Racial discrimination has been a big issue since the early stages of the 18th century. With a big boom with the westward expansion in the 18th century, the United States got ahold of slavery. Slavery was cruel and a harsh way of life for a vast majority of the African Americans living in America.
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In the 1830s people finally begun to realize the issue of racial discrimination and started what is known as the Abolitionist Movement. The Abolitionist movement fought to end slavery and give the people of color a right to life. How has the Abolitionist Movement changed the way people look at African Americans in today’s society? The Abolitionist Movement raised awareness heard around the world. To this day the fight against racism is still growing every day, but we still see racial discrimination every day. Ted Nakashima does a great job portraying the hardships these people go through in his writings. In his writing Concentration Camp, we hear what life was actually like being a Japanese- American in these Internment Camps. Many Americans believe that we are making a lot more progress against racial discrimination than we actually are, as Nakashima outlines in his writings. As we continue the twenty-first century, we notice that racial discrimination is really not getting all that better, we television to spread the news faster and social media to explode the news racial discrimination is being looked at a lot closer than it has in the past.
W.E.B Du Bois was a supporter of the Abolitionist Movement. He was also a well-educated writer. In his writing, Of The Training Of Black Men he talks about how African American men were forced to fight for America, “”So here we stand among thoughts of human Unity, even though conquest and slavery; the inferiority of black men, even if forced by fraud; a shriek in the night for the freedom of men who themselves are not yet sure of their right to demand it, this is the tangle of thought and afterthought wherein we are called to solve the problem of training men for life.””(Du Bois pp161). These men were deprived of their right to freedom. The government forced them to fight for their country no matter the circumstances for their lives. In the 1800s black men and women were looked at as objects and not people. Du Bois fought for black freedom and their well being. A big advancement in Racial discrimination was the Slaves’ Petition for Freedom to the Massachusetts Legislature, in 1777, it talks about how slaves are treated. The Petition brought a lot of eyes and ears to the issue which got a lot of white families on board to fight racial discrimination. Although the slaves knew that their pain and discomforting lives would not change right away, their goal was to get people aware of how they were forced to live in hopes to get people to resolve the crisis over time. In Langston Hughes writing he talks about a black poet who wishes to be a “”white poet”” because there is never a great black poet as he is describing why this man wants to be a white poet he says, “”The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”” “”But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America–this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.””(Langston Hughes). Hughes is saying that there is a big obstacle standing in the way of blacks who wish to succeed in art, job, or career. This “”obstacle”” is racism. He is saying that if you are a white writer, you get tons of respect and recognition, whereas if you are a black writer or poet your words in your writings do not mean anything because you as a black person is not looked up to as a role model or a leader.
We do not see racial discrimination against just African Americans. In 1941 just after Pearl Harbor, there was a lot of racial discrimination against the Japanese, and the government did not help, they made the discrimination grow vastly. The government ordered Japanese- American families and individuals relocate themselves into Internment Camps where they were forced to live based on their ethnicity and what color skin they had. In Ted Nakashima’s writing, Concentration Camp he talks about what type of families were in these camps. These families had good career paths with diplomas from very well known colleges and sturdy high paying jobs. He then talks about the conditions in which they are forced to live in, “”The resettlement center is actually a Penitentiary- armed guards in towers with spotlights and deadly Tommy guns, fifteen feet of barbed- wire fences, everyone confined to quarters at nine, lights out at ten o’clock. The guards are ordered to shoot anyone who approaches within twenty feet of the fence.””(Ted Nakashima). In these camps were a bunch of innocent people who have been ripped away from their normal, everyday comfortable lives and placed in these harsh, controlling camps because the government wanted to essentially protect the “”white”” Americans from these Japanese- Americans.
The United States has come a long way since the time of slavery. When racial discrimination first began the African- American people were not treated as people, but as a commodity. With blacks being forced into slavery it started a movement to stop it, and that movement did that. Now with slavery over we still had large issues with the whites accepting the blacks. Blacks couldn’t hold the right to vote, it was challenging for them to find long-term jobs that paid well, they were given zero respect, and when a black person tried to stand up for what they believed in he or she was ridiculed and often physically injured. In Langston Hughes poem, Let America Be America Again he says,
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from the land,I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek”. And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one’s own greed!(Langston Hughes)
In this poem, Hughes talks how despite the hatred against his kind, despite the history, and despite the discrimination, he still has the fight in him to start his life and family, he wants to hold and job and work hard for someone who pays him for his work. He wants to be part of the free in “”the land of the free.””
Langston Hughes does a great job portraying how hard it was/is to be a man of color. As quoted earlier on how had it was to make a known name for yourself as a black poet and writer back in the days he rose above all of the criticism and discrimination and is now one of the most well-known writers in the world. Hughes fought for what he believed in whether it nerved the white men and woman of his time or not, he believed in what he was saying and brought awareness to the racial discrimination against African Americans.
Today we still have a big fight against racial discrimination in the United States. We as a nation have made outstanding improvements to the racism found in America in the past. We do still struggle with segregation in the united states and racial profiling. In Ta-Nehisi Coates’, Letter To My Son, he talks about being interviewed for his past, The host was broadcasting from Washington, D.C., and I was seated in a remote studio on the Far West Side of Manhattan. A satellite closed the miles between us, but no machinery could close the gap between her world and the world for which I had been summoned to speak.(Ta-Nehisi Coates). In essence, Ta-Nehisi is saying that there is still segregation in the world, this white person is not going to travel to Coates part of town, and the gap in how he has been treated in the past will never compare to have white folks were treated in the past. In America, we have parts of cities known as the “”ghetto”” or the “”hood”” because of the people who live there. What the prize of being an American is, is freedom. As Cotes said, “”The greatest reward of this constant interrogation, of confrontation with the brutality of my country, is that it has freed me from ghosts and myths. (Ta-Nehisi Coates). Blacks in America now have freedom, though it may not be equal to other races in America they have much better lives than they did many years ago. As we battle to get rid of racial discrimination in the United States we will grow as a nation.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Letter to My Son. The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 4 July 2015, www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/tanehisi-coates-between-the-world-and-me/397619/.
Hughes, Langston. The Life and Work of Langston Hughes. Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, 1 Feb. 2018, www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again.
William C. Nell, The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, PETITIONS OF MASSACHUSETTS SLAVES FOR FREEDOM (New York: Arno Press and The New York Times, 1968), 40“41, 47“48, 87“88.
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