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Slavery, Racial Prejudice, and Discrimination in the United States - Research Paper Example

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Slavery, Racial Prejudice, and Discrimination in the United States

Indeed, the vicious cycle of racial prejudices and slavery is evident in the subtle practice by them. When America or the new world was discovered by Christopher Columbus in early 16th century, native American tribes were the main inhabitants and there was no concept of slavery or slaves. The slave trading was actually started by the Portuguese in 1572 when they had gone to west Coast of Africa and captured tribal Africans who were later traded as slaves in the European market (Liu, nd). The African tribes were not only skilled farmers but were also known for their beautiful art work on metal and wood. Europeans exploited them by making them slaves and using their skilled labor for free. When America was discovered and colonists were short of farm labors, slaves from Africa were brought to work on the field for free. Thus, tradition of slavery was started. Through the centuries of enjoying free labor of slaves, the Whites have become so used to treating the blacks as second class citizens that black population continues to be deprived of their rights to live in dignity vis-a-vis good living condition, food and education. Slavery was made into a full fledged tradition with Africans and non whites becoming slaves for life. When native population started to rebel, control over blacks became the major concern for Whites. But the conflicting interests escalated into 7 years war which finally culminated into American Revolution. American Revolution became the foundation for the abolition of slavery (Mantsios, 1995). With the emergence of Free democratic America, an era of empowerment of people and democracy became synonym for new political system of nations across the world. ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ of slaves by Lincoln became the major catalyst for changes that significantly influenced the future course of American history (Lincoln, nd). While the ground realities for blacks remained bleak for long, in late twentieth century, Martin Luther King Jr., garnered huge public support that paved way for The Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Afro Americans, Native Americans and other non white population was finally able to gain equal rights constitutionally and work alongside whites. But the long tradition of slavery within the American society had made it difficult to implement the same across the society. The racial prejudices are rampant and discrimination is still practiced subtly by white population. Most importantly, the blacks and ethnic minorities still have to fight for their rights and struggle to avail privileges that are enjoyed by the mainstream society. Education is still not accessible to most of the black and ethnic minorities. It is especially important because it can empower them and help reduce the socio-economic divide that exists between the White and Black population. Some scholars assert that political mobilization of ethnic population is important for promoting equality and creating appropriate environment of equal opportunities for all (Ramakrishnan and Espenshade, 2001). Civil Rights Act has been critical in promoting equality. The law made it a legal offence for employers to ‘fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges or employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin’ ...Show more
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Summary

The case study, ‘There is No Such Thing as Rest’ is an autobiographical account of the twelve years of his life which the author, a free black, had undergone when he was kidnapped from New York. The grueling labor and harsh life of a slave as described by Northrup is heartrending in its details…
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