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Racism in the United States

How A Conflict Theorist And A Symbolic Interactionist Might Approach The Problem Of Racism In The United States? “Some Americans behave as if racial differences construct intrinsic superiority in European Americans (whites). ” (Charles V. Hamilton, 2001)Most of these beliefs stem from past acts and practices of racism and favoritism. Much of the notice bought to this racism is focused only on aspects of personage racism, or acts committed by one person or one group; though the real difficulty lies with aspects of institutional racism.

Racism in the United States of America was build and continues to be maintained by the institutions, systems and practices of the mainly white culture. What Would They Study And How Would They Do It? Institutional racism did not begin in America. In fact it has existed since humans first began living in organized communities. For example, Ancient Romans discriminated against all those born outside of Rome. They considered them to be ‘alien’ or a ‘barbarian’ and not commendable of having the rights of each other Roman citizen.

Since America was founded, it has become ingrained in racist and biased systems and practices, all allowing the advantage of the white culture. After the first settlements in America were recognized, slaves were bought from Africa and the Caribbean to be used as reasonably priced laborers on farms and plantations. Having slaves allowed plantation owners to amass great wealth with little effort. The slaves had no rights, even to their own body and were constantly victims of violence, rape and discrimination.

White settlers justified their action of the slaves by claiming they were civilizing them and that by forcing them to give up their civilization and change to Christianity, they were saving their souls. Slavery became an extensively accepted practice and an enormous industry was built on the offer of slaves to America. Laws including ‘An act for the better ordering and governing of Negro’s and slaves 1712,’ (Chung, R. C. , Bemak, 2000, 150-161) were passed giving white men total possession of their slaves.

The law secret them as ‘chattel’, meaning “an article of changeable individual property” (Gold, S. J. , 2003, pp. 300-315). The difference in skin colour and physical structure of the Negro slaves was also used to justify their continued slavery and the consequent racist behavior displayed towards them. A Virginian plantation and slave proprietor, named Thomas Jefferson, who was measured to be one of the mainly learned men of his time, in his book ‘Notes on Virginia’ called for an examination of why blacks were substandard to whites.

Some of his conclusions incorporated, “They secrete less by the kidneys and more by the glands of the skin giving them a physically powerful and unpleasant odor,” and “I advance it, therefore as a doubt only, that the blacks, whether at first a distinct race, or made distinct by time and situation, are lesser to the whites in the endowments equally is body and mind. ” (Mollica, R. F. , 2002, 1567-1571).


Charles V. Hamilton, Lynn Huntley, Wilmot James, Beyond Racism: Race and Inequality in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States. Publisher: Lynne Rienner. Place of Publication: Boulder, CO.Publication Year: 2001. Chung, R. C. , Bemak, F. , & Wong, S. (2000). Vietnamese refugees’ levels of distress, social support and acculturation: Implications for mental health counseling. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 22, 150-161. Gold, S. J. (2003). Migration and family adjustment: Continuity and change among Vietnamese in the United States. In H. P. MacAdoo (Ed. ), Family ethnicity (pp. 300-315). Newbury Park: Sage. Mollica, R. F. , Wyshak, G. , & Lavelle, J. (2002). The psychosocial impact of war trauma and torture on Vietnamese refugees. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 1567-1571.

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