In Europe and the United States the struggle against racism has progressed slowly and it is becoming less evident. With organizations such as Youth Against Racism in Europe, and simply having a black and white able to be friends, racism is beginning to decrease. It has only been fifty years or so since America’s public schools were ordered to become integrated, and we sure have come a long way since then.
The evolution of racism began with the slave trade among Europe, North America and Africa. The “new world” colonists provided a market for slavery. Europeans went to Africa and kidnapped or bought blacks, and then went to the developing Americas where they sold them as slaves. On their voyages from Africa to America the blacks were treated like animals. They were chained up in small quarters and when there was too much cargo the blacks would be thrown overboard so the ship would lose weight. They justified this by believing it furthered their national wealth because it was for the interests of their country. These were the worst times for racism. The slave trade went on from before 1750 until 1865 when slavery was abolished in the U.S. by the fifteenth amendment of the Unites States Constitution. After the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery, racism got a little better but it was still going on. The slaves were free but not equal to the whites and were treated as second-class citizens. From 1865 to the 1950’s racism was very closeted.
In the 1960’s John F. Kennedy legally prohibited racism and discrimination through the civil rights amendment to the Constitution. Racism still did not fully cease. People like Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers were all victims of racism. All three of them were assassinated because of their belief in civil rights. King established non-violent sit-ins and protests, which were often broken up by violent police officers beating peaceful protesters. A white man named James Earl Ray murdered King on April 4, 1968. Medgar Evers was a civil rights activist, who was shot by a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, a racist organization that still exists. A shocking example of racism was when a black tried to attend the University of Mississippi and was stopped by state police and the Governor. President Kennedy sent the National Guard to intervene and allow the person to go into the University. Even though these leaders were killed by a few anti-black people their goals did not die. They took a huge step forward to make the United Stated a less prejudiced nation.
Today in the United States there are feelings of hate toward Muslims because of the events of September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon were bombed by a handful of Muslim terrorists. Overall, the degree of racism has decreased but there is still much to be done.
European counties all claimed that they “discovered” North America, or what they called “the New World”. In actuality, indigenous people had been living there with their own religions, customs, and cultures for thousands of years. The Europeans persecuted, killed them and tried to convert them to Christianity. They justified this inhumane behavior through nationalism. These were racist acts because the reason they killed the Native Americans was because they were not like themselves. Four European countries all participated in the slave trade, which was fueled by nationalism. They were Spain, Britain, France, and Denmark. They believed that they had the right to conquer others and subjugate them. They thought that their religions were invalid, and that there culture and customs were those of heathens, people who do not believe in God. The Europeans forced their national values and their religion on the indigenous peoples. This nationalism fueled Imperialism, the spread of their countries’ cultures on others by force. The cost of this Imperialism was in turn paid for with racism demonstrated by the kidnapping of blacks who were only seen as trade items and not human brings. This Imperialism went on until the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which called for an end to European intervention in the Americas, though slavery continued until 1865.
Racism has come a long way from the ownership of a person to a hate crime, but it still needs to disappear. Racism occurs to often and we should work harder to achieve this goal of no hate.
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