There are many ethnic communities within the United States. Most of these ethnic communities have migrated into the United States over the years. Many indigenous ethnic groups or Native Americans like the red Indians have been marginalized extensively especially due to foreign occupation of the land over the last two decades. On this essay I will analyze a migrant ethnic group whose migration into the United States is profoundly different from all the others.
African Americans are an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestral homes are mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. African Americans just like many other ethnic groups in the United States migrated into the United States for over the last decade. Unlike other immigrants African Americans in the United States did not migrate into the United States out of their own volition.
The earliest African American immigrants in the United States were actually slaves who were shipped into the United States in order for them to work in white plantation farms. Most of these were usually captured forcefully and then sold to slave merchants along the east African and west African coast and then traded to slave ships and brought across the Atlantic ocean in what was famously referred to as the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Although a majority of African Americans have an African ancestry there are around 17% of African Americans who have a European ancestry and there is still a significant group that have an Indian or Native American ancestry.
On matters of prejudice, segregation, and racism:
African Americans have faced many ills during their long stay in the United States. African Americans have faced hostility from other ethnic groups ever since the days of slavery up to date. Although in recent days the hostility is not widely spread it is still evident and ripe deep inside the American society. Due to this prejudice African Americans were denied their liberty, the chance to pursue their own happiness and even denied life in the following ways. Firstly African slaves were not recognized as humans but as property of the slave owners.
In addition slaves were denied the right of freedom of worship and association. African slaves once shipped into the United States, they were separated from their wife’s and children. Furthermore, slaves who were extremely emaciated on arrival in the ‘land of opportunities’, were usually left to die due to the fact that they had no economic value to the slave lords. In this respect African Americans have faced all kinds of prejudice which are cognitive prejudice, co native prejudice and affective prejudice. In this respect African Americans have been discriminated against in the electoral process, educational sector, public transportation, legal system as well as many other fields.
African Americans have found themselves segregated against when it comes to the family unit where for a long time many other ethnic communities in the United States sometimes considered inter-marriages to African Americans a crime and sometimes they would even kill their kinsmen if they were found out to be involved with African Americans. Besides this African Americans have faced vigilante violence especially in the form of lynching during the Jim Crow era. The Jim Crow era is a period of time when the Jim Crow laws were in existence.
These laws constitutionally allowed for racial segregation against blacks. They were in existence until 1964 when they were abolished, after the passing of the civil rights act of 1964, especially due to black movements mainly led by martin Luther king.
There are many reasons why African Americans have been discriminated against, but the main reason why they have been discriminated against is due to the color of their skin. The black skin of African Americans is considered by many to be inferior to other skin colors and thus they do not see the reason why a black person should be more prosperous than they. Apart from this there are other people who hold the cognitive prejudice that Africans and in extension African Americans were not created but actually evolved. This belief makes them view African Americans as resembling apes and thus they belief these people should be living in zoos.
On the issue of institutional discrimination:
Institutional racism or discrimination is not foreign to American culture. African Americans have been on the receiving end and they have been highly affected by it. On this perspective many African Americans have faced many occupational and educational disadvantages due to ingrained stereotypical views that are still deeply rooted in the American society like blacks are inherently criminals. This has denied many African Americans many privileges enjoyed by other races like a good education, the best occupations as well as a just legal structure.
Everyone has a right to belong to a certain culture. Although I would like to associate more with the African American culture, I will have to recognize the fact that the American society is multiracial and thus I have to equally relate not only to the African American culture but I also have to identify with the general American culture.
Acts of racism, discrimination, and segregation are not unique to the American culture. The system of apartheid or racial segregation was legally in existence in South Africa until 1994. In many other countries people of other nationalities or ethnic backgrounds are always discriminated against.
All what needs to be done is for people all over the world to be made to understand that whether a person is a red Indian, a black American, a Punjabi or whatever, people need to realize that a beneath the skin we all have the same color of blood, the same body organs and that above all we all have one heart, one soul and one chance to live in this lifetime.
John Hope Franklin, Alfred Moss (2001), From Slavery to Freedom. A History of African Americans, McGraw-Hill publishers.
Patricia J. F (1983), Ethnic and Immigration Groups: The United States, Canada, and England, Institute for Research in History (New York), Haworth Press.
Shapiro Thomas M (2004), The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality, prentice-hall.