1.A discussion of slavery requires a greater understanding of the different elements which contributed to this significant era of American history. The United States Constitution permitted slavery without actually stating it in the document itself; however, this led to further consequences related to slavery and its impact on Blacks (HarpWeek, 2004). Slavery was a common practice in 13 states in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was drafted (HarpWeek, 2004). Although Congress soon enacted legislation to forbid slaves from being imported into the United States, slavery remained common within domestic territories (HarpWeek, 2004). Many abolitionists began their work to eliminate slavery in the United States during the mid-1800s, but it would be a long time before slavery was truly abolished from a legal perspective (HarpWeek, 2004).
2.In the United States, traditions and beliefs were instrumental in shaping how the country evolved and grew throughout its history. In spite of slavery, many Blacks were able to express themselves through various forms of artistic expression and education, and sought to discover means of exploring their spirituality (pbs.org, 2004). Furthermore, these traditions were kept alive by exploring musical boundaries and literary works (pbs.org, 2004). These efforts supported the ability of slaves to become more expressive, in spite of the traditions of slavery and the type of expectations that were placed upon this group (pbs.org, 2004). These practices have been particularly influential because they represent a series of important challenges in exploring the traditions of slavery and how this practice shaped the Black American community over time (pbs.org, 2004). In addition, since traditions are often very difficult to break and are viewed as a negative option, many generations of Blacks were ensconced into slavery even if it was no longer the ethically appropriate choice to make. This placed an even greater strain upon White-Black relations throughout American history, and continues to be a challenge even today in some circles.
3.The continued evolution of racial prejudice and discrimination against many Black Americans has been an ongoing process, and has been fueled by many stereotypes and other elements of racial identity in different ways (Sellers and Shelton, 2003). From this perspective, racial discrimination prevails in the 21st Century, and continues to impact African Americans and their overall sense of wellbeing (Sellers and Shelton, 2003). Under these conditions, racist remarks, direct actions towards African Americans, and other factors contribute to discriminatory behaviors in the United States (Sellers and Shelton, 2003). One of the key characteristics of these behaviors is the concept of identifying separate groups, which further fuels the beliefs regarding a group of people and their actions (Sellers and Shelton, 2003). As a result, many African Americans, as products of a group, may be specifically targeted on the sole basis that they look and maybe act different than those in other groups, thereby leading to continued discrimination and other actions that are difficult to overcome, even in modern society (Sellers and Shelton, 2003).
4.Prejudice and discrimination has become a vicious cycle in today’s society because there is essentially no means to an end. This type of behavior continues to prevail in many areas throughout the United States and amongst many different groups, and remains a very distinct focus, particularly in some geographic regions. Prejudice and discrimination is perpetuated by beliefs and behaviors, yet few long-term solutions or perspectives have been identified that could contribute to eliminating these behaviors. It is very difficult to maintain a successful approach to these conditions, which leads to further degradation across racial lines and enhances prejudice and discrimination in different ways. From this perspective, it is often difficult for people to refrain from making racist remarks or judgments about others, and this leads to an even greater level of decline in regards to race relations.
5.Improving contemporary African-American relations in the United States requires a delicate balance between understanding the different dynamics of each race and what steps are necessary to expand these relationships in a positive manner. Recent polls have demonstrated that many African Americans have observed an improvement in racial relations; however, it is important to continue to expand these improvements to promote inclusion and equality for all persons (CBS News, 2010). Although discrimination will never disappear, it is important for all races to recognize that they all possess similar circumstances, and that no race is more superior. These misconceptions have largely contributed to the difficult challenges that African Americans have faced for years, and the perception by many that this group is the lesser race. Therefore, additional measures must be considered that will continue to expand opportunities for this group, including their inclusion into all areas where Whites and other racial and ethnic groups currently prevail. These alternatives will play a positive role in shaping the opportunities that are available to African Americans in an ever-changing and opportunistic society.
CBS News (2010). Poll: Blacks see improved race relations. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500160_162-4972532.html
HarpWeek (2004). Toward racial equality: Harper’s Weekly reports on Black America, 1857-1874. Retrieved from http://blackhistory.harpweek.com/8Timelines/TimelinesLevelOne.htm
PBS.org (2004). Education, arts, & culture. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/education/history2.html
Sellers, R.M., and Shelton, J.N. (2003). The role of racial identity in perceived racial discrimination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(5): 1079-1092.