African American Racism – Constructing Racism – Term Paper – camilleastburn
African American Racism – Constructing Racism
Camille EastburnSociologyCory MartinOctober 3, 2016Constructing Racism The current political climate in the United States has caused racial tensions among certain groups to be at an all-time high. Many citizens of the U.S. dispute why racism is at such a high level, whether it be historical influence or the actions of current racial groups. To begin to pick apart the current racial status in America, one must turn to history. Today current American citizens are still at a loss to justify the evil actions that had taken place against African Americans. There exists an inability to understand why slavery and segregation could have even happened. Since the beginning of America’s history the white man has believed that people of different colors were more animalistic than the European white man. Dating back to the 1600s African Americans were slaves to the settlers of the New World. The Europeans saw the villages of these people and came to the conclusion that they were not as developed as the white male, and were made by God to be slaves. They took advantage of the African’s lifestyle, which was not as advanced as the European’s, and stole them by force to work on farms in their New World. The European white man had begun to build a social construct around race. More than one hundred years ago, W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being socially constructed and used as a biological explanation for what was actually understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of “white” and “black” as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions and segregations ignored the scope of human diversity. Du Bois knew that these proxies were a weak description of genetic diversity. He attempted to discourage these ideas and hopefully completely wipe them out. Many did not follow Du Bois since that his ideas challenged the science that every citizen had already learned. His ideas were certainly ahead of his time.
Decades later, in 1936 Jesse Owens won a gold medal in the Berlin Olympics. He succeeded as a black male in a time where the Aryan race was considered superior, a time where Adolf Hitler hated those who did not have blonde hair and blue eyes and a time where the black man was not considered a man at all. When Owens won many did not understand why, as the white man had the purest genetics and was superior to that of the colored man. The geneticists in that time period believed they could show the differences between the white man and the black man, once again. They wanted to show why the “Negro Athlete” was so great “and that that reason must reside in biology rather than in, culture or history or circumstance. And Jesse Owens was picked apart” (Goodman, Race- The Power of An Illusion), even Owens’s coach could not be won over by his success and considered him to be “closer to the primitive”. He accredited Owens’s athletic ability to biological factors, stating that not long ago the Negro had to have these abilities to survive in the jungle. Unfortunately for Owens, his success was not credited to his work ethic and talent but rather to the color of his skin.While many picked apart Owens’s body, an African American anthropologist and physician, Montague Cobb, studied him and came to the conclusion that not one part of his body could be considered to be unambiguous to Negros. He challenged the racial science of the time and showed the eugenicists just how wrong they were. Eugenicists came along right around the 1920s, and they believed in the separation of the genetics to keep the white race pure. By Cobb showing that there was no difference in “white” and “black” body parts he took away the line of reasoning that eugenicists thought they had proven.Many tortuous years and polarizing arguments had gone into showing that science does not prove racial differences, but rather that it is simply cultural difference shaped by time and location. Abraham Lincoln had fought to abolish slavery and eliminate the idea that African Americans were any different than the white man. He tried to instill in his country that slavery was inherently evil and had to end, but the idea of inferiority has endured for hundreds years even after a divisive civil war. Segregation lasted long after Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to challenge Jim Crow laws and the action of segregation. He stated that he had a dream that all men would be created equal, and not put into proxies, meaning diversity would not be ignored but also not hinder a human being. MLK thought that people are all different but characteristics that make them different and unique should not be seen as inferior or superior.
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(2016, 12). African American Racism – Constructing Racism. EssaysForStudent.com. Retrieved 12, 2016, from