A not so Affluent Society

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The 1950’s era was a time of alleged consensus and unity in American society. This presumed unanimity meaning that the American people were in agreement on all things in their society. Seeing as how America is the most multicultural and ethnically diverse country on the planet, which is why it is known as a “melting pot”, it is almost incomprehensible for there to of been an era of time where everyone was on the same page on all things in society: politics, economics, distinct cultural beliefs. During the 1950’s there was an abundance of different systems of ideas and ideals, especially those which form the basis of economic and political philosophies. Practically the only belief that the American people did share was their fear of Russia and the spread of communism.

Likely the greatest divide among citizens of the United States during the 1950’s was race. The idea that opportunity and affluence was open to everyone due to the strength of democracy and american capitalism was debilitated by the racial inequality and bias of the time. You cannot have consensus when there is a barrier isolating and disenfranchising part of the population. There are two primary court cases from the decade that demonstrate the absence of consensus regarding racial equality among the American people. One of these being that of Mexican-American, Pete Hernandez. Pete Hernandez was a migrant worker accused of murdering his employer Joe Espinosa in Jackson County, Texas. The law says that someone is entitled to be tried by a jury “of his peers”. However, there was not a single mexican-american person on the jury. “The State of Texas stipulated that “for the last twenty-five years there is no record of any person with a Mexican or Latin American name having served on a jury commission, grand jury or petit jury in Jackson County”. This quote exemplifies the systematic oppression of a race of people from doing their duty as a citizen of the United States, exhibiting a belief of white superiority and the divide between the American people of the time. Another civil rights case that is essential in displaying the contrast among American ideals of the 1950’s is Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. Brown vs. Board of Education has to do with what was known as “separate but equal”. Meaning that racial segregation was acceptable and legal as long the black people had the same accomodations and resources as the white people did. However, more often than not this was not the case and the black people ended up with less resources and opportunities than the white people did.

The separation of the races was usually understood to stand for the idea that black people were less intelligent than the white people. It is made evident in this excerpt from Brown vs Board of Education Topeka: “Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system.” The simple fact that this case was ever brought before the supreme court confirms that there was not a consensus on the basis of doctrine of civil rights.

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A Not So Affluent Society. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/a-not-so-affluent-society/

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