"The term 'race,' used infrequently before the 1500s, was used to identify groups of people with a kinship or group connection. The modern-day use of the term 'race' is a human invention."
(The National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2020)
Racism is the prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on a difference in race/ethnicity; usually by white/European descent groups against persons of color. Racism is racial prejudice plus power. It is the intentional or unintentional use of power to isolate, separate, and exploit others. The use of power is based on a belief in superior origin, the identity of supposed racial characteristics. Racism confers certain privileges on and defends the dominant group, which in turn, sustains and perpetuates racism.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (2020) defines the following types of racism.
"The world got along without race for the overwhelming majority of its history. The U.S. has never been without it."
- David R. Roediger (The National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2020)
The U.S. has a long history of racism against nonwhites. However, the information below is that of the racism against African Americans. The history is long and can't fit on one page; therefore, certain aspects have been highlighted and resources to learn more are provided.
Between 1525 and 1866 over 12 million people were abducted from Africa to be slaves in the Americas (Solly, 2020).
President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, which declared that on January 1, 1863, all slaves in the Confederacy would be free.
Reconstruction was the era that saw an effort to reintegrate the former confederate states and 4 million former slaves, back into the Union. However, southern state legislatures passed "black codes" beginning in 1865 to control the former slaves and other African Americans (History.com, 2020). Reconstruction was thus a failure because the "black codes" restricted the freedom of the former slaves, including compelling "them to work for white employers in a situation reminiscent of slavery" (PBS, 2020).
Reconstruction saw the Ku Klux Klan target African Americans and any whites who challenged white authority.
The Jim Crow Laws and Jim Crow era were enacted between 1876 and 1965.
The laws were named after a minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans.
This time period brought about the Great Migration of Black people to northern and western cities like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Racism in the United States today is characterized by many factors including, but not limited to, the following:
History.com. (2020). Reconstruction. https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/reconstruction This link opens in a new window
National Museum of African American History and Culture. (2020, July 20). Historical foundations of race. https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/historical-foundations-race This link opens in a new window
PBS. (2020). Reconstruction: The Black Codes . https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/reconstruction-black-codes/reconstruction-the-black-codes/ This link opens in a new window