Racism in America
The concept of racism took many forms during the human history. It has not been always about how a person looks like or what colour of the skin the person has. In the old times, racism existed in the ancient kingdoms as people were judged according to their blood, royal blood or ordinary. For those who did not have noble blood slavery was the only way because they did not share pedigree with their kings or royal family. The concepts of racism has revealed a different aspect as the time passed. It turned from not sharing the blood with the royal family into sharing blood that did not belong to the inhabitants of the same country, state, or kingdom. The most evidently racism was expressed in the United States, starting from its foundation until the twenty first century. However it is still present in the media nowadays.
According to Wise, “The term racism, as I use it, can and does mean two things: first, an ideological belief in the racial or cultural superiority or inferiority of certain people defined racially as members of a group, and secondly, as a system of inequity based on race, or perceived racial difference”. The American history represents a rich source of historical facts that have shaped the recent American society. Its long history is full with massive homicides of the natives, the Civil War that raged among the states and the assassinations of politicians who condemned racist acts against the blacks, like Abraham Lincoln, and racist attacks that the American community is still suffering, even nowadays after many centuries have passed. All those historical incidents turned the American past into one of the richest sources for anyone who wants to have deep knowledge and background that is connected with racism.
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The American Civil War was the result of the disagreement between the South and North, as a result, they suffered a bloody war as each side had its own perspective on how to shape the state. At that time, racism in the South represented the cruelest era of the American history. The blacks used to work on the farms of the white people who did not consider them as human beings but as creatures who were less valuable than animals. They lived in filthy conditions and were used to be bought and sold like property, because they were really dealt with as goods. Many black families suffered the separation from their members when the white proprietors sold some members of the same family and left the rest. For those slaves the separation was the easiest part as they had to suffer even more when they started to work in the fields and farms of their white owners. Many black babies had to be separated from their mothers and not only babies but also wives, husbands, brothers, and sisters. They used to do everything for their masters for nothing; their owners even used them for their own entertainment. For example, slaves were chased by wild dogs or took part in deadly fights that never ended before one killed another. The blacks suffered all of kinds of this horrible mistreatment only because they had different colour of the skin and because the white people considered themselves superior. The American Civil War started due to all those reasons, in addition to other political ones. Many novels from that time remain valuable today. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell showed the life of the black people in the South during the Civil War and the endeavors of their owners to present the Northern forces as savages and man eaters who wanted to kill all of them. Moreover, the author gave many descriptions about how the masters used to deal with the black people. The novel showed what the landlords were ready to do in order not to give up racism. They were determined to give false information about the North with the view of keeping their property, slaves, and their way of life. Later, this novel was turned into a film.
After the Civil War, many laws were adopted in order to eradicate to put an end to slavery in the country, Nevertheless, those laws were observed only for some time as people did not follow those rules for long. They began to act against the new legislation and came back to slavery. They tried to assassinate every politician who advocated for eradicating slavery. They managed to assassinate the American president at that time, Abraham Lincoln, who played a major in freeing the black people. He was killed during a theatre show. The proponents of slavery even broke the American law when they began to kidnap the black people who were, according to the Constitution of the United States, considered as free people. They abducted many of black people and sent them by ships to Europe to be sold like their own property. Those criminals used to set the ships on fire with all the blacks aboard in order not to be caught by the governmental forces and then be punished for breaking the law. For them, black people were considered as things that they could get any time they wanted and as many as they wanted. That is why, they did not see any problem in burning hundreds and thousands of human beings in order not to be punished by the government. Even after many years of the Civil War, many Americans remained racists but could not express themselves in public as there were many rules that had been to confront racist acts against black people, but racism became a part of the American daily life. According to Kwate, “In other words, racism is part and parcel of the business of daily life, deeply pervading the social world in the USA”.
As the United States benefited the most thriving movie industry in the world, the moviemakers used media to show either their rejection or acceptance of racism. In their films, those who believed in racism used every possible chance to give actors from ethnic minorities, mostly black people, very low positions and humiliated roles to represent the American society. They aimed at showing that those people, the blacks, were created for such filthy jobs and could not be civilized. In most cases, they were not considered as human beings at all. On the other hand, those who had a different point of view, who sympathized with ethnic minorities, tried to show that such behavior had horrible effects on the American society and depict the unexpected reactions of the humiliated people that were much more appalling than the deeds of the dominant race. In the movie White Dog, which was released in 1982, the director tried to show the results of such behaviors on the American society. The movie represent the story about a dog trained by a white racist to attack black people. Later, it is adopted by a man who finds out about this fact and tries to change the dog's behavior. As a result, the dog becomes trained on to kill white people. The reason is that the new owner is a black person. The main idea of the movie is to make people more aware of the dangerous side effects of such acts on both sides, the black and white people, and how such conduct might lead the country to a bloodbath.
When the modern era started, racism kept playing a role in the American daily life. In spite of the development and new achievements, racism has never disappeared completely. In some periods, it partially disappeared, but it began to reappear and control the life of the American people later. In addition, sometimes, its effect was much more brutal than it used to be in the past. Racists created new methods to show their attitude and did it in their daily lives without being accused of racism. It was completely normal for them that discrimination reached their doorsteps and services. For instance, many Americans wrote on their doors: “No entrance for dogs and niggers”, or, when it came to services like laundry, they wrote: “for the white only”’. This sentence indicated that this service could be used only by white people. Some moviemakers tried to analyze such conduct with a sense of humor and gave an idea that that sign meant washing only white clothes. They did not allow black people to wash clothes with the same machines that white people used. This approach demonstrated that racism became even crueler than it used to be before. Nowadays, racists do not even accept the existence of the blacks, although in the past they used them as servants, but today even the existence of black people is unaccepted. This indicates that the laws can no longer change something that has become a daily life habit, although there are many organizations and groups that try to fight such phenomena. Such organizations are supported by the government, which creates new laws almost every day to stop racist acts, yet people keep stating racist intentions. For them, it is something they have inherited, and it is sacred enough to be kept alive. Besides, racism has become mixed with their blood, like drugs and smoke, so it can no longer be given up. That is why, until today, no government or organization has managed to put an end to racism. Although the American society has witnessed many big changes, like having a black president, racism still exists and its is even crueler than before.
Racism in the United States has never been only about black people. As there are many ethnic minorities in the American society, the racial view of the white Americans has developed and today it concerns not only people of African origin. The American community is full with Latinas, Asians, Middle Easters, East Europeans, who are regarded as a source and the reason of problem that the American society has suffered, is suffering, or is yet to suffer. The racist view of the Americans, not all of them of course, does not consider any other aspect but the colour of the skin. Those people never care how educated the person is or how hard he/she works, or whether this person is peaceful or aggressive. The only thing racists care about is the coulor of this person. According to these intolerant individuals, the colour of their skin makes them superiors, puts them in a higher position, and gives them the right to dominate others. Each ethnic group, for them, has its own disadvantages that turn the whole race into a lower one. So, those ethnic groups represent two categories: bad people and a source of entertainment. They apply this theory in their daily life, and they look for new ways in order to spread this idea among their friends and other nations. They aim at demonstrating that this is the way the white people think look at others.
The Americans use movie industries to promote their ideas, either directly or indirectly. This way allows them to avoid any negative accusations and, at the same time, provides them with financial benefits. In their movies, mostly comedies, they show indirectly what they think about other ethnic groups who live in their community. They depict the Asians as servants whose only aim is to serve the Americans by working in dirty places and having very low jobs. Nevertheless, they do not show the Asian economy that is regarded as the strongest in the world, and avoid mentioning that the American economy depends mostly on the Asian markets and that the American government has borrowed millions of dollars from Asian countries. As for the East Europeans, girls are represented as prostitutes and men as weapons dealers who only deal with terrorists and want to cause problems in the American society. However, directors ignore the fact the American government ,in its long history, has started many wars in many different parts of the world, and their own history is stained by the Civil War. The films exhibit that the Middle Easters, in general, are all Muslims and Arabs whose only aim is to kill other people and do not share the same believes, Unfortunately those directors ignore the fact that the Middle Easters are not all Arabs and Muslims. The audience does not have the chance to know historical fact that shows that the Middle East has witnessed the birth of Christianity and, in origin, people there are Christians and not Arabs, and those Christians do suffer from the terror of the Arab and Islamist groups. Also, almost all Latin people are drugs smugglers and uncivilized beasts. It is a pity that the films have almost never spoken or showed that South America was the birth place of many civilizations like Aztec, Inca, and Maya, and that those nations were slaughtered by the same people who first came to America, killed its natives and established the United States. In general, most of the American films are based on stereotypes. They take one aspect, generalize it, and shows it to a common American citizen, which is enough to promote a false and wrong idea about both other nations and his\her own country. The American citizen reaches a conclusion that he\she is the only person who knows and has experienced the fruits of civilization, and so he\she has the right to be a superior person, while others, are nothing but savages who eat human flesh and know nothing about social well-being. Although those savages established many civilizations before the Americans, who built their state on blood. This behavior represents a form of the racist act that many, but not all, Americans do in order to show their false superiority over other nations.
Racism did not stop inside the American community rather it has spread overseas. The wars the United States had outside its borders, although they were originally started for economical reasons, were a reflection of how the Americans perceive other nations. For those imperialist, other nations were not qualified enough to rule their own countries and run business, so the Americans were needed to help them build better countries, promote freedom and democracy. Such acts were shown in many movies when the American soldiers dealt with other nations’ citizens as animals, the same way they treated black people in America. Such phenomenon was clearly represented during the American wars in Vietnam, Hindu China, Iraq, and many other places. Racism was also expressed inside the American army as soldiers and officers mistreated those who served in the same army but immigrated from other countries. Back in the United States, those immigrants participated in spheres of life, helped to establish a stabilized community, yet, for some Americans, they were unwelcomed despite the fact that they were not Hispanic or black. Those immigrants had the same colour of the skin but this was not enough for some Americans. Fletcher’s article suggests the following:
“White” was always the reference point for the dominant bloc, even though this did not in any way mean that everyone who was designated by the ruling classes to be “white” was automatically part of the ruling classes. It was also been the case that who is and is not considered white in a specific society is not always self-evident. A classic example from US history in the early 20th century was the debate over whether Armenians were to be considered “white” or not.
In conclusion, racism has been an inseparable part of the life of the United States since this country was founded. It turned into social habits of many people. Many Americans either tried to criticize this phenomena by their movies or by creating different organizations, but even after many centuries, many changes in the American society, and the black President, racism still exists. It concerns not only the blacks but also white people who have immigrated to the United States.
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