Racism and Slavery
How it works
During the colonial period, Americans came up with the idea to bring African men and women overseas and use them as slaves. The effects of slavery on African Americans were enormous, and the white men got higher ranked in the hierarchy than the back men because of the colour of their skin. In order to discuss the impact that slavery has had on today’s society, you need to first address why it actually occurred. During the 17th and 18th century, African American slaves were mainly working on tobacco plantations on the seaboard of the southern colonies in Virginia, Georgia, Maryland etc.
Eventually, the cotton plantation in the south became the root of slavery.
It is impossible to give an exact measure of how many black slaves were shipped to the new world. Some historians have estimated that roughly 6-7 million black slaves were imported overseas during the 18th century alone. One of the most common argument in the colonial era to support slavery is that it led to immense economic development and that it was something that was inevitable. The hidden reason for slavery was superiority, where the white race saw vulnerable, black people and decided to mistreat them. Therefore, one can assume that racism was, and still is, a crucial aspect of slavery.
Racism, which is a subconscious reason for slavery, is still alive today, where slavery during the 18th century, became the roots of racism in today’s society. A clear line was drawn between the black and the white during the time of slavery, which made the generation of that time growing up with the perception that that is how the races should be divided. The ideology of the white superiority gave one race a more powerful position over the other, where in this case the white race has a more powerful position over the black race, which is still shown today. This explains why black people fought for their freedom. Even though people may want to believe that racism ended altogether with slavery when it was eliminated while black people had to fight for their freedom, that is not actually right. The reality is that racism still is widespread, where it is showcased through a lack of equality, segregation, racial profiling etc. During the civil rights movement, African Americans had political struggles, where they fought against racial discrimination and challenged the system of segregation, but also to gain full citizenship rights. Leaders such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther, King Jr lead non-violent protests against the discrimination of African Americans. Their messages of change through peace gave the movement moral strength, which then eventually lead to changes in the law.
A type of racial profiling is police brutality against African Americans, where according to the available data of FBI, black people are far more likely to be shot by the police, and the United States police shoot black people at disproportional measures. Socioeconomic factors such as unemployment, poverty, segregation etc, are what drove to more crime and violence in the black community. The results of the factors were that the police tend to be more active and present in those areas, and therefore, the police may take some extra action.
As to racial profiling, one very clear example of targeting a person because of their race is the case of Tyre King, who was a 13-year-old boy who was killed by an armed police officer when he tried to reach out for his BB gun. The police then assumed that he was armed and dangerous because of his skin colour. This and many other killings of black people sparked the ‘black lives matter’ campaign. Situations as such shows that racism is still obvious in society today, and black people still are seen in stereotypes.
Slavery had a direct impact on classism system, which is clearly visible today, where African Americans got treated ill and were displayed in a society that was split into classes. One of the lasting effects that slavery has had on slavery is that it reduced the chance they had on being successful. This then meant that they needed to work twice as hard in order to be at the same level as the white people. The struggle of finding opportunities is still existing today, where for instance, education, where segregation still roams. Segregation is most often experienced in poorer schools, which in most cases are overlooked by African American students, where there also are lack of resources that then leads to ineffective learning. It is clearly shown that the classism is still alive today whereas white students in schools get expanded opportunities, and these opportunities were not granted to the black students, because of the history and their circumstances.
The subject is a difficult topic of conversation because no one likes talking about slavery in general. It provokes feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment for the whites because their ancestors were contributing to the history of American slavery. The topic also provokes sad feelings since close relatives and family members could be victims. Slavery with time became shrouded in shame, disgrace and secrecy and the associated feelings and emotions got pushed away.
Equality would have prevailed if America had built on better policies from the start. Still today, the effects of slavery are still being felt through actions, such as classism and racism in our society. As the world we know becomes more affluent, we need to take into consideration that effects slavery during the 17th and 18th century still affects our society, that modern-day slavery still is a concern, and that concern has its support on the roots that society formed decades ago.