Race As A Social Construct Essay

1325 words - 6 pages

The concept of race is an ancient construction through which a single society models all of mankind around the ideal man. This idealism evolved from prejudice and ignorance of another culture and the inability to view another human as equal. The establishment of race and racism can be seen from as early as the Middle Ages through the present. The social construction of racism and the feeling of superiority to people of other ethnicities, have been distinguishably present in European societies as well as America throughout the last several centuries.
The beginnings of racial difference can be traced back to the Age of Exploration, during which England was expanding its trading ...view middle of the document...

This initial framework for the divisions of mankind approached its peak during the Atlantic Slave trade from the 1600s to the late 1700s. At first, race was not the dominating factor in the enslavement of other people, but as the concepts of hierarchy became more prominent people were enslaved based on the European’s ideals of the superior man. Initially, Africans were not the only people taken and sold into slavery, for there were many other cultures that were enslaved, although more and more slaves were being captured and brought from Africa during the height of slavery. The British and people of the New England colonies both actively participated in the enslavement of African people during this time. The colonists needed cheap labor to work on their plantations and the British brought many of these slaves from Africa to America. Slaves were often cruelly mistreated and abused by their slave owners during this time, which emanates this ideal of hierarchal thinking of one man believing he is above another man.
Once slavery was abolished in the mid 1800s, the freed slaves were not treated that much differently than before. Many of the Africans were publically punished or even killed for crimes they did not commit. This oppression from the white people caused Africans to have a fear of them. It was often popular in the culture of those days to portray the black man as stupid of comical. Sometimes there were even pictures taken of a lynched black man and these pictures were placed onto postcards and sold .
There were not only displays of racism seen against African people. As the melting pot within America grew, other races came to the United States searching for freedom and a new beginning. Among these people were many of Asian decent, including the Chinese and Japanese. At first, there was little to no distinguishing of race or racism present as these newly immigrated Japanese families settled in. But once the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, a new feeling was present in the United States. Although the Japanese currently residing in America had nothing directly to do with the bombing, a sense of distrust and the idea that these Japanese were enemies living as spies within the country became a prevalent feeling for the white Americans who now shared the country with these foreigners. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese were placed into holding camps to be monitored and isolated from society. This internment took place during the Second World War and ended shortly after the war in in 1944. This example of racism towards the Japanese exemplifies the idea of white superiority and the sense of hierarchy and distrust of another ethnicity.
The Chinese were not much better off, as many of them came during the gold rush in the 1850s. At first, they integrated into the society without problems or negative feelings directed at them. Many Chinese moved to the California area and ranged in social class levels. For...

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