Will Racism Ever End in the United States?

| July 28, 2016

Exactly what does racism mean? This question is rarely posed in scholarly discourse for the reason that racism is one of the concepts that are easy to describe and difficult to define. It can be understood as a mentality of superiority for an ethnic group or race which accords them privilege and domination over other ethnic or racial groups. Racism has been part of the American history, dating back as early as the sixteenth century. Despite repeated efforts to eliminate it and the substantial progress made in these efforts, racism remains a prevalent issue. Consequently, ending this juggernaut in the United States is a far-fetched idea. A critical analysis of the America’s history and evolution shows that racism has become so strongly embedded into the country’s socio-economic, cultural, and political psyche that it will never be eliminated.
Firstly, the vice originated from a complex interplay of political, religious, philosophical, and scientific factors (Fredrickson 47). The first accounts of racism came in the wake of the introduction black slavery in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Interestingly, slavery had existed as far back as during the tenth century, though it was viewed in terms of social status as opposed to race. During this time, trade interactions took place between American whites and Africans, and subsequent interracial marriages were not demonized. This fact demonstrates that racism was not a hard-wired genetic effect but more of a human-developed phenomenon fueled by economic, political, and social factors.
Undeniably, the institutionalization of slave trade reached a climax at the onset of the Industrial revolution, a time when Europeans and Americans turned to Africa for a supply of slaves to work in their plantations and factories. Black slaves were preferred to white slaves because they were considered physically endowed and less intelligent. Furthermore, African leaders willingly sold some of their fellow countrymen and women to slave merchants. An analysis of this slavery history shows that the problem was not a calculated effort aimed at enslaving members of the black race, but rather an economic strategy (Wang 87). In an attempt to capitalize on the labor provided by black slaves, American policymakers implemented racially discriminative laws. Once the objective of subduing the targets was realized, it marked the beginning of an era of severe oppression against African-Americans.
Consequently, racially motivated policies were extended to target non-black slaves such as Asians and Indians. By the time it was abolished, racism had fully been integrated into the mainstream American social order. Oppression based on race meant that African-Americans were inferior to their white counterparts. Gradually, slavery was replaced by institutionalized racism. The situation was worsened by philosophers, theorists, and scientists who argued that black people were an inferior race that was closer to animals than humans in terms of genealogy. Fortunately, much progress has been made in the post-World War II era, whereby the pursuit of racial equality at one time even precipitated into a civil rights movement. During this struggle, many African-American leaders used their political and religious platforms to campaign against the ongoing racial discrimination.
Today, the conventional view is that racism has been eradicated, a belief that is properly aligned with reality. The systematic form of racism that was being perpetuated in the early modern American has now been replaced with covert racism. Surveys in the United States show that most people think the racism is a bigger issue today than it was about twenty years ago (EricDyson 90). Even after the election of the first African-American president, Barrack Obama, America continues to experience numerous cases of anti-racism protests (EricDyson 90). Consequently, the idea of racism was romanticized, creating a blanket opinion of eradication of racial oppression.
A case in point is the racially motivated Ferguson unrest. It was an eye opener for the underlying and existing racial tensions in America. It created a heated discussion on the gap between the African-American community and law enforcement agencies. The combined fear and anger the two groups have directed towards each other means that racism is still a deep-rooted problem in America. In another example, the shooting of nine people in a Charleston church by suspect named Dylann Roof provide further credence to America’s contemporary race problem. Roof committed the murders with the hope of sparking a racial war and promoting white supremacy. These isolated events indicate the present racial hatred is simply an extension of racism that has become permanently etched on the country’s socio-economic, cultural, and political spheres.
Furthermore, the internet has greatly contributed to the manifestation of racism in its present form in the contemporary American society (Wang 125). White supremacist groups now use the internet to instill racist ideologies into unsuspecting. Black groups also feature on the Internet inciting fellow black people and creating fear among non-black people. Consequently, racism has become a two-way problem, whereby racial vitriol is being perpetuated by and against African Americans. It is therefore not surprising that the problem has become a highly complicated phenomenon.
As a corollary to this, the world may wait for eternity for a day when racism will be wiped out of the American society. This sad reality continues to confront the American society even though racism is not a genetic characteristic but rather, a socially constructed phenomenon. From the smallest level of families to nations, everyone identifies with a certain group. Negativity and violence are however not ways of demonstrating kinship and belonging. Eliminating violence and downgrading on basis of race ought to be replaced by the embracement of racial diversity.
In conclusion, racism is evolutionary construct that has become an integral part of the American society. It continues to be reinvented to accommodate the political, social, and economic changes. Rather than end, this problem will continue manifesting itself in different ways in this society. It has centuries-long evolution process for it to develop it into a complex mesh of religious, economic, and social relations. Today’s anti-racism efforts have failed because they have not been adapted to new and sophisticated manifestations of racism. The harsh reality, therefore, is that the problem will continue to be an defining element of the American public life.

Works Cited
EricDyson, Michael. The Black Presidency: Barrack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcout, 2016. Print.
Fredrickson, George. M. Racism: A Short History. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 2002, Print.
Wang, Lu-In. Discrimination by Default: How Racism Becomes Routine. New York: New York University Press. 2005, Print.

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