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Running head: OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS

Oppression and Discrimination of African Americans


khalid alshahaimi
University Of Kentucky

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


Abstract
Historically, the white Americans subjected the African Americans to severe
discrimination and oppression. They, the white Americans, held positions of power within their
society and exploited their positions to ensure that the African Americans remained under their
control. Most of the historical events about the African Americans centered on their struggle for
equal opportunities and civil rights. Similarly, the struggles of the African Americans led steadily
to acceptance and changes in attitude from the white Americans. On the other hand, all the
struggles of the African Americans in efforts to gain equal rights cost their society lives. Many
African Americans died in the hands of the white Americans, and the irony is that the fight
against discrimination and oppression persists to date. Despite the civil war and its attempts to
liberate of the African Americans from the white Americans, elements of oppression and
discrimination still exist up to today. Despite the African Americans making significant progress
in their fight for civil rights and equality, it is sad that the fight persists. Much has been done
from amendments to the Constitution to making new laws that would ensure equality for all.
However, the struggle that was meant to last during the civil war persists to date. For years, the
African Americans were deemed as properties. Subjected to slavery, their lived were miserable
and unbearable. The white Americans took advantage of the unity amongst themselves to exploit
the African Americans. By using their position of power, the Americans formulated rules and
laws that ensured that the African Americans would never be at par with their society. As the
discrimination persisted, so did the urge to rise and fight for their people. What the African
Americans knew was that their fight for liberation and equality was to last for decades.

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


Introduction
The struggle for equality began decades ago. Unfortunately, the fight has never been won
as individuals all over the world keep fighting against discrimination. In most cases, the most
common type of discrimination is racial discrimination. Perhaps the African Americans race is
the most discriminated against or the most documented on. The world is full of different
individuals from different places. Each of who belongs to a race. Back in the years when
America was still fighting for its independence, the nation was very young and still developing.
Labor was scars, and the economy was bad. As such, some individuals decided to take
advantages of the minorities. Most of whom were of African descent; the white Americans
enslaved African Americans. Moreover, they exploited their position in power to make laws that
would ensure they; the white Americans had control over the African Americans (McGuire,
2011).
The subjection of the African Americans to slavery was but a start. They were not
allowed to own property, vote, walk freely or engage in personal income generation activities
(McGuire, 2011). Ideally, these are evidence of the oppression of the African Americans.
However, the predicaments did not stop there, McGuire (2011) explains that they were subjected
to abuse, stereotypes, and housing discrimination. Initially, the African Americans persevered
until they could no longer stomach any more oppression and discrimination. They, the African
Americans, stood up to protest the manner in which the white Americans treated them. The
struggle for civil rights and equality started as protests. However, it transpired into a civil war.
Despite the civil war has ended, the fight for liberation and equality still carries on. In this paper,
I will address the fight of the African Americans for equality.

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


Oppression and Discrimination in the Past
Since the colonial era, ethnic discrimination and racism have been major issues. The
white Americans legally sanctioned civil rights and privileges for their prosperity at the expense
of other races. These sanctions advocated more structured institutions clouded with ethnicity and
racism, and they were segregation, slavery, Native American reservations to mention but a few
(Griffin, 1999). Before the civil war, the slave trade was the order of business in most of what is
America. Arguably, Griffin (1999) perceives slavery as the root of all conceptualizations of
African Americans and their route to a never-ending pitfall of discrimination and racism. It all
started when the first African slaves were brought in to offer labor for the lucrative tobacco
farming back in 1619 (Sitkoff, 2010). Slavery, oppression, and discrimination prevailed up until
the Civil War. Toward the buildup of the Civil War, the rise of the social conscience of the
minorities was inevitable. However, the Civil War that was bound to deliver deliberation to the
African Americans failed. Despite its end, and African Americans being deliberated, their social
status remained unchanged (Griffin, 1999). After the civil war, African Americans still
experienced both political and economic oppressions. However, all the struggles for liberation
and relief from oppression were illusory rather than in real life reports (Griffin, 1999). A decade
after the civil war, political oppression was the order of the day. The African Americans had
limited opportunities to partake in the political field. Moreover, the African Americans faced a
menace of extinction back in the nineteenth century. In 1867, a movement called the Ku-KluxKlan was founded with the sole purpose of racial terrorism as its ideology. The movement
targeted slaughtering of African Americans. In retrospect, Bobo & Fox (2003) mentions the
Louisiana massacres in 1873-4.

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


Aside from political discrimination, the African Americans suffered economic oppression
to a great length. Segregation of communities after the civil war was an example of the lack of
change of the status of their lives. African Americans were still subjected and perceived to be
more of properties and inferior that the white Americans. They were forced to reside in seclusion
way from the white Americans. Most of the employment opportunities allocated to the blacks
were characterized by low wages and work lengthy hours (Griffin, 1999). Since it was the
industrial revolution era, the African Americans worked in most of the factories. However, these
were times of a bad economy and white Americans shared some of the jobs (Griffin, 1999).
During employment, white Americans earned more than their counterparts African Americans
did. Bobo & Fox (2003) adds that most work was done in shifts to ensure little interaction
between the white Americans and the African Americans. Living quarters were separated based
on ethnicity, and such segregation transpired beyond living quarters. Griffin (1999) mentions that
there were public amenities for each race, the white Americans and the African Americans.
Marketplaces, bars (salons), banks, shops, to mention but a few were visited depending on ones
race.
Such segregation ensured that despite their attempts to liberate their race from oppression
and discrimination, the efforts of the African Americans were futile. As the economy grew, some
African Americans became well off in the society. They could afford to open bank accounts and
reside in areas that were exclusively for the white Americans. However, Griffin (1999) reports
that they were still discriminated upon. Living in the suburbs, excluded from the white
Americans was a nightmare for African Americans. Constantly negated, verbally abused,
threatened, to mention a few, were signs of a never-ending era or racism and discrimination.

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


Modern Discrimination
In the world today, many people are still stereotyped. Some of these stereotypes are from
being of different races African Americans, homosexuality, and sexism, to mention but a few. As
for the African Americans, they are stereotyped as being involved with drugs, being a poor
society that dwells in the projects. (Sitkoff, 2010) asserts that not all African Americans fit the
stereotyped profile. Similarly, he comments that other races have their shortcomings. Poverty
and dwelling in the projects can be one of them. Secondly, the association of African Americans
with drugs either dealing or abusing is seen in other races (Sitkoff, 2010). Attempts to fight any
form of stereotyping by the blacks is bound to continue. An example is attempts by Bill Cosby,
the famous host of the Cosby Show. Cosby had intended to end the stereotypical perception of
the African Americans by painting a different picture about the life of an average family.
However, after the show came to its conclusion in the eighth season, the show had had little
impact on its mission. African Americans were still portrayed as inferior, void off the credibility
and discriminated against.
Television is one reason for the thoughts people have on African Americans and all those
stereotypes. Since television conveys simulations of everyday situations and since it shares
similar characteristics of real life events , vicarious experience via television may become a part
of our social experience and serve as a basis for social judgements such as racial attitudes and
ethnic (Y.Fujioka, 1999). For example, News casts and documentaries, the image that the news
show about African Americans is negative, and because the majority of people watches news,
they get the negative aspect of African Americans. News casts and documentaries often convey
the images of urban poor Blacks who are involved in anti-social activities such as crime,
violence, and drugs (Y.Fujioka, 1999). Successful Blacks on primetime television are depicted as

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


unique and attractive individuals who accomplish their goals through hard work, talent,
discipline, and determination (Y.Fujioka, 1999). The successful images of African Americans are
increasingly visible in the entertainment context, but many assert that values and beliefs
expressed by African American characters are not their (African American) own, but rather the
mainstream (White) American values (Y.Fujioka, 1999).
Stereotypes? Sitkoff (2010) asserts that the threat perceived by the majority on the
minority and the possibility that they will bring deviance to a society is the root of all racism.
Sitkoff (2010) warns that racism kills without warning and quotes are an example in which
individuals have committed suicide from being racially abused or oppressed. The government
has come a long way to implementing laws that advocate equality and suppress racism to its
minimal. Any form of racial abuse could easily result in a lawsuit and even imprisonment. A
simple term as the word Nigga, when used to describe African Americans, is deemed as being
racists, especially from a white American. However, the society has coined ways to ensure
oppression of the African Americans persists. Hiding in numbers, a recent survey, international
footballers, Mario Balotelli, and Danny Welbeck, all English Premier League players were
ranked as the most racially abused sportsmen in football. Little can be done when people hide in
numbers, but the war against racism will take more than we anticipated to ending it.

Fight against the Oppression and Discrimination


Bobo & Fox (2003) starts by acknowledging the existence of racism and that its
prevalence will overcome time as long as there are hatred and ignorance. The amount of racism
in America cannot cast a shadow of doubt over the possible eradication of racism. The road to
end racism has been long and looked to be that way unless we act now. Bobo & Fox (2003)

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


thinks of debating racial issues as a starting point. Publically acknowledging racism is a menace
to society and that people should condone it is vital. Moreover, racism is hereditary and should
be treated as a disease (Bobo & Fox, 2003). We are all born with a clean and a racist free mind.
However, as we grow older depending on the ideologies implanted during our early life, we tend
to develop different perceptions about other people from different races. These indifferences are
crucial to the formation of a racist character as Bobo & Fox (2003) mentions. Another solution
proposed is that we advocate for character and not color when judging people. Implanting of
such a notion to every child is crucial to curbing racism. Moreover, people should acknowledge
that all races have it in them to be both bigotry and tolerant. By controlling the urge to jump to
conclusion, we should perceive all people as equal. However, in the event that we are better off
than others are, it should not be a basis to discriminate others in any way.
Bobo & Fox (2003) believe that slavery was the root of all discrimination and that it led
to oppression of the African Americans. However, long are the days when slavery was an issue
of concern. Still, there are nations that do not discriminate or at least do not have racial
discrimination (Bobo & Fox, 2003). Such nations, which do not consider racism as a menace
cause occurrence of racism, are next to none is dependent on culture. We live in the world in
which we interact with people on a global scale. Children pick on what they see, hear and or
learn in school. Media, social media and any multimedia content that we are exposed to
contribute a lot to the type of environment that we nurture families and ourselves. By changing
our cultural perception an early age, we are destined to end the war against racism. However,
Bobo & Fox (2003) advises that the road towards total liberation and a racist free world be far
from over.

OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


Conclusion
The fight for liberation, civil rights, and equality has been long. Most of the people alive
today only read about the struggles put up in pursuit for freedom by the African Americans from
enslavement. The word slavery does not cover the all that the African Americans went through.
The whites took advantage of the minorities to the fullest. The African Americans were enslaved,
deemed as property, and as if that was not enough, they were treated badly. People, the white
Americans, would buy or bid for African Americans. The white Americans went a step further to
pass laws that would ensure the African Americans had zero chance of reacting to the manner in
which they were treated. However, that was not the case. The oppression, lack of appreciation,
and the struggles the African Americans endured pushed them to a point in which they could bear
no more. Little by little, they began to retaliate by protesting against the manner in which they
were treated. As a mass movement and protests prevailed, soon most of the African Americans
began a wide national movement to fight for their civil rights and equality. Dubbed the civil war,
most of the African Americans lost their lives in the fight for liberation. Progressively, as the war
ended, most of the laws that were in place to ensure oppression and discrimination against the
African Americans prevailed have been changed. There was a glimpse of, or so they say, the
African Americans thought. Even after the civil war, the struggle through time to fight for
equality and a discrimination-free world, we still live in a generation that value some people over
others. Racial discrimination is still present, as Sitkoff (2010) claims, and the war is far from
over.

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OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS


References
Bobo, L., & Fox, C. (2003). Race, Racism, and Discrimination: Bridging Problems, Methods,
and Theory in Social Psychological Research. Social Psychology Quarterly, 66(4), 319332. Retrieved from
http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/bobo/files/2003_race_racism_and_discrimination_with_c
ybelle_fox_social_psycholgy_quarterly.pdf
Griffin, P. R. (1999). Seeds of racism in the soul of America. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press.
McGuire, D. L., & Dittmer, J. (2011). Freedom rights: New perspectives on the civil rights
movement. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Sitkoff, H. (2010). Toward freedom land: The long struggle for racial equality in America.
Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
Fujioka, Y. (1999). Television portrayals and African-American stereotypes: Examination of
television effects when direct contact is lacking.
Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.