Race in American society
Posted by Real Postmag on May 21st, 2019
The citizens of the United States of America have struggled for equality for over a century. Both those in positions of leadership and those out of them have taken part in this struggle – against slavery and to gain equal rights especially for the black Americans. The most notable leader who stood for equality was Thaddeus Stevens; he was the Republican floor leader in the House of Representatives (Palmer & Ochoa, 1997). He was regarded as the most prominent Radical Republican during his tenure, particularly when he addresses the Congressional leaders regarding the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. Similarly, while serving as a delegate to the constitutional convention of Pennsylvania, he opted not to sign the state’s new frame of government since the right to vote for the African Americans had been abolished. Further still, Stevens was one of the first people during the Civil War to champion the setting free of the slaves and acceptance of black soldiers into the military. Stevens also proposed the distribution of small farms to former slaves as well as confiscation of the Confederate planters’ land.
Ever since the nation gained independence, democracy in the United States is ever evolving. This has been influenced by various factors such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, to the modern day debates about the war out of the country and the measures in place to guarantee equality and freedom for the citizens. Usually, the United States is considered as one of the best countries with regards to the provision of equal rights. However, it is prudent to note that it took the effort of the Americans as a whole to achieve this and the ability to take part in politics and the government when choosing leaders. The Civil War played a great part in the evolution of democracy and the end of slavery. This was further enhanced by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which led to full civil and political equality in the country.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 formed the basis for the expansion of political power during the 20th century (Maltz, 1990). Political participation decreased gradually over this period which was contrary to the expectation of most people. Notably, the percentages of both the whites and blacks in America who voted in 2004 were similar whereas significantly fewer Asian Americans voted during the same election. The number of voters who registered to vote in all the races increased and it can be attributed to income. The decline in the number of those who voted from the different races is a result of an increase in the influence of mass media and money within the American society.
After the Civil War, the African Americans were excited about the freedom and they had high expectations because slavery had ended and both the economic and social systems were destroyed. Different interests and objectives characterized the postwar era among the key players namely: the whites and the blacks, radical conservatives and the liberal reformers, slave owners and the slaves, the legislators and the presidents, and generals against the missionaries. The era, until the federal troops were withdrawn from the South in 1877, is referred to the reconstruction period (Foner, 2006).
A legal framework was developed to grant full citizenship to former slaves and consequently their voting rights through the mentioned constitutional amendments. The missionaries and reformers also provided food and clothing while operating as teachers and nurses. The military provided protection for the blacks against any form of reprisal and manipulation, especially from the unhappy Confederates. Black Americans and other races that were previously marginalized were able to acquire education, reconstruct their families, seek rights to own land, organize themselves to seek elective political offices.
However, the blacks also faced numerous challenges as they sought to settle into the American society as equals. According to Eric Foner, Reconstruction ended up being “America’s unfinished revolution.” This was caused by the resistance they faced from the white Southerners as they attempted to attain black autonomy and the reluctance of the North to support aspirations of blacks instead of preserving the privileges that were still enjoyed by the whites in the American society (Foner, 2011). The blacks also had to deal with a widespread belief in the inferiority of the blacks and the negative attitudes about work. As a result of this, only the whites in the south enjoyed democracy after the Civil War.
Intimidation and violence were readily acceptable among the whites with regards to enforcing the ideology of white supremacy and black subservience. This led to racial segregation within the American society whereby the whites could enjoy certain privileges within the society regardless of some decisions by a conservative Supreme Court. The court felt that the federal government had the mandate to safeguard the rights of the African Americans. Once the Southern legislatures enforced the Jim Crow laws, the African Americans were forced to use separate facilities in public spheres. This included but not limited to train cars, drinking fountains, train cars, and rest rooms. During the nineties, the blacks organized themselves to form the black movements. These movements were aimed at liberating the African Americans from the white oppression and segregation.
Some movements’ actions included violent actions against the whites whereas some employed non-violent actions. The movements led to the emergence of black leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Junior. A combination of violent and non-violent actions by these movements, even after the assassination of their leaders, led to the eventual abolition of segregation. This marked the foundation of the more integrated American community.
The current American society is comprised of people from several races who coexist in relative harmony. However, it is important to note that the present state of affairs is a result of years of struggle between the whites and the other races. Over the years, the whites have sought to enjoy some privileges in the American society at the expense of the other races; particularly the blacks. Some factors enhanced attempts by the blacks to gain equality in the society. First, the Fourteenth Amendment allowed the African Americans the political and civil equality. Second, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act led to the expansion of political powers. Lastly, the black movements that were formed during the nineties sought to liberate the blacks from segregation and oppression. Whereas some movements were violent, some were nonviolent in their attempts to gain equality. Currently, people from races other than the whites within the American society can access education, healthcare, and other social services. Non-violent actions can still be used to address some inequalities in the current American society (Gormley, 2015). For example, to champion for the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, and Transsexual community. For more information of Latest Entertainment Stories and Unreasonable Search And Seizure visit here : https://www.realpostmag.com/
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