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Ethnic Groups and Discrimination, Essay Example

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Essay

The African/Americans were brought to the American colonies as slaves and as such abducted from their native homeland of Africa. They were neither immigrants nor colonialists, but rather a subjugated people brought against their will to serve bondage as plantation workers, servants and other menial tasks that the white European colonists thought beneath them.  It was in the year of 1619 the first shipment of black slaves were brought to the Americas in order to serve the white colonists.  Most of these being located in Jamestown, Virginia, and to be used as a source of cheap labour.

Slaves did not readily accept the position of enslavement.  In revolts, during the period 1720 to 1793, the white landowners put down such resistance with considerable force and hanged many slaves in order to set an example to others.  Four petitions against slavery were made during 1773 to 1777.  Slavery was an extremely cruel institution imposed by the white colonists on the imported Negro population from Africa.  In 1790, it supported 1000 tons of cotton and in 1860 the South had increased this to 1 million tons.  In the same era, slaves had increased from 400,000 to over 4 million.  (Arnove)

It was in 1607 that England placed hundred and five colonists in Virginia and the settlement was called Jamestown.  After 15 years, the settlement had only 1200 residents.  It was the discovery of tobacco that created a boom time that  remained through the 1620s.  By the end of the 17th century,   Virginia was listed as England’s most profitable overseas colony.  It created a huge return in tobacco revenue.  The success was largely due to the huge slave trade  that was built up in order to harvest this tobacco.  The Chesapeake Bay was a huge dock that contained slave ships and  cargo ships bound for Europe.  Virginia settlers were only concerned with wealth creation, and getting rich quickly.  They cared little about the morality of slavery or the welfare of others.  This was contrasted to the settlers of New England who had more pious and  religious beliefs; this was more of a family community. Virginia was more a community of single get-rich-quick merchants.  New England built churches, schools, self-government, and thrived; whereas, the junior struggled to survive in a single dimensioned economy.

New England was considered a haven of puritans and a great example of righteousness.  Virginia was the hellhole of sin, disease, slavery and exploitation.  By the middle of the 17th century, slavery and racism had grown deep roots in the South. The scene was set for the American Civil War. The origins of the Civil War were about the dispute of slavery. Southern states were angered by the North’s attempted antislavery policies.  The South was mainly run by a plantation system dominated by the use of slavery.  The North was growing large urban populations with no slavery.  There was a higher birthrate in the north, with larger number of European immigrants joining the community.  It was in 1860, with the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln that caused the succession of the Southern states to form that of the Confederate states of America.

Different forms of discrimination

During this period, the African / Americans  suffered the following different types of racial discrimination.

Dual labour market: There was a market and class system primarily based upon wealth and family influence.  The Blacks were seen as and treated as second-class citizens. They were denied an education and as such, there was a market for the whites and a segregated system for the blacks around slavery and menial work

Environmental justice issues –  The slaves were denied civil rights, citizenship or decent environmental working conditions.

Affirmative action – This came later in the day with the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to  US constitution enabling Black Americans to gain citizenship in the United States. (Sykes, 1995)

Redlining – This practice is now against the law. In earlier times certain areas of minority groups were redlined and refused credit or not allowed to borrow money because of race, low income and discrimination

Double Jeopardy –  Essentially mean you cannot be tried for the same crime twice. The early colonialists practiced this rule of law.  There is no indication that African/Americans were treated any differently here.  Slaves, however, were not considered to have any rights, hence it is possible for misdemeanours to have taken place here.

Institutional Discrimination –  This was widely practiced against the  African Americans and it was not until the Civil Rights movements that these issues started to be addressed.

Reverse Discrimination –  The African Americans developed and brought their own culture to the Americas and whilst the early white settlers refused to recognize this, nevertheless the black people developed their own sense of identity distinct from the white Europeans

Glass Ceilings –  Essentially African / Americans were denied education, opportunity and scope for advancement because they were not considered to be intelligent enough. This level of ignorance has gradually been eroded.

Conclusion

I generally tend to identify with both sides of the American Racial culture. We are much more globalized and integrated in our outlook today.  Although racial tensions exist, there is a lot more tolerance and appreciation of different viewpoints now. (Jackman, M.R. 1978)

Works Cited

Arnove, H. Z. (2004). Voices of a Peoples History. In H. Z. Arnove, Voices of a Peoples History (p. 196). New York: Seven Stories Press.

Jackman, M. R. (1978). General and Applied Tolerance: Does Education Increase Commitment to Racial Integration? American Journal of Political ScienceVol. 22, No. 2, pp. 302-324 .

Sykes, M. (1995, 8). The Origins of Affirmative Action. Retrieved 8 26, 2011, from National Organization for Women: http://www.now.org/nnt/08-95/affirmhs.html

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