Soc 240

Soc 240

As a matter of fact, the United States of America is the world’s magnet; it is definitely a land of opportunity. According to the senator from New York who was present at Philadelphia City Hall during Senator Barack Obama and aired a gospel truth: “Issues of race and gender have been complicated through our history and have been complicated this time”. Racism in the United States has become a considerable problem since the colonial epoch. The issue is deeply rooted in the history and was reflected in such events as slavery, Indian reservations, segregation, internment camps. Racial stratification was evident in housing, education and politics, employment and other spheres of life. Mass racial violence burst out a number of times in history, sometimes called “race riots”. To name the most important ones, one may enumerate assaults on black people in the period of Reconstruction, conflicts of ethnic groups in the northeast and Midwest of the United States in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, disturbances in African-American communities after Martin Luther King’s assassination. It is clear that in colonial era, thousands of African slaves served the white colonists. Though there were revolts, one of the most remarkable was Nathaniel Bacon’s rebellion against the system of exploitation of poor colonists by well-to-do land-owners. But it was suppressed and black slavery was a norm in the Northeast until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when these states abolished slavery. An audacious step to mount “a ladder of opportunity” (Obama) for the blacks was the Emancipation Proclamation declared by President Lincoln in January of the year 1863.
However, after this step forward America did not set absolutely free from racism and lynching, discrimination acts continued. For instance, the decade from 1865 to 1965 was marked by a number of lynchings, according to the survey conducted, between the years 1882 and 1951 eighty-eight per cent of murder victims were black and only ten per cent were white. The blacks who violated Jim Crow laws, which mandated so called separate but “equal” opportunities for all, blacks were to use separate public schools, shops, transportation and other facilities, were also lynched. Other common reasons of unjust and cruel attitude were race prejudice, race hatred, violation of the color line, etc. For a long time in American history civil rights and equality for all regardless of skin color were only theoretically a success, but actually Executive Orders promulgated by Presidents Franklin, Roosevelt and Truman were only the beginning of a struggle for justice and abolition of any kind of segregation, which was a product of joint acts of the whites to isolate blacks from their neighborhoods. The practice of “redlining” is no longer legal but some researchers claim that this problem has undercurrents and redlining is still subtly going on in some regions.
Senator Barack Obama’s speech in the City Hall in Philadelphia one more time awoke the complexity of the race problem. Though his speech has drawn a wide response, it touched upon serious social aspects in American history, it was rather politically loaded as it is aimed at confronting former minister’s statements. A number of statements Obama uttered during his speech on race can be hardly opposed as he appealed to historical data, obvious and scientifically proved events. The quintessence of his speech, in my opinion, lies in the following words: “…race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality…” (Obama). This issue has a great past and Barack Obama cited Faulkner: “The past is not dead and buried. In fact, it is not even the past” (Faulkner). Obama accentuates weak points of contemporary society, revealing its plague anew and demands justice, saying that though it is less overt something should be done to improve the situation at present: “Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations”(Obama). He considers that although the backs are technically able to vote, a number of laws against discrimination were passed, but still the issue of racial stratification exists as there are still incidents of discrimination, notwithstanding they are less overt people have no right to neglect them as they are of primary importance.
A well-known commentator Pat Buchman ironically criticizes the speech under consideration and asks several questions, concerning white America’s fault in the current situation, which remain definitely unanswered in his response to the senator’s speech. He claims: “First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known… Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the sixties on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements…” (Buchman). He also states that a number of programmes supporting African-Americans were implemented, churches and foundations for the blacks are supported and financially donated. He talks about new “ladders of opportunity” (Buchman) for African-Americans, though actually he hardly tells something new, though concentrates on a social problem to which no one remains indifferent. He also justifies his statements with statistical data: “the African-American community has hit seventy per cent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached fifty per cent” (Buchman). But the issue is far deeper as one should consider the motives of the obvious data introduced, it is reasonable to try to get at the roots of it rather than to animadvert. The matter is that according to Douglas S. Massey’s Segregation and Stratification the important mechanism of racial stratification operates through segregation’s role in promoting spreading concentration of poverty. Residential segregation, though it is overt and is constantly declining, may shatter social and economic welfare of the African-Americans (Massey). Hence, UNESCO introduced its Declaration on the Principle of Tolerance in the year 1995 which operates in concord with Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, according to the census conducted in 2004: “the degree of in-group preference expressed by Whites was about twice that of Blacks whereas the willingness of African American to tolerate out-group neighbors was 2.6 times than of Whites” (Massey).
According to the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, “all individuals and groups have the right to be different” (Article 1.2). And though there is a public opinion that more money invested into the black community functioning will not solve the problem of this “ugliest manifestation and interracial crime”, called racism (Buchman), still in the modern world tolerance is more burning that ever before. In this age marked by globalization, harmony is most likely in diversity. Some researchers following the developing situation suppose that racist attitudes and bias are still held by moderate portions in the USA, so with the help of education for tolerance and various non-violence programmes promotion, responsibility sharing and general involvement we will move towards better future of subsequent generations.
No matter what words we choose to describe the injustice and violence, taking place in society, it will not diminish. The thing to favour it is to work jointly and taking the concerted actions looking right into the future.


Works Cited
Buchman, Pat. Buchanan on Obama's race speech: "We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?" Media Matters for America. 15 May 2008 <http://mediamatters.org/items/200803220001>
Massey, Douglas S. Segregation and Stratification. A biosocial perspective. Office of Population Research. Du Bois Review, 2004.
Obama, Barack. Remarks of Senator Barack Obama. A More Perfect Union. 14 May 2008. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/18/obama-race-speech-read-t_n_92077.html>