Racism in the United States
Diversity is the cornerstone that makes the United States unique in its “melting pot” identity, but racism can be the unfortunate side effect of that diversity. Racism is defined as “A psychological attitude…based on demonstrably false theories of racial differences appropriated by a culture, even though there is no scientific evidence that race is a meaningful way to identify social or biological differences.” (Lemert, 2006) Today, racism is an issue still present in the United States as it is in many parts of the world. But one of the major issues with racism in the United States today is that the prominent focus tends to ...view middle of the document...
Unfortunately this takes the emphasis away from the manner in which other races and ethnic groups in the United States have been treated throughout its history.
It is undeniable; this is a significant and unfortunate part of United States’ history. By 1780, African slavery was well established in the country, with slaves constituting about one-sixth of the national population, or about half a million people and ballooning to nearly four million by 1860. (McAfee, 2002) By 1870, these slaves were free and, when joined with the previously freed blacks, made up around 13 percent of the population, by far the largest minority group, and systematically treated as second class citizens the civil rights movement in the 1960s. But despite a large portion of the attention given to this demographic, they were not the only group to be treated as such.
First and foremost are the indigenous peoples of North America. Better known as “Native Americans” or “Indians”, this group of people was systematically excluded from United States society throughout its history. Starting with the arrival of Christopher Columbus, the natives were treated poorly and their numbers dwindled so much that some have come to call it the “American Genocide”. Estimates vary but it is believed conservatively that the population in the area of the United States was somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 million people when Columbus arrived, and four centuries later that number was reduced by 95%. (Johnston, 1996)
Through laws and national policy the native peoples were gradually forced from their homes, made to assimilate and conform to European-American society, and eventually had their lands taken away and pushed west of the Mississippi River onto reservations by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. (Carlson & Roberts, 2006)
Another group of Americans that have seen their share of racism are those of Asian descent. The Chinese and Japanese immigrants, primarily in the western United States, were treated as second class citizens and the United States government even targeted the immigration of the Chinese with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the Japanese with diplomatic agreements between the United States government and Japan in 1908. (Wang, 2008) Additionally, it was determined by California Supreme Court in the 1850s that Chinese immigrants (or any non-whites for that matter) did not have rights to testify against white citizens. The treatment of Asians saw one of its lowest moments when Japanese Americans were interned into camps by the United States government in 1942 in the wake of Pearl Harbor.
People considered of Hispanic descent have also been targeted by systematic, racist policies. After the Mexican-American War, the United States annexed much of the current Southwestern area from Mexico, and the Mexican population found themselves subject to racism and discrimination. Probably the most glaring incident against the group was the Mexican...