. On one side of the state there is the ‘Vanilla Suburbs,’ where the White middle class families migrate, they do not think of themselves as being racist but class themselves as seperated, they say they do this not because they don’t want to live in the same community as the Blacks but do it for a better life for their families.

They claim that if a Black man could ffoard it they would not be turned down from moving to these areas. On the other hand there is the south side, ghetto’s, where the Black people live. In these areas there are large tower blocks where the Blacks are confided to a life of crime to survive. The Black people form together whilst living in these areas and become gangs, the gang’s members are branded as bad people as they have to steal and deal drugs to feed their families. The gang members stick together and live as a family.

The Black people living in these areas find it hard to be employed as they are believed to be untrustworthy and they have a poor education, and the jobs hey do receive do not pay enough for them to live off, so crime is there only solution. In these areas the schools systems are poor and the Black people do not receive a good education so can therefore not get a good job. Schools in the ghetto’s will receive around around $7-8000 a year towards education where as the schools in the vanilla suburbs receive $12-15000, is this equaltiy?

This circulates the problem so that these people are in a no win situation. People are judged on where they live, and their zip codes, and they will not be concidered for loans, as they are considered a iability, to start a business as they are likley to get robbed from living in a ghetto. Although Black people are a minortity covering only 12% of the population more than half of the people in prison are black.

This sends out a negative image of the Black people which makes people become prejudice against them. 00 young Black men are arrested every week for possession of rock/crack cocaine. This does not help the institutional racism that the blacks receive as this helps build a negative picture of the poor black people living in the ghettos. There is proof that racism is still going on in America today as the eating of Rodney King shows. On the 3rd March 1991 Rodney King, a Black man, was driving through Los Angeles, California. King was stopped by four White policemen who beat him with their batons, 56 times in 81 seconds this included 6 kicks to his head.

This atrocious assault, which was entirely out of order, produced 11 skull fractures, brain damage and kidney damage. When the four men where taken to court they were found not guilty. This caused riots in Los Angeles, 54 people died, 2,383 were injured and 13,212 were arrested. It was decided that there would be a re-trial. Two of the four officers were convicted. They both each received thirty months in prison. During the Los Angeles riots a Black man called Damien Williams received 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 the maximum allowed by the Court at the time.

This Black man had to serve a sentence about 8 longer for a crime that was blatantly not as bad. This decision was purely racist and a prime example of today’s racism being linked back to the past. This has not been the only time when White figures of authority have been let off from preforming racial actions, the famous O J Simpson case where he was found not gulity of killing his wife, although a public vote showed hat most of the white population thought if he had not been famous he would have been found gulity.

The few Black people who have received an education and have professions, can move out to the suburbs, but choose not to as they have safety in numbers in the ghetto, whereas if they moved to the suburbs they will be the only Black people living their and they will feel insecure. One of these people is Lousie Farrakhan who was a public speaker who spoke to Black people telling them to stick together and organised ‘the million man march’ which mixed nationalism with Islam.

He claimed that Black people should overcome the white society. He was banished from England because of racist believes, ‘segregation not intergration. Lousie Farrakhan is just one of the few Black people that speak out against racism, following in the footsteps of other Black leaders like Martian Luther King and Malcom X. Ethnic minorities have had to deal with racial comments since the 18th century, when Africans where brought from their home lands and taken to America where they were sold as slaves. Blacks were made to work for Whites on cotton, rice and tobacoo plantations in the South as they were agricultural whereas the Northern sates were industrial so their was less demands for slaves.

By the 1860’s Whites living in the South believed that slave ownership was the basis of their whole way of life. In 1861 the 11 Southern states thought that the Government was going to abolish slavery, they departed from the union and set up their own ‘confederate states of America. ‘ This soon lead to the outbreak of the civil war, which was fought between the Northern (Yankee) and the Southern states. The war was battled by the Yankee’s for the Blacks freedom, and the Southern states for their enslavement. The Yankee’s won the civil war and made adjustments to the law: the 13th Amendment was made to ablolish salvery, the 14th

Amendment was passed in 1868 and granted Blacks full civil rights and the 15th Amendment was meant to guarantee Blacks the right to vote. Even back in the 18th century Blacks had it hard, some white people did fight for their equality, just like today, but their blood which was shed in the civil war was given in vain, as the Black’s standered of living did not improve to the state of equality. Although the war had been fought and lost, the Southern states still pertained to keep the Blacks as their inferiors and treat them as slaves. White people managed to find the loopholes in the newly made Amendments, so hey could keep their way of life.

In 1900, 95% of the USA Blacks lived in the Southern states, for these Blacks little changed after the war and still faced many hurdels in their battle of equality. The Whites were forced to change their ways but they managed to still get the better deal for introducing ‘Sharecropping’ and ‘Jim Crow Laws. ‘ As the Whites were now not allowed to ensalve the Blacks, they instead decided to ‘sharecrop’ where the Blacks would rent farms from the White plantation owners, the Blacks would then also have to buy the seeds, tools and other supplies from the White owner.

The owners would then sell the arvest and the ‘sharecroppers’ as the Black farmers were known received a ‘share’ of the profits, usually between a third and a tenth. Often Sharecroppers were hussled by the White owners by telling them that the harvest had made a loss and that would leave them in debt to the White landowner. The whites were claiming to give the Blacks civil rights but how could this be when the Blacks were only receiving a thenth of the profit for doing all of the work?

The Whites of the Southern states although bent the 13th Amendment, they chose to ignore the 14th Amendment by fusing the Blacks their civil rights. The whites soon made the ‘Jim Crow Laws’ which were laws to separate (segregate) public places and institutions. By 1914 schools, hospitals, parks, public transport, prisons, hotels, theatres, railway carriages, restraurants, wasrooms, shop enterances were segregated. These things were not the only things that were made to be segregated; the American Army and the offices of the Washington government were also segregated.

The US Supreme Court which decides whether laws are ‘unconstitutional’ accepted this system of segregation, stating in 1896 that the laws ‘did not imply he inferiority of either race to the other. ‘ But this could be questioned as for example when on the separate areas on a bus if the White seating area was full, a White man could go to the Black area and refuse a pregnant or elderly women or anyone in this area their paid seat and make them stand, but this did not work both ways which implies that the Whites were inferior. This suggest that even the political system is against the Blacks civil rights.

If Whites claimed themselves not racial and not to think themselves superior to the Blacks, then why did they make the Blacks address them as Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’ or as ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ and they reffered even the Black adults as ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ and talked openly about ‘niggers. ‘ This proves that whites thought themselves as superior to the Blacks. In their defence Whites backed their actions of hate with quotes from the bible stating that; ‘the bible actually supports this whole fixation by saying, good and pure is pretrayed as ‘white’ where bad and evil is pretrayed as ‘black.

To increase the awareness of the Whites hatred of Black people the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) was founded in 1867 to ‘keep blacks in their place. ‘ It was riganally founded by six former confederate officers, in Tennessee, who gave their secret society a name of the adapted greek work kuklos (circle). It was a strong society that grew rapidly and had millions of members and still exists today. The Klan had members who were, Judges, Juries and Police. There was no such thing as justice in America in the 1860’s.

Poor illiterate white people wanted to be a part of the Ku Klux Klan so that they wouldn’t have to be in competition with Blacks for jobs and houses. People in the Klan could get away with anything as all the law and courts were on their side. Justice did not exist. The Klan eventually died out, but was re-founded, by an ex-history teacher, William Simmons from Georgia in 1915. The Klan preached hatred and prejudice of Catholics, Jews and Blacks. They had secret rituals and wore white robes with pointed white hats.

The Klan had great following, and Blacks were always sentenced harsher punishment than Whites for similar crimes. The Klan had many approaches to premote their hatred for the ethnic minorites the Klans members specialised in beating up any blacks who tried to assert themselves, who ignored segregation’s rules or who tried to vote. The members carried out these beatings with different techneques such as whipping, burning, raping, murdering and lynching. All of these methods that the Klan used were all to premote the same idea that the Whites were superior to the Blacks.

Lynching was the most horrific of these methods. As the lynching goes a mob would remove a Black person out of their home, drag them to a nearby tree and hang and or burn them without a trial. The Klan believed this to be justice and giving the Blacks their civil rights. Hundreds of Blacks were lynched in the southern states 112 alone in 1895; 65 in 1910. It has een estimated that between 1880 and 1920 an average of two people a week were lynched in the USA. The Klan would also rape the Black women, rape is used to show superiority.

Is being raped, burned and hung showing the Whites to be superior or just power hungry? The construction of the Klan and the re-founded Klan show great racism and prejudice to the Blacks. The Whites at this time were still claiming to not be racist towards the Blacks and giving them civil rights. Black people tried to escape this treatment and discrimination by moving to a Northern state and getting a job although because of their poor education hey can only get poorly paid jobs although they were treated better and there was no segregation.

This can be reflected to how the Black people are treated in America today, as their poor education leads to them being discriminated against. When Blacks tried to legally vote, which was part of the 15th Amendment, the southen states passed laws which made it impossible for Blacks to vote. The laws stated that only those who passed literacy tests, owned property or who were voters before the civil war and their decendants were allowed to vote. The Klu Klux Klan made sure that the Blacks who tried to register o vote did not.

The White people did not want Black people to vote as this would give them power and give them a step to be equal to the Whites, which they didn’t want which shows again that they Whites are sugesting that they are superior to Black people. During the First world war black people managed to regain some self respect and receive better civil rights. For the first time Black people were allowed to serve in the American army 367,000 were accepted. Whilst most of the White men were away at war there was a shortage of workers.

About 500,000 Black americans moved to Northern industrial cities to work between 915 and 1918. Blacks were now 5% of the registered voters. Even though these things show that life was improving for the blacks it was not all good things which were happening: 2,291,000 blacks had volunteered to join the army which only 367,00 were enrolled, this is a very small perscentage, the Black people that did get accepted were only given jobs as cooks, orderlies and truck drivers, this shows that White people were still not accepting the fact that Black people were equals.

The camps were still segregated and officers were White, the marines and the air-force refused to take Blacks. The blacks that were given jobs were sacked when the war had ended which lead to rioting. It was at this stage that the Klu Klux Klan was re-founded, and the lynchings continued no whites were punished. So although there was improvements for the Blacks living standards there was also the things which still held them back in gaining their civil rights.

The 1920’s was a time of boom which was a time of prosperity both economically and socially, because of the industry and the increase in the production line and people were becoming better off and were able to afford luxury items such as cars and washing machines. After mass selling of over 12,894,650 shares on the 24th of october many shares were now under priced. The market had lost 47% of its value in 26 days, even though less that 1% of the population actually owned shares the crash had tremendous impact on the whole population and caused 100,00 companies to close resulting in mass unemployment.

In 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president of America. He came to power promising to help ‘the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid. ‘ He brought in new solutions to make mass unemployment into mass employment, by giving money to business’s to start up the company ho would then employ people. This ‘new deal’ had good and bad outcomes for Black people. In 1935 Rooservelt set up the reselttlement Administration (RA) and in 1937 the Farm Security Administration (FSA) to help sharecroppers by giving them land elsewhere to farm.

However it was opposed by members of Congress from the Southern States and starved of money: in particular they did not like the integrated camps and medical schemes for blacks and whites. The Klu Klux Klan revived after its collapse in 1928. Between 1933 and 1935 lynch mobs murdered 63 blacks. Roosevelts wife wanted to introduce an anti- lynching law into congress. Roosevelt abandoned the idea as he desperately needed the support of southern Democrats in 1935, because other aspects of the new sea were being challenged in congress and the courts.

So Roosevelts actions and his new deal didn’t really help the Black Americans. But even without the help of the president Black musicians and sportsmen were becoming household names; jazz musicians like Lousis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald became famous and Black sportsmen like Joe Lousis, a black boxer, became heavyweight champion of the world and Jesse Owens, a black sprinter, became the first man to win four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When Roosevelt died in 1945, Harry Truman, vice president, became president.

The Second World War gave blacks increased confidence: Black soldiers returned home less ready than before to put up with segregation and racial discrimination. Truman was determined to carry on Roosevelts work to inrease civil rights and decrease discrimination for Black people. Truman recommended laws against lynching, voting discrimination and racial discrimination in jobs. Until 1948, republicans were in the majority in Congress they refused to pass many of the laws proposed by Truman.

Truman eticated himself to improving Civil Rights for Blacks, as part of his ‘fair deal. As most of the Blacks were now living in the Northern states they could now vote freely and had no problems to vote to keep Truman in power. Truman ended segregation in the armed forces, although the armed forces were slow to put his proposals into practice. He also strenghtened the Fair Employment Practices Committee, which gave black people greater rights in the workplace. Truman helped to decrease discrimination towards Blacks and helped them with their civil rights. Blacks rights improved reatly after this, Truman had continued the work which Roosevelt could not in his lifetime.

This was a good step for black people but there were still areas which needed improvement. Evidence of racial abuse back in the 1950’s, was the incident of the Black teenager Emmitt till. Emmitt Till was brutally beaten to his death for speaking to a White women. This is related to the violence being shown towards ethnic minorites in America like the Rodney King and the O J Simpson case. The two White man who were accused of the murder of Emmitt were taken to court and all the evidence was pointing to the fact that they ere guilty, but as the jury and judge were white they were obvioulsy found not guilty.

Along with the court case there were more racial prejudice towards other Black people linked with the case; such as Emmitt’s uncle, who was the last person to see him before his death, as he was a witness he had to go into hiding for the safety of his life. The white officers at the trial would not let a congress man because of the fact he was a ‘nigger,’ when he was eventually let in he was made to sit with the black reporters. This shows that white people were still discriminating Black people even after the civil rights movement.

The case of Emmitt Till shows how little had changed in the south, this racism is still being shown today in the beating of Rodney King, who was beaten by four white policemen, these policemen were let off with such light punishment, and the judge and jury were white. With a few exceptions things were looking up for Black people in the 1950’s. Blacks were not going to stand for this discrimination anymore they wanted equality and their rights. The Blacks were forming together and forming their own organisations. Martin Luther King was the start of this.

King followed in his fathers footsteps and became a Baptist reacher. King used several factors to make himself successful in gaining supporters and getting his word across these included; the role of the church, organisation, determination, national press coverage and the role of black organisations. King lead many civil rights campaigns which attempted to enforce the 14th and the 15th Amendment, some of which were successful, some of which were not. Kings first campaign was the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted from 1955- 1956.

A Black women, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to a white man, (when the white seats had been filled the black passengers were upposed to give up their seats for white passengers. ) Parks was arrested. King urged people to boycott the bus system, this was a blow to the bus companies as the Black people provided 75% of their customers, so the bus company would have had little proffit, so white people actually needed the black people for their income. After a year long boycott the supreme court weakened and anounced that segregated buses like schools were against the constitution.

King had won his first campaign not by physical violence but by peaceful mass protest and determination. King showed prostpect for lack people, he was soon to become supported by blacks all over America in the hope to gain their civil rights. The bus boycott had produced a new leader. King along with other clergy men formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to fight against racial segregation. He decleared that black people were tired of 300 years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation. They wanted absolute and immediate freedom and equality.

King was a great believer in non-violenve and passive resistence protest, based on Gandhi’s ideas, he was inspired by his words, ‘through our pain we will make them see their injustice. King published his ideas in a book called ‘stride toward freedom,’which had great effect on the civil rights movement. King led numerous non-violent campaigns which led to him being arrested 13 times and he also served spells in prison. King influenced many people in his methods of non-violence. Inspired by King another effective method of non-violence protest were Sit-ins.

In 1960 four black students were refused service by a black waitress, in a lunch counter reserved for white students, they staged a sit-in demonstration in the cafeteria. Two days later 85 black and white students taged another sit-in protest, within eighteen months 70,000 had taken part in similar sit-ins against segregation services across the south and 3,000 had been arrested. The mass protests once again drew attention of the country’s media to other injustices endured by black people. The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) with the encouagement from King and the SCLC.

By the end of 1961 over 200 cities had begun to desegregate their public facilities. This shows that by the use of organisation and determination black people were finally getting somewhere to desegregate he country and gain their civil rights. King also inspired the freedom rides of May 1961. The supreme court had ordered, as early as 1946, that interstate travel (that is, journeys by bus or train between states) in America should be desegregated. In 1960 the supreme court also ruled that station waiting rooms and toilets should be desegregated. Many southern states were ignoring this Supreme Court ruling.

James Farmer, director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organised 13 black and white volunteers for a ‘freedom ride’ they would challenge segregation at bus stations. The riders were violently attacked t various stops, but finally the interstate Commerce Commission to desegregate inter-state buses. King had massive influence on Blacks to stand for what was rightfully theirs but were not getting. King led the Voting Registration Campaign in Selma, Alabama 1965. Things had come on since the 1930’s and now most methods used by the southern states to stop Black people voting were now illegal.

However whites still spread intimidation. During a black voter registration campaign, white extremists bombed 30 black homes, burnt 35 black churches, beat up 80 people and murdered 6. When the SCLC and the SNCC marched in and around Selma, Alabama they met violence from police, many of which were with the Klu Klux Klan. This showed that many people were still finding it hard to except the fact that Black people had the right to vote; this is incredible to think as the 15th Amendment which reserved the right for black people to vote was made in 1868 and nearly 100 years on this law was still not being enforced.

In March 1965 President Johnson asked Congress to pass a Voting Rights Act, which made all further restrictions on voting illegal. This now gave Black people power as they could vote for who they wanted into ower, which would in turn give them more power. One of the last campaigns that King led before he was assassinated was the poor people’s campaign. At this time (1966) The SCLC and King now believed that the main problem that Blacks faced was poverty and discrimination. They set up operation Breadbasket which aimed to boycott business’s which did not give Blacks a fair share of jobs or promotion.

In 1968 a poor people’s march was planned. The plan was to unite all poor people not just blacks. It called for an economic bill of rights to provide jobs for the unemployed. He was assassinated before the march reached Washington. King helped Black people on their way to gain equality, he helped enforce that fact that they had the right to vote, and contribute to the segregation of public places. As black people had now succeeded in desegregating public places and had enforced their right to vote, another hurdle that the Black people had to jump was education.

Schools in the south were still segregated; the change to desegregate this was far slower that the public places as it was not an economic issue. There were two different views to this; the whites saw it as a direct change to the southern way of life and Civil rights leaders saw t as the key to removing inequality. There were many cases where black students tried to be enrolled into white schools which were still segregated. The main cases which were successful were; the Brown case 1954, Little Rock Arkansas 1957 and James Meredith 1962.

These cases helped the school system in the south to become segregated. The first major challenge to segregation came in 1954, a year before the Montgomery Bus boycott. The case involved Oliver Brown of Topeka, who sued a city school board for forbidding his 8 year old daughter who was Black form attending a nearby white school. Instead the 8 year old had to walk several miles to go to Black school. This case was taken to the Supreme Court by an organisation called the National Association for the advancement of coloured people (NAACP).

A black lawyer, Thurgood Marshall, presented the case against the school segregation and won. The Supreme Court decided that segregated education deprived children of an equal education. This policy was strongly opposed in the southern states, where most things were still segregated tried to find loopholes to overcome this. President Eisenhower saw this law enforced. Another case was Little Rock. In 1957, nine black pupils had been stopped from joining the all white central high school at Little Rock. The Federal Government ordered the state to let the children enroll.

He refused and was well supported by the local white population. This is purely racism as these students had taken a test and had a high enough score to be accepted, the white people didn’t want these students accepted solely on the colour of their skin not on how educated they were. Eisenhower sent in military force to ensure that the students were accepted; 100,000 National guardsmen nd 1,000 paratroopers were sent to make sure that the black students were enrolled. By 1961 there were no Black students in white schools; in the states of: Alabama, Mississippi or Carolina.

Progress after Little Rock was extremely slow. Though there were some 2 million black school children in the south 1960, mere 2,600 if these went to integrated schools with whites. This showed although the governments were declaring that schools were to be integrated not segregated, whites were still opposed to this and were stopping Black students from enrolling by becoming mobs staging hemselves around the school and using violence to stop the students from entering the school. The last main case of Blacks Vs education was the one of James Meredith 1962.

Meredith won his case to admit him for a course in Mississippi University. There was rioting on campus with the remarks made by Ross Bennett, governor of Mississippi, inflaming the white anger, the riot caused two deaths and many injuries. Meredith completed his course and became the first black to graduate from Mississippi University. The whites attitudes towards the blacks were very slow to change, they held heir white superior theory, disscriminated the blacks as they always had since the 18th century.

By 1964 only 2% of the black children in the south were attending segregated schools. White parents often boycotted the shools which allowed blacks, or sent their children to private schools. But the 1964 Civil rights act gave the government the power to force states to desegregate schools. It took four years to get the desegregation of schools into effect going from 61% to 11% of black children going to segregated schools. Martain Luther King and the Civil Rights Act were successful to change aws in the South.

They managed to desegregate public places and the education system. The voters Registration Act helped many blacks register to vote as they were too scared of the Klu Klux Klan before to do so. Althouh King and the Civil Rights Act helped the laws to be changed, attitudes towards black people did not change. White people were still being racist towards them and the Blacks were still being discriminated. The situation was different in the north that in the south. Blacks had even better Civil Rights in the North, there was less racism, discrimination and prejudice towards them.

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