Progress in Race
Racial progress is one of the facets of American life that continues to evolve slowly. America has come a long way in terms of racial equality but there are still many issues that involve race. When situations arise that reveal a persistent level of inequality, some choose to explain the incidents as further proof that the nation has a “race problem.” In order to understand how much progress has been made and to refute arguments that racial harmony is far from being achieved, it is important to view race relations in the context of where we’ve been and where we are today. Doing so will show that the issues that separated minorities from the white population have been improved and remind those who forget or never learned the history just how bad things were in the era when slavery was a legal institution in America.
Pre-Civil War America
In America, before the Emancipation Proclamation and before the Civil War that was waged to do away with slavery, divisions between the majority population and minorities were pronounced many areas of life. Of course, the most important example of division was slavery being legal and widely practiced in the southern portion of the country. Other divisions existed as well. For example, minorities (specifically black American citizens) were disenfranchised – meaning, blacks were not given full equality in voting, owning property, or holding public office. These restrictions were also applied to other minorities, though 19th century America did not have as significant of proportion of Hispanics as are present today (Grimsted, 1998).
The ways in which these practices of disenfranchisement played out in various parts of the country depended on the laws of a given state. Minorities in some northern states were able to own businesses and participate in the political system to an extent, while in other states, even free blacks were either legally or effectively barred from full participation in society (Grimsted, 1998).[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Emancipation and Jim Crow
After the 13th Amendment was passed, the legal abolishment of slavery, a new set of laws emerged to keep newly freed slaves and other minorities from full citizenship. Measures such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and other legal constraints stopped minorities from casting a ballot or running for public office. In circumstances where such restrictions were not legally sanctioned, racial discrimination was able to be used as a tool to exclude minorities because laws were not in place to require equal rights. Still, when such laws were in place, seeking redress in court was often futile as practices such as jury nullification spared discriminators from paying a price for racism (Perman, 2004).
Civil Rights Era
The Civil Rights Era, the period in American history when laws were passed and more effectively enforced to prohibit discrimination, was the beginning of a more inclusive American society. Since the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Acts were passed, federal courts were more frequently used to maintain the rights of minorities. With these new standards came a changing national mindset regarding race and ethnicity.
As generations passed, racial integration flourished, with notable exceptions, that allowed black, white, Latino, and Asian Americans to work together and attend school together. This evolution further reduced the atmosphere of racial bigotry and ushered in the present era of relative racial harmony (Bardolph, 1970).[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Present Day Race Relations
Some suspected (and hoped) that the election of the nation’s first black president, in 2008, would bring forth a “post-racial” era in American society. It is arguable that today, races are more regularly integrated and sentiments among the youngest citizens are more tolerant than ever. Still, in cases regarding criminal justice, college enrollment and graduation, and political involvement, there is remarkable progress but still opportunity to foster greater diversity and equal opportunity (Higginbotham, 2015). [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Bardolph, R. (1970). The civil rights record: Black Americans and the law, 1849-1970. Crowell.
Grimsted, D. (1998). American mobbing, 1828-1861: toward civil war. Oxford University Press.
Higginbotham, F. M. (2015). Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending racism in post-racial America. NYU Press.
Perman, M. (2004). Emancipation and Reconstruction. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.