The Development of Racism

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The Development of Racism

Slavery's twin legacies to the present are the social and economic inferiority it conferred upon blacks and the cultural racism it instilled in whites. Both continue to haunt our society. Therefore, treating slavery's enduring legacy is necessarily controversial. Unlike slavery, racism is not over yet. (Loewen 143)

Racism can be defined as "any set of beliefs, which classifies humanity into distinct collectives, defined in terms of natural and/or cultural attributes, and ranks these attributes in a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority" (Blum 5). It can be directly linked to the past and still, centuries later, serves as a painful reminder that race continues to be one of the "sharpest and deepest divisions in American life" (Loewen 138). What were the causes of racism? How did it develop historically? In order to answer those complex questions, I plan to examine the conditions of America's history from colonialism to present day society. It was these conditions of America's past that promoted the development of racist practices and ideas that continue to be embraced by many to this day.

The idea of superiority and inferiority of entire groups were largely the result of the encounters between the Europeans and the indigenous native peoples of the Americas. Christopher Columbus was one of the first individuals who played a chief role in the birth of both racism and slavery. Upon the so-called "discovery" of America, European self-consciousness rose to the point that Europeans began to notice the similarities between each other. "There were no 'white' people in Europe before 1492" (Loewen, 66). But after the beginning of transatlantic slave trade, Europeans began to "see 'white' ...

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...mproved, especially as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, racial inequalities still remain; from income to IQ levels, to the number of the incarcerated and life expectancies. While Americans like to think of our country as the equal land of opportunity, clearly it is not. Racism continues to remain "our American Obsession" (Loewen 139).

Works Cited

Blum, Lawrence. I'm Not A Racist But: The Moral Quandary of Race. New York: Cornell University Press, 2002. 5

Chomsky, Noam. Understanding Power, The Indispensable Chromsky. Eds. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel. New York: New Press, 2002. 135.

Loewen, James. Lies My Techer Told Me; Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. 60-169.

Zinn, Howard. A Peoples History of the United States. New York: HaperCollins Publisher Inc., 1999. 25-33.
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