Rose Lamberti is a student with a strong interest in women's rights.
In the United States, a thick history of racism is ingrained into the American identity. The Civil War has influenced the way Americans treat one another and the government policies put into place based on race since the war. Racism is definitely not something of the past, and ignorance is only letting racism continue to be fuelled into this American identity. But Americans have the power to change that.
The Civil War
The Civil War had a detrimental effect on the American people and influenced the way society is today. It started with a controversy between the states of the North and the South; this split the United States into two separate nations.
The three reasons as to why the Civil War began in the first place were industry vs. farming, states' rights, and most prominently, slavery. Racism almost completely destroyed the USA because of the severity of these divisions.
The election of Abraham Lincoln put fear in many slave owners and in the Southern states because of the support slavery gave the Southern economy and the racism already imbedded in the nation. After Lincoln was elected, Southerners and slave owners were afraid of their “rights” being stolen because of Lincoln’s policies. They acted out in battle against Lincoln being elected, commencing the Civil War by Confederate states separating from The Union with the attack on Fort Sumter commencing battle in 1861.
The Union, led by Lincoln, brought the states back together through battle. The Confederate states rejoined the Union, reconstruction began, and the United States was “united” once again. Although, the United States may have rid of slavery, African Americans soon realized that freedom was not equality and racism continued to remain a reality for people of colour in American society.
Jim Crow Era and Beyond
Although the states were united after the Civil War, the people were more divided than ever. During the years after the reconstruction of the Union, Southern states started implementing laws known as “Jim Crow Laws” which would separate whites from African Americans in schools, trains, restaurants, work places, and so on.
The segregation period lasted until 1964 which continued to infuse racism into the American identity. African Americans were lynched, beaten, and hosed down during protests and during their everyday life. Through the 1970s to the '90s, there was progress to end racism, but the violence persisted. Attacks with over 140 fires set to Black churches in the South, police brutality which still persists today, and since 1934, over 100 mass attacks of racial violence towards communities of colour. Even within the American government and congress, people of colour were and are underrepresented.
Voting and Disenfranchisement
Even though the African American community gained the vote in the 1960s, the Electoral College system that is used for voting in America during elections seems to benefit white representation over people of colour. No state that has majority of the seats in the Electoral College has voters of colour as the majority of the electorate. This completely excludes people of colour from having an equal voice to whites. Yes, slavery is over, and yes, segregation is over, but why does the underrepresentation and the unfair treatment towards people of colour continue in America? Because even though policies change, people’s opinions stay the same.
Today, racism is alive and well. Progress has been made and we continue to push for equality for people of all walks of life, but why does racism continue? We claim that racism is disappearing and we are finally all equal, but is that really true? On August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a group of counter protestors came out to a white supremacy rally to fight against racism and for the removal of Confederate statues. The protests became violent, and one woman was killed by a white supremacist as he drove his car through a crowd of counter protestors. This is what the American identity is unfortunately linked to and it will continue to be, unless there is a change for good.
A Way Forward
If we want there to be an end to this racism, we should stop honouring those Confederate soldiers that fought for slavery and racist ideologies as “heros”. If we continue to honour Confederates as patriots, we’re continuing to give a platform for racist voices to be a representation of American values. The Civil War ended slavery, the Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation in schools and influenced the end as a whole in 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equality and justice for the African American community and we honour him, but we’re are not united together to continue his dream. If we keep honouring those who wanted slavery, how will we further shape the American identity to be what it really should be; united, not divided.
The Civil War was a good thing as it ended of slavery in the 1800s, but it wasn’t the end to racism. Because of the Civil War and the events that followed, racism is something that people relate America to. It’s imbedded in their history, it’s unavoidable. Yes, we must acknowledge the history and talk about it, but that doesn't mean we let it justify actions of hatred and racism in this day and age. The Union, Harriet Tubman, Linda Brown, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, they did not fight for their rights just for the mistreatment of African Americans and people of colour to persist. The American identity is laced with racism, historically and presently, but Americans have the power to make the United States united once and for all and end this division throughout the nation.
- America's Long Overdue Awakening on Systemic Racism | Time
For many who have spent their lives fighting for racial equity, these nationwide protests and moment of reckoning have been a long time coming.
- 26 charts that show how systemic racism is in the US - Business Insider
Research has extensively documented the differences between the Black and white experience in the US, from wealth and education to incarceration.
Dijjjon Quavious on October 05, 2018:
I connect with ON a spiritual level. very message. racism is bad. cant wait for the next fantastic article