Saturday, March 28, 2009

Racism in the USA

According to Longman's Dictionary of American English, it defines racism as "Political and social practices where one believes that their race is the best." Among many issues that United States are facing today, racism rank as one of the most difficult issue to face. Most racism victims in United States are African American, Chinese and Jewish. So in this research paper I want to focus on:
- What is the biggest group of racism in US? How do they think about racism?
- How African American get racism? Who are the most important people to fight against with racism, what are their ways to solve problems?
- How Chinese get racism?
- How Jewish get racism?

As the definition above has stated, racism will only happen if one person from certain race think that his/her race is superior among others. While some people have mild discrimination toward other certain races, some people or organization actually go to the extreme to define their principle, such as the Ku Klux Klan or famously called as KKK.

Ku Klux Klan is an organization that was built on the principle that Caucasian American is the best race and that other races are inferior. They were first famous during the 1870s where they would kill people that were either other races or supporters of those races. Veterans of Confederate Army organized them. They were dressed in white robes and sheets and their motto was "Save white America". They gradually faded and arose again in 1915 and reached its peak on 1920s with 4 million members. Racial tolerance and Government attempts to stop them later lower their members to few thousands. Ku Klux Klan is one of the biggest racism terrorists group in United States.

African American racism
Many significant figures stand out during the history of United States to stop racism. Some stand out by speaking in public while others use form of media such as novel and movies. Among these figures that stand out by speaking in public, Martin Luther King JR and Malcolm X are probably the most famous one. Martin Luther King JR is famous for his "I have a dream" speech. Martin Luther King JR speak in public and try to persuade everybody to see that violence will solve nothing and that violence itself is root of all evils.

Malcolm X, unfortunately used violence to solve this problem. They may have different views but they have one cause. Martin Luther King JR has always believed that "good" white people is existed while Malcolm X has always believed that there is no "good" white people leading him to fight violence with violence. This statement was clear in his book titled "The Ballot or The Bullet" page 261 where he said "Usually, it's the white man who grins at you the most, and pats you on the back, and is supposed to be your friend. He may be friendly, but he's not your friend". Malcolm X would do anything to get his point across for example barricading him and his supporters. Fortunately, later in his life, Malcolm X came to realize that there are "good" white people as he stated in his book.

"I tried in every speech I made to clarify my new position regarding white people - 'I don't speak against the sincere, well meaning, good white people. I have learned that there are some. I have learned that not all white people are racists" (The Ballot or The Bullet, 367)

Martin Luther King JR and Malcolm X are now remembered as the most important figures in history that paved the way for United States to reach a country where there is no racism.
Many authors also support no-racism in United States, such as author of "To Kill a Mocking Bird", Nelle Harper Lee. In this novel about racism, a black guy, a slave was wrongly accused of raping a woman that he works for. While the whole town believes he was guilty of what he was accused of, one man stood up for him and tried to free him in the court of law. During the court, many irrelevant evidences were shown and yet everybody still believes that he is guilty and ignored the valid evidences that he is innocent. The author was trying to say that black people could easily be the scapegoat for any crimes. Although in the end of the movie the black guy died in the hands of the villagers, this novel has a big impact on society because it proves that racism is still large in United States.

Chinese racism
Other races that have fall victims to racisms include Chinese and Jewish. Chinese were first immigrated to United States with the same reason the European came, gold and there were famine and poverty times in China. During the mid 1800s, discrimination against Chinese reached its peak. Chinese was welcomed to work with American but not to live with them ("Welcomed, but donбпt live with us; segregation is order of the day"). This was worsen with the Congress' Chinese exclusion act in 1882 stating:

"Whereas, in the opinion of the government of the United States the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory thereof."

While Chinese that has families residing in United States were excluded from this act. Later, loopholes were found and the immigrants would brought false papers showing that they have families in United States. To avoid this, later in 1910, Immigration station at Angel Island was built. This station was more like a prison for the Chinese where they are interrogated and were forced to live like prisoners for weeks, months or even years. Some chose to escape their humiliation by suicide. Life for the detainees was very stressful because they would be placed in small crowded living quarters. One hundred people would sleep in one bunk bed, three high in columns in a room about 1000 square feet.The interrogation was also a frightening event. The immigrants would be asked detailed and irrelevant questions designed to trap the detainees. Many of the immigrants express their anger by writing poems about their treatment and detainment on the wall. Fortunately in 1940, this act is abolished and the immigration station has become a historic landmark until now.

The most famous racism that has ever happened to Jewish is probably during the ruling of Adolf Hitler in Germany where many Jewish were caught and thrown into concentration camp to work. This movement were called the Nazis and stopped for a while until Neo-Nazis came out. Neo-Nazi or Neo-Fascism refers to any political or social movement founded on the ideology of Nazism or Fascism.

According to, Neo-Nazi and Neo-Fascism movement are generally racists, anti-semitic and xenophobic. Anti-semitic means when a person is hostile toward someone because they have Jewish ancestry and xenophobic means dislike toward foreigners. Neo-Nazi was formed in the 1960s and gained more followers when Germany was united. Most of their followers are teenagers from Eastern Germany. They would burn people with Jewish ancestryбпs houses or Jewishбпs houses. Unfortunately, until now, Neo-Nazi is still around and although they have fewer followers but they still remain a threat to Jewish.

From above information that I have presented, the similarities among all of them are the fact that a certain type of people believed that their races are superior to others and they would go to the extreme to make sure that their nation only populated with this certain race. While I believe that most people tend to discriminate certain races mildly some people actually go too far to prove their principle for example the Nazis and KKK.

Among all the similarities from above examples, we can conclude some differences. First of all, we can conclude that black and Jewish people got it the worst because they were actually killed and tortured. Chinese on the other hand, received bad treatments while none of them are actually murdered on purpose by anyone. Some of them chose suicides as their way of escape.

Racism can only be stopped if all human races realized that we are all equal and that colors are only skin deep. Racism can have very simple solution, unfortunately it is complicated because of how one race discriminate others will cause both of the races to discriminate each other. For example, black people were being slaved during the 1800s and because of this, white people think that black people are inferior to them. During the 1900s many white people came to realize that black people are also human being and that they should treat them the same. This might seem like a happy ending but in reality, racism didnбпt fade because by then black people had hate white people and they think that white people is their enemy because of how they were treated. Therefore, I believed that the only solution to racism is an understanding among races that everybody is equal.

In conclusion, racism is a very important issue in United States. Racism is born when a certain people or organization feel that they are superior compared to other races. There are many historic figures that try to stop racism such as Martin Luther King JR and Malcolm X. I believed that racism only could be stopped if there is understanding among races.

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