10 Reasons Race Relations in the U.S.A. are Better Than Any Point in History
Racism is the thought that one person’s skin color, their race, or even their group, be it ethnic identity, national identity, or religious identity, is superior to others in the human species. Racism has been present in the American landscape since the early European colonization of North America that started in the 17th century.
Different groups have borne the brunt of this racism, which was manifested in social practices, discriminatory laws, and even criminal behavior that was targeted to an entire group. However, today, the state of racism is better than it has been at any other point in history.
While this is somewhat difficult to believe, with movements such as “Black Lives Matter,” and other racially charged slogans and groups, it is a fact. Proving this point only takes you looking back in history at reasons why racism is not as bad as it once was, as well as times when racism was worse. When you understand these times and the reasons behind them, you can clearly see why the racial tension present today, is not nearly as bad as it was in the past.
Also, understanding race issues of the past can also help reduce the chance they are repeated in the future. Here you can review and better understand race relations in the past, where they are now, and why they have improved. Being informed ensures that history does not repeat itself and that race issues do not reach the point they did in the past.
10Racism Against the Native American People
Upon arrival of the Europeans in North America, a plan was put into effect. They had a systematic plan to not only subdue, but also conquer the land. With this need to take over and rule everything in sight came bigotry and racism against the Native Americans. The Europeans believed that the original inhabitants of North America were savages and heathens who needed to receive an education that taught them how to live a civilized life. This is when the settlers began to force European culture and Christianity on the Native Americans.
This need to conquer and control lead to the mass murder and genocide of the Native American people. The Europeans also stole the Native American’s land and attempted to wipe out all the Native American traditions, and forced assimilation through various institutions such as residential schools where the Indian children were forced to live and the establishment of the long-lived Indian Reservations.
Also, the media portrayed the first inhabitants of the North American continent as bloodthirsty savages, which helped to provide justification for the European abuses of these people. As a result, the long-term effects, along with others, of this treatment include the fact that Native American people have the highest rate of suicide among any group that is present in the United States today. This is a fact based on information from the National Institute of Mental Health. As a result, the racist attitude toward Native Americans is still seen today, which is why many are unable to surpass this high rate of suicide.
9Racism Against the African American People
Many people from Africa began to land on American soil as early as the 17th century. These individuals arrived as slaves, who were kidnapped from their homeland or villages in different parts of Africa. Many of the people brought to America were literate and considered royalty.
All the African people, including children, women, and men, brought to the “New World” were stripped of their identities and even their names and forced to “Christianize.” They were often tortured, beaten, whipped, and even hung or lynched when their masters saw fit. Slavery was the key to rich, white men to maintain their land and properties.
Many African families were separated during the selling and buying of slaves. Even though not all the Africans present in America were slaves, the vast majority were, especially in the southern portion of the country. For the Africans in America who remained free, many discriminatory laws kept them from having the opportunity to cast a vote or to own property. There was also an intrinsic view that those with dark colored skin were inferior to the white, dominant majority. This is what kept them from achieving full equality in the United States until sometime in the 1960s. While there are still racial tensions regarding African Americans today, they are not as bad as what they were in the past. This is thanks to the evolution of the human race on the road to reaching equality for all.
8Racism Against Japanese-Americans
After the leaders of Japan made the decision to bomb Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941, the racist attitude toward Japanese-Americans took a turn for the worst. Much like the attitudes toward the Muslims in America after the attacks on 9/11, the Japanese-Americans became the target for government surveillance, discrimination, and harassment.
The members of the Japanese-American community lost their homes, their businesses, and their jobs due to this attitude. However, the blow that was the absolute worst occurred in February of 1942 when an Executive Order was signed and put into effect by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that provided the authorization for the internment of all Japanese-Americans who were in the United States. In fact, with this in place, they were considered enemies of the state.
Due to this action by the then President of the United States, more than half of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans that were sent to the camps were ones who had been born and raised in the United States and had never even visited Japan. Half of the individuals who were sent to the camps were children.
This Executive Order provided the Japanese-Americans allowed for the forced exclusion from particular areas to offer a security against espionage and property and sabotage. Some of the individuals who were imprisoned wound up dying in the camps because they did not receive the medical care they needed. The others died due to not obeying the orders they were given.
7Racism Against Jewish-Americans
Even though the Jews first came to America more than 300 years ago, and at this time they enjoyed a certain level of religious freedom, anti-Semitism was an acceptable and quite common social occurrence. It was also considered legal, in many cases. One example of this was in the 18th century when some states barred anyone who was not a Cristian from holding public office or from even voting in elections. However, these are all barriers that were removed down the road, especially when the Bill of Rights was put into effect.
Another time when Jewish-Americans were discriminated against in the United States was during the Holocaust that was happening in Europe during the 1940s. At this time, a ship holding more than 900 German Jewish refugees did not gain permission to land on the soil of the United States because of the Immigration Act of 1924. Of all the passengers, only about a third of them, who were forced to make the trek back to Europe, survived the genocide of Jewish people that was happening on the continent.
Another time when Jewish Americans were a target of racism in the U.S. was during the power of the Ku Klux Klan. Considered one of the most violent and virulent hate groups in the entire area, they did not just direct rage and hate toward the African-Americans, but also Jewish people were a target of this hatred.
Discrimination against Jewish people has also been seen in the workforce, and they were never permitted to enter certain social clubs or resort areas.
This is a term that has begun circulating to describe the current state of hostility toward Muslims and Islam inside of the United States. It is manifested in discrimination, harassment, and prejudice. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life, the positive opinions of the state of Islam among those in the U.S. have steadily declined since 2005. After the 9/11 terror attacks, as well as the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq in the U.S. Islamophobia only became worse.
In the previous decade, the Muslims in American have been subjected to more than 700,000 interviews by the FBI. Other types of discrimination they have been subjected to include racial profiling, phone surveillance, and wiretapping. In addition to this, is the misinformation and the rhetoric of hate that was created and fueled by the so-called experts on terrorism in the U.S., as well as radio and television talk show personalities and hosts, right-wing authors, and countless websites and blogs that demonize Muslims and Islam, linking them all to acts of terrorism.
Today, Islamophobia is considered the only type of racism that is acceptable in America. While there is no reason for this phobia toward all people who are a member of this culture, right now it is present. Unfortunately, it is still prevalent in America; however, more and more people are starting to understand that it is not something they need to support.
5The White Man’s Burden
While this goes along with racism against African-Americans, it is also unique. In February of 1899, Rudyard Kipling, a British poet and novelist wrote a poem he called “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands.” Within this poem, Kipling encouraged the United States to accept the “burden” of the empire that had been created, as Britain, and some other European nations had done.
This poem was published in McClure’s Magazine in February of 1899. The poem coincided with the start of the Philippine-American War and when the United States Senate ratified the treaty that placed the Philippines, Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico under the control of America.
Theodore Roosevelt, who was about to become the vice-president copied this poem and sent it to a friend, who was Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. He made the comment that while it was not great poetry, it provided a good sense of the expansion point of view.
In the poem, the author clearly outlines the fact that white colonizers believed they had the right to impose their civilization and beliefs on the black members of the colonies. It also made the point that it was the responsibility of the whites to “save” or to accept the blacks freely into the newly formed America. The whites did this in an attempt to sooth the guilt they had for violently enslaving the black population. This was a misinformed attempt that is not looked on fondly today.
4The Reign of the Ku Klux Klan
While there are still those who believe in white power in the United States today, they don’t hold near as much power or influence as they did in the past. Beginning in the 1860s, the KKK, as the Klan was commonly referred to, were a group of white people, who rode horses and wore white masks. Those who joined this organization did not like the fact that many blacks were being set free and given various rights.
Because of their strong belief that the white race was the superior one, they scared and murdered thousands of blacks. Many died, while others ran away or went into hiding during this time. They held the misdirected belief they were “saving America.” From the period of 1865 until 1944, and even in some cases today, the KKK still provides acts of hate toward the black population.
According to those who are members of the Klan, the black people in America are on the bottom rung of the still important social ladder, with poor white people and middle-class people in the middle, and rich white people at the very top. The Klan still believes that black people do not need to have the same rights and privileges as white people; however, it is not as prevalent an issue as it was in the past.
While the KKK is still in existence, it is not as big of a matter as it was when the abolishment of slavery first occurred and when black people began to receive rights.
3Past Issues of Racism in Medicine
Today, there is no question that good health is an important asset that all people have the right to. However, in the past, issues of racism in the health care industry made it difficult for those of color to take charge and maintain a healthy life.
Not only have many minority groups been deprived of the quality health care they needed in the past, but they have also had their basic human rights violated under the guise of medical research. For example, the issue of racism in the medical field during the 20th century resulted in professionals in the health care industry to partner with various government officials to sterilize Native American, Puerto Rican, and black women without having their full consent. They also conducted experiments on those of color that involved syphilis, as well as the birth control pill. Countless people died due to this research.
One of the biggest examples of racism in the medical field occurred during the Guatemala and Tuskegee Syphilis studies that took place in 1932. During this period, the Tuskegee Institute created the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. Most people in the test were poor, black sharecroppers. They joined due to the promise of free health care. While penicillin was used for treating syphilis, most of the people in the study were not offered this treatment. As a result, many died and passed the disease on to their family.
2Race Issues in the Church
Unfortunately, the issue of racism has not left any institution in America untouched; this includes the church. The fact is, many Christian churches supported slavery, as well as the subjugation of various minority groups. They backed policies that helped to advance segregation and racism, as well.
During the latter part of the 20th century, as well as the earlier portion of the 21st century, some Protestant churches and the Catholic Church ended up apologizing for the role they played regarding how they perpetuated institutional racism in America. Many other churches made the commitment to enhance diversity by working to attract worshippers from many different ethnic backgrounds to reduce cases of racism.
In addition to the churches listed above, another church that actively supported racism was the Southern Baptist Convention. However, in 1995 the organization apologized for supporting this racial oppression. Five years after that, the United Methodist Church apologized for the exclusion of black worshippers and for the role they played regarding racial discrimination. The Episcopal Church made the announcement in 2006 that they would host a Day of Repentance for their endorsement of slavery.
While many churches have seen the errors of their way and taken steps to reduce their role in the racism of the past, there are others that still have some common issues. For example, some churches now discriminate against worshippers of color, as well as interracial couples.
1The Evolution of Racial Profiling
Racial profiling has been around for years. While it was not referred to this in the past, it was, and still is a common situation in the United States. If you have ever been followed in a store, pulled over by the cops for no apparent reason, or had to succumb to a “random” security check at the airport, you have likely been the victim of racial profiling.
Those who have supported racial profiling in the past (and even today) state that it is necessary because it helps to reduce crime. If there are certain types of people who are more likely to commit certain types of crimes, it only makes sense to target them, according to those who support the practice.
However, those who are opposed to racial profiling state that the practice is not effective. For example, when the war on drugs began in the 1980s, the law enforcement agents disproportionately targeted Latino and black drivers for the suspicion of narcotics. However, according to some studies related to traffic stops, it was discovered that white drivers are more likely to have drugs than their Hispanic or African American counterparts. This is a study that supports the idea that the authorities need to focus on individuals who behave in a suspicious manner, rather than on particular racial groups to help and lower crime in society.
Racial profiling is an issue that is still present today; however, there is evidence that with more knowledge of this is helping to reduce the instances of it.
Many people are going to disagree with the title used here. Many believe that racial relations are worse than they have ever been in history. However, when they take the time to review the facts and look into the past, they are going to quickly discover that this simply is not the situation.
From the genocide of the Native Americans to the systematic round-up and holding of Japanese-Americans, and even issues of racism in the church and in medicine, things today have improved significantly. Today, people of all races have the ability to vote, come and go freely, and enter into the greatest country in the world.
While some issues still require improvement, the United States has come far regarding race relations. With movements such as “Black Lives Matter,” more and more attention is being given to the race issues that are still present. Also, thanks to unlimited access to the media, and social media, racial discriminations and inequalities are more easily seen and understood than they ever were in the past.
As you can see, issues of race and discrimination have been present in America since the very beginning. However, when it comes to the state of race relations, it is also pretty clear to anyone who thinks about it, that it is better than it ever was in the past. While there are still efforts that need to happen to improve race relations further, it seems like the country is on the right path.