Racism and discrimination are engraved in the US society since the slavery era. In the last year or so, the "Black Lives Matter" movement is a representation of the Civil Rights Movement that rocked American in the 1950s and 1960s while the blacks were protesting for equal rights. Likewise, the Black Lives Matter is a movement to fight racial profiling due to the rampant cases of white police shooting unarmed black men. The US racial history has influenced the racial relations in the US today because millions of African Americans languish in the backwaters of the society. The minorities especially the black community has permanently endured second-class citizen status (Foner 66). The contemporary American society is ridden with the "color line" problem, and the dreams that race would be insignificant soon remains utopian.
Martin Luther King Jr "Letter from Birmingham Jail" gives a detailed challenge the Negro race faced in America in the period after the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. According to Luther King, the US was founded on the premise that all men were created equal yet the society was highly segregated. First, the blacks were enslaved to enrich the lives of the whites in America. After the end of slavery, the freedman was forced to lead a life of fear, isolation, discrimination, and segregation. Most importantly, the fight for justice is a significant theme in King's letter. In the American south, social bias was internalized in the white neighborhoods and communities. Discrimination was also manifested in different forms possible in the daily lives of the American people, particularly in the southern towns. For instance, in Birmingham, King states how traders used racial signs in their stores. However, after a compromise was made to allow dialogue between traders and activists due to trade boycotts, store owners agreed to remove the signs. Nevertheless, only a few signs were removed, but the rest remained intact, an action that signified that the whites were not ready to dialogue and eradicate racial tension in the US.
The Afro Americans had been socialized to understand that they were incapable of achieving greatness. However, when he found black pilots managing African flights, it was evident that blacks were just as capable as their white counterparts. Furthermore, since the church was the ideal representation and advocate of the black community, Martin Luther King Jr criticized the white churches for promoting segregation because they did not welcome African Americans. In the Southern states, the whites had doubled their efforts to maintain supremacy through the color line a trend that was picked by Westerners and Northerners. The Africans were expelled from public life with a strict ban on interracial marriages imposed. The racial boundaries were imposed in the American racial history to uphold white privilege.
On the other hand, the Black Codes in American history expound on the extent of racial tension in the past. The Black Codes represented a series of laws and statutes enacted in the Southern states in the period immediately after the Civil War also known as the Reconstruction Era. The laws and ordinances were imposed to undermine and limit the freedom of freed men and women. Also, the Black Codes were designed to ensure the availability of cheap labor after the abolition of slavery (Foner 81). Under the Black Codes, the black people or ex-slaves were required to sign annual labor contracts and were fined, arrested, and forced into unpaid labor if they refused to oblige to the settlements. President Andrew Johnson, a Republican did little to address the Black Codes and ultimately lost his presidency. After critically analyzing the Black Codes, it is evident that the Southerners wanted to prevent a black uprising against racism, injustices, and segregation among other problems. Moreover, the establishment of the Black Codes led to the development of Vigilantism that promoted an environment for secret organizations like the Ku Klux Klan (Jaspin 46). The use of Black Codes to limit the freedom of ex-slaves is in line with Martin Luther King's fight against black oppression after decades of waiting.
In the modern societal setting in the US, there still exist segregated white neighborhoods. In the past, blacks were forced to ride at the back of the bus. They were also denied the right to education due to segregation in the school system. Currently, even though most people naively argue that racism does not exist in the US, the reality is that blacks are stereotyped. Police profiling targeting people of African descent evoke the questions of when equality will prevail in the American society. According to statistics, more black people are subject to traffic stops than their white counterparts. Apart from that, blacks live in poverty and the wealth, and income disparity is growing significantly high in the US. The racial tension that exists in the US is as a result of the country's bitter past where some of the citizens faced oppression from the dominant and politically empowered whites (Jaspin 69). It is a high time that the US remains true to its founding principles. Equality should be imposed in the US because all citizens have paid the price to make America what it is today. Cases of police shooting unarmed black men should cease to exist, and perpetrators punished instead of running free. People should not be judged because of their skin color, religion, ethnicity, gender and race. What matters is that we are humans irrespective of our differences.
Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. WW Norton & Co, 2017.
Jaspin, Elliot. Buried in the Bitter Waters: the Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in
America. Basic Books, 2007.King, Martin Luther, and Jr. "Letter From Birmingham City Jail."
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