Racism is such a politically hot, divisive issue in the United States that it is necessary to deal with that topic in this website, Politics by Jerry.
The first important thing to do is to define our terms – what is Racism, and what is it not?
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
I know you just read it, but let me say it again for this study: Racism is the belief that some human racial groups are inherently inferior, meaning that others are superior in comparison. A policy may be developed based on this belief. People who believe they are in the superior race discriminate against those in an inferior race.
Racism is a belief that some races are inferior and not to be tolerated on a equal level.
the belief that some races of people are better than others
poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race
We see, therefore, that anybody can be racist. In fact, racism is found in all groups of people: Western, Asian and African. People in each group tend to believe that they themselves are the superior ones over the other race.
Not only is Racism a belief that one's own race is superior, but it is also the acting out of intolerance to the other race.
What Racism is NOT
If you're a white man, this [racist] is what you are. It doesn't even matter if your wife is black and you have an adopted child from India, or how many black friends you have...
In spite of that colloquel definition, which is a racist statement in itself, the fact is, a racist is not a person of a certain race. It is a person who loaths another particular race and acts on his feelings.
From the earliest extra-biblical recorded history, people had slaves. This goes back for over 6,000 years. I don't know of any nation that did not hold slavery sometime during this period. Great Britain abolished slavery peacefully in 1821. The United States abolished slavery with a war in 1863, 42 years later. The United States was one of the few nations that still practiced slavery at that time; nevertheless, too many nations did.
Slavery still exists today (as of 2014). India has 14 million slaves; China has 2.9 million slaves; Pakistan has 2.1 million; Nigeria has 701,000; Ethiopia has 651,000; Russia has 516,000; Thailand has 473,000; Congo has 462,000; Myanmar has 384,000; and Bangladesh has 343,000. Mauritania was the last nation to officially abolish slavery, doing so in 2007; yet 4.3% of the population still remains enslaved1.
One should not confuse slavery with black slavery. Before black slavery, Europeans enslaved North African Muslims. Later, having learned their lesson well and returning the favor, North African Muslims enslaved Europeans. The definition of racism is not slavery, and people are not enslaved because of racism. Racism is the opinion that one race is inferior to another race. The person holding that opinion, called a racist, usually includes himself in the "superior" race.
Slavery Beginnings in the United States
Constitution of the United States of America,
slaves count as three-fifths of a person. Ratified June 21, 1788
Article 1 Section 2, paragraph 3, "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."
Thus, by the American Constitution, non-free "persons" (that is, slaves) were counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of representation in Congress. This section was changed by Amendment 17, in 1868 – eighty years later – when everybody was counted as a whole person, since everybody was free.
This deserves two very important comments:
Not all black people in the United States were slaves. Almost all slaves were black people, but not all black people were slaves. Free black people were counted as a full person, just as any other person. The constitution makes a statement about slaves, not a racist statement about black people.
The three-fifths law is very important and was inserted by anti-slavery people. It is in the section of the constitution that deals with Representatives. The number of American Representatives
are assigned each decade depending on the population count. Slaves were not allowed to vote, nor were they allowed to hold office, yet they were counted for representation in Congress. That means, a large number of slave-holding and slave-supporting politicians would fill the House of Representatives to the point where slavery might never be abolished in the United States. The three-fifths law was designed to keep pro-slavery politicians in the Southern States from having too much power and a voting bloc too large to overcome.
In 1800, the United States population was 5,305,925. The number of slaves was 893,0412. In 1810, the number of slaves had risen to 1,191,3643, an increase of 25%, or 297,439 new slaves.
2The History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, W.O. Blake, Easton Press, 2013, page 430 3ibid. page 447
A History of Racism in the United States
There were two great world crimes in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries: Slavery and the Slave Trade. Native Africans would attack neighboring villages, kidnap the people – men, women and children – march them to the African coast and hold them hostage until slave ships from Europe arrived. The native Africans would then sell their hostages to the slavers. The ships would take them to Europe and the West Indies, and the slavers would sell their slaves to auctioneers, who in turn resold them to people with enough money to buy the slaves.
It's a small step from buying a black person to believing black people are inherently inferior. Slavery is such a monumental crime that few can deny it. Therefore, the slave owners in the United States – mostly white people, but some black people too – either had a seared conscience whereby they didn't care if they committed a crime worthy of death, or else they convinced themselves the black race was inferior and deserved to be slaves. They treated slaves like farm animals – no, worse than farm animals. They frequently took better care of their farm animals than they did of their slaves.
The majority of people in the United States believed slavery was wrong, believed that the black race was in no way inferior to the white race, and launched multiple campaigns to end slavery. However, there were enough people in Congress to keep anti-slavery laws from being passed – in spite of the three-fifths law.
In 1840, there were 26 states in the Union. Thirteen were slave states and thirteen free. The free states in the North had a greater population, and generally wanted slavery abolished. The slave states in the South wanted to keep slavery.
Each state is allowed two senators in Congress. Therefore, although most of the population lived in the North, the South had as many senators as the north, and some Northern Senators were sympathetic to the South and pro-slavery. The House of Representatives population is dependent on the population census. Although fewer people lived in the South, they held almost 2.5 million slaves4. Each slave counted as three-fifths of a person; therefore, 2.5 million slaves who could not vote nor run for office had pro-slavery Representatives in Congress, voting to keep slaves. This Southern voting bloc was strong enough to stop legislative efforts to end slavery.
Relief came in 1860, when the Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president. That infuriated the South because of the new Republican Party's stand on trade and import/export taxes. The South therefore made good on their threat to secede from the Union. Four slave states did not secede: Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri. (Missouri was not a Southern state.)
During the Civil War (or the South's War for Independence), France and England were about to ship supplies and other support to the South, but each of those nations had laws against slavery. Therefore, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 (which was illegal, unconstitutional and futile) in which he freed the slaves. Because that act made the Civil War a war about slavery, both France and England withheld their support from the South.
The South lost the war and surrendered on April 14, 1865. The slaves were freed, but black racism was just beginning.
One Political Party Dominates Racist Politics in America6
6This website is supposed to be "A Non-partisan Approach to Understanding Politics." But when one political party is so clearly identifies with a specific issue – racism in this case – it becomes impossible to separate the party from the issue. Politics by Jerry strives to be accurate, not partisan.
Regional Political Parties
The United States constitution makes this country a democratic republic.
One of America's founding fathers and third president, Thomas Jefferson (a slave holder until his death), founded the Democratic-Republican Party. It was called "Republican" at that time, and Jefferson ran for president as a Republican. In 1824 the Democratic-Republican Party split into two parties: the Democrat Party and the National-Republican Party. The National-Republican Party soon died out and the surviving Democratic Party is known today as the Democratic Party. Thus, Thomas Jefferson founded today's Democratic Party, but at the first it was called Republican and it contained both names.
The National-Republican Party, which soon died out, gave way to the Whig Party, which was also short-lived, 1830s-1850s.
What is known as today's Republican Party was founded in 1854 and won the 1860 presidential election with Abraham Lincoln.
The Democratic Party was chiefly a party of the Southern States. The Republican Party (emerging from the Whig Party) was chiefly a party of the Northern States. The Solid South voted as a Democratic bloc from 1877 (after Reconstruction) to 1964 (after the Civil Rights Act)
Because of the slavery issue, regional differences and the Civil War, the Republican-oriented North and the Democratic South frequently expressed their opinions of the other with loathing and deep hatred.
This over-simplified chart helps keep a person focused on the regional differences of the United States between 1850 and 1964: North = Republican South = Democratic
Civil War Politics
The Democratic Party fought in the American Civil War to preserve its way of life and to keep black slavery.
The Republican Party fought in the American Civil War to preserve the Union and to free the black slaves.
President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party freed the slaves and granted all people equal status in the United States regardless of race. Constitutional Amendments 13 to abolish slavery was pased in December, 1865, by the Republicans when the South effectively had no vote nor capability to express its views.
But that didn't end personal discrimination. Maybe black people were free by law, but they could still be discriminated against and subjugated in other ways.
Ku Klux Klan
The original Ku Klux Klan was intended to protect the South after the war from Northern con-men who came to profit on a devastated country and disoriented newly-freed black people. They were called carpetbaggers because they quickly packed all their goods into bags made out of used carpets when they headed south.
The KKK was founded December 24, 1865, eight months after the Civil War ended and eightteen days after Amendment 13 passed freeing the slaves, by a group of Confederate veterans in Pulaski,¬†Tennessee. Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the KKK's first grand wizard. He tried to formally disband it four years later. Over the years, the KKK was re-formed again and again by different men, every time it was founded as a racist organization to attack black people and Jews.
As aggressors do, every time the KKK formed, they called themselves a defensive, godly organization protecting themselves and us from evil, black or Jewish, godless people. Adolph Hitler was protecting Germany from the Jews. Aggressors never put them blame on themselves; it is always the victim they blame.
The KKK was a Southern organization and therefore distinctly comprised of Democrats who were still angry at the North and at their lost life-style – which included slavery.
There is one notable time when the KKK made its way North and into the Republican party. The Indiana Republican Party is a branch of the United States Republican Party. KKK Grand Dragon D.C. Stevenson for one year dominated the Indiana Klan, the Republican Party and the Indiana government, 1924-1925. Stevenson was arrested for murder and other crimes in 1925. He was put in prison and every Republican Klansman lost his elected office that year.7
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM7Fq4AFyIM (The Ku Klux Klan - a Secret History presented by the History Channel)
The Ku Klux Klan, from its original founding in 1865 until its most recent appearance, has always been an institution organized by, run by and populated by Democrats. That is not to say the Democratic Party had anything to do with it. Rather, the KKK entire membership was almost always totally Democrats.
Jim Crow Laws8
8Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws
"The Jim Crow laws were racial segregation state and local laws [not federal] enacted after the Reconstruction period in Southern United States that continued in force until 1965 mandating de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern U.S. states (of the former Confederacy), starting in 1890 with a "separate but equal" status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that were inferior to those provided for white Americans. It institutionalized a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. De jure segregation mainly applied to the Southern United States, while Northern segregation was generally de facto – patterns of segregation in housing enforced by covenants, bank lending practices and job discrimination, including discriminatory union practices for decades.
"Jim Crow laws mandated the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated, as were federal workplaces, initiated in 1913 under [Democratic] President Woodrow Wilson, the first Southern president since 1856. His administration practiced overt racial discrimination in hiring, requiring candidates to submit photos.
"...State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965."
Jim Crow Laws Summary:
Jim Crow Laws were laws enacted in the Democratic Solid South to separate black people from white people. Unlike the Ku Klux Klan, which was run by individuals, the Jim Crow Laws were state government laws created by the Democratic Party. No such laws were made in the Republican North, although a few companies in the North did discriminate against black people. These laws and discrimination practices ended with the Federally-passed Civil Rights Act in 1964.
Civil Rights Movement
In my opinion, the 1954-1968 Civil Rights Movement was a nation-defining, culture-building event. No more would the United States government simply be responsible for war, roads and trade. Now they would guarantee each citizen full and equal rights in their own land and in defense against their own neighbor. That is, the government would not allow one person or group to discriminate against another person or group when it came to the free and open use of facilities available to the general public.
What had been happening under the Jim Crow laws was deplorable. If a white person owned a restaurant, he might not allow black people to enter, or to eat in the prominate dining area. A large department store might provide separate (but not equal!) restroom facilities and even drinking fountains. Country Clubs – where the rich hobnob – might bar Jews and blacks. White people were educated in one school and black people in another. Companies might employ only white people. Companies that employed both white and black people might promote only white people to management positions. Banks might give mortgages only to white people. The Civil Rights Movement changed all that.
This institutionalized racism was created by Jim Crow Laws in the Democratic Southern state governments but it also made significant inroads into private companies in the Republican North.
Citizen Leaders, like Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Malcom X, and many others lead a movement that cumulated in the abolishment of the Jim Crow laws. Busses filled with white Republican people from the North and black people from the South would go from city to city in the South. These people would fill the whites-only sections of restaurants and terminal waiting rooms. Lawsuits were brought and made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Protest demonstrations and speeches were made and segregated businesses were disrupted until something had to be done to end the fight.
The Civil Rights Movement was violent. The leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were assassinated. Many black and white people were murdered during their protest movements with bombs, guns and lynching. Those who fought for civil rights and the overturn of unjust laws were not violent, but the white Democratic people who brought about those laws resorted to beatings and murder. The white people involved in supporting Jim Crow Laws were not just white; they were Democratic white people.
The 1954 Supreme Court "Brown v. Board of Education" ruling ended school segregation. Nevertheless, Southern white people and Democratic politicians banded together to stop that from happening. When black children tried to enter a whites-only school, their lives were in danger. The federal government sent the militia to insure their safety. The Little Rock Arkansas school were forcefully integrated by the Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower in 1954. In 1963 The Alabama state Democratic governor George Wallace stood in the front door at Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama blocking the entrance of two black students. However, Democratic President John Kennedy ordered him to stand aside (or else!).
The Civil Rights Movement, designed to end the Jim Crow Laws and practices, were brought about by white Republicans and blacks – but mostly blacks. Finally federal laws were drafted to end the Jim Crow laws. Democratic President Lyndon Johnson sided with the Republicans and against his own party when he supported and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, thereby ending the Jim Crow Laws.
Although it was the Democratic party members that fought for slavery, Jim Crow laws, racial discrimination, and against the Civil Rights Movement, we should remember it was both the offical Democratic and Republican parties that ended the state and local policy of discrimination.
Republican President Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to integrate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1954.
Democratic President John Kennedy told Democratic governor George Wallace to stand aside, allowing black students to enroll in the University of Alabama.
Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, going against his own party, sided with the Republicans and signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Of all the racism in the United States, we should remember racism is essentially an individual act. Racists are people, and government is run by people. Sometimes you're going to find racist government policies. But when American Citizens begin campaigning against racist policies, both Democrats and Republicans take steps to end them.
The lesson is that some people in the United States are racist, but the United States is not a racist nation.