“This act flows from a simple wrong” – President Johnson
Racial discrimination, or “Racism” has tainted American society, and influenced all aspects of life in the United States throughout history. Racism is a vicious cycle. The term itself can be used in many ways, but often reflects unreflective hostility toward members of an ethic group or people toward another (Fredrickson 2). These attitudes may be expressed as snobbery, and result in brutality that go beyond traditional prejudice. Hitler created many racist theories to justify the actions taken against Jews, as white supremacists in the American South created was to justify Jim Crow laws to explain why whites and blacks should be separated, and African Americans held unequal to whites (Frederickson 3). Racism existed into the 20th century, and continues despite passage of anti-segregation laws and voting rights toward African Americans. It is difficult to un-write laws that have been imbedded within a populations subconscious.
Even though interracial interactions had manifested in one form or another in recent history, racism and racial tensions still prevail in most aspects of American society. Psychological roots and beliefs of Racism lead to socio-economical, legal and political prejudice attitudes, practices and actions.
The mass media is largely responsible for the perception of race in today’s society. The media imposes hidden messages which accumulate in one’s perception, character and mindset (Balkaran 1). Stereotypical public perception against African Americans in the United States Exist, which enforce negative stereotypes (Balkaran 1). These have become widespread throughout the American mindset, crucially affecting the African American community.
Human nature also plays a crucial part in the existence of racism between Americans and African-Americans, leading to an underlying cause of racial prejudice. An individual becomes more receptive of others via familiarities. The more one becomes accustomed to people that they are similar to, the more one is willing to accept that person or group of people.
Racism became widely spread among societies as a result of superficial judgments and discrimination based on color and race, something underlined by an individual’s upbringing and beliefs.
Racism is the result of discrimination and power creating social stratification between races. Citizens still feel segregated and do not accept the integration of different races in residential areas, social and country clubs. This creates identity segregation that limits personal growth and affects the unity of different people. The dominance of white Americans over African-Americans leads to major economic gaps in the United States, where African Americans make up a large majority of the underprivileged population.
African Americans often experience lower income due to their lack of higher education (Woodruff 1). As a class they also face higher unemployment rates than white people.
Political Legal Attributes
Overcoming the basic perception of equality, there still exists a gap within the justice system. Equality laws and fairness is questionable, even today, both among African Americans and White Americans. Each group is perceived and treated with prejudice.
The Criminal Justice system is racially prejudice in arresting, prosecuting and sentencing African Americans vis-a-vie White Americans. Racism still exist within the political system of the United States. Even though the system “plays the race card,” racial prejudices plague the United States political system. While the President of the United States is African American, he can’t propose policies tailored to African Americans. The majority of congressman in the House of Representatives are white Americans. African Americans have limited power and say in the way of government matters.
An ideal example of the unconscious stereotypes that exist of black men is the story provided by Brent Staples (ND). Brent became a journalist, writing a story originally appearing in Ms. Magazine, entitled “Just Walk on By.” The story describes Staple’s experiences walking in the streets of Chicago (primarily) and mostly in the evenings. Staples describes what he felt like while walking often in neighborhoods of more well-off individuals, and sometimes walking down the streets of ordinary individuals as the sun faded, noticing that people felt less secure in his presence. Staple’s describes his feelings and observations, highlighting the fact that white woman in particular seemed apprehensive or afraid of him, and kept a certain distance from him that was much further than the average person would if he might be a white individual. Even when Staples initially walked a short distance, he remarked on how women would increase the separation between himself and them, while the same would not be said of women encountering white men on the streets in the evening. Staples also recounts the impression of white women’s and other’s faces, describing a look of fright or worry (Staples, ND). Staples notes that although he wanted nothing to do with white women, or to harm anyone that he encountered, he felt saddened by the notion that women, or anyone else, might feel frightened by his skin color. He also felt some sense of shame that his skin color may be off-putting to the individuals that he encountered during his journey. This article puts a new light on racism, from the perspective of an individual that experienced racism first hand. This rare experience provides the reader with an opportunity to experience racism from behind the eyes of a young black man, experiencing the trauma of racism from an individual perspective.
The movie Selma describes the life of the Martin Luther King and his journey during his fight against racism. This fight included the fight to earn African American’s equal voting rights. The movie describes many of the aspects of Martin Luther’s life, including the tell—tale march King inspired that led a journey from the city of Selma to the city of Montgomery, Alabama. The goal of this march served to protest discrimination against African Americans and other minority peoples. The movie helps to describe the events happening in Washington that led up to the Voting rights Act of 1965. This Act, formally signed by President Johnson, is considered in history among the more significant victories of the civil rights movement, as it led to a tangible win… the right to vote. Thus, African Americans and others had just cause to celebrate. The movie Selma helps describe the story of how Martin Luther King, Jr., along with his immediate family, helped to create a significant change in politics, one that truly changed the history for African American citizens living in the United States during his time and moving forward. The movie can be considered in many ways. Some justifiably may consider it a documentary, as it describes the story of a leading influencer, Martin Luther King Junior, and the actions he engaged in leading to the signing of the Voting Rights Act. Of significance is how late in the history of the United States this Act was signed. It is nearly impossible to imagine that such rights came as late as the mid-1960s. However, even this movie created a political controversy. There are many who feel that the movie did not receive as much acknowledgement that it might have received if it were based on a more general topic, or a topic that engaged white people rather than the African American population at large. According to Azikiwe (2), during the Golden Globes, it was pointed out that the judges nominating movies and actors for awards were all white. According to those opposing the lack of representation in the global awards category, this led to the movie Selma being “snubbed out” of more significant award categories than it would have been awarded if it were not a movie about race, political rights and equality (Azikiwe 2). This protest came from many, who felt the Oscars were awards by a club composed of men that were “too white and too male” (Azikiwe 2). Many protested that the movie did not make it into the best picture.
History has demonstrated that racism exists, and will continue to exist despite efforts to help create greater equality within American. Unemployment rates among oppressed African American and other minority groups are far greater than unemployment rates among whites, and the gap between poor and rich continues to widen (Azikiwe 2). This has occurred despite promises to create greater equality and reduce oppression of the poorer classes among politicians. The resolution to the matter may include mass demonstrations to help draw greater attention to racism in America.
- Azikiwe, Abayomi. “Significance of major chapter in Civil Rights history minimized
by Golden Globe and Academy.” Global Research. 2015. Web.
- Balkaran, Stephen. “Mass media and racism.” Yale University Press, 21(1). October
- Fredrickson, George. Racism: A short history. Princeton University Press. 2015.
- Geier, Kathleen. “Inequality in Black and White: The rigged economics of race in
American, in five studies.” Pacific Standard, March 2015. Web.
- Staples, Brent. Just Walk on By: Black men and public space. ND. Web.
Selma. IMDb. 2015. Web.
- Woodruff, M. “The income gap between blacks and whites has only gotten worse
since the 1960s.” Business Insider. 2013. Web.