Slavery in America stems well back to when the New World was first discovered and was led by the country to start the African Slave Trade- Portugal. The African Slave Trade was first exploited for use on plantations in what is now called the Caribbean, and eventually reached the southern coasts of America. The African natives were of all ages and sexes. Women usually worked in the homes, cooking and cleaning, whereas men were sent out into the plantations to farm. Young girls would usually help in the house also and young boys would help in the farm by bailing hay and loading wagons with crops. Since trying to capture the native Indians, the Arawaks and Caribs, failed (Small Pox had killed them instead), the Europeans said out to capture African slaves.
During what was called, “The Triangular Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” the Europeans shipped the slaves from Africa. This was an organized route where Europeans would travel to Africa bringing manufactured goods, capture Africans and take them to the Caribbean, and then take the crops and goods and bring them back to Europe. The African people, in order to communicate invented a language that was a mixture of all the African languages combined, called Creole. This language now varies from island to island. They also kept their culture, which accounts for calypso music and the instruments used in these songs.
Slavery was common all over the world until 1794 when France signed the Act of the National Convention abolishing slavery. It would take America about a hundred years to do the same. George Washington was America’s hero. He was America’s first president. He was a slave owner. He deplored slavery but did not release his slaves. His will stated that they would be released after the death of his wife (The Volume Library, 1988). Washington wasn’t the only president to have slaves. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men are created equal” but died leaving his blacks in slavery.
In 1775 black Americans were sent to fight in the revolutionary army. The British proposed that if a black man were to join their army, they would be set free afterwards. America originally planned not to let the blacks fight in the army, but when hearing this, let them enlist. Only Georgia and South Carolina refused to let them enlist, but paid for their racism when each lost 25,000 blacks to the British. The slaves returned on a honorable discharge after securing America’s freedom, but were not able to return to their own freedom (Software Toolworks Encyclopedia; 1992).
Slavery continued and so did the numbers of slaves trying to escape to the free states or into Canada. A runaway slave would be found by bloodhounds, which were trained, at the time, to find black slaves. Then, the slave, upon returning, would be executed or severely whipped.
The “Underground Railroad” was a project that helped black slaves escape into Canada, especially Amherstburg. The system involved 3,000 white helpers and freed an estimated 75,000 people after the civil war. Slavery in the middle of the 1800’s was abolished except for the rebellion states in the south. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued which made
slavery illegal in the states that had rebelled and allowed black slaves to serve in the army and get other jobs, or continue to work on the plantations, as employees making money.
The nightmare of slavery was over but a new one was to begin. One that was worse for it was prevalent but was secret and silent. One that still exists today. One that does not shrink but rather grows and prospers in a place that claims to be totally against the mistreatment of minorities. Racism was then and still is upon us in every major part of our day-to-day ideology.
Martin Luther King once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Ku Klux Klan. Neo Nazis. The Aryan Nations. The American Nazi Party. What are these groups? Why are they present in a land of supposed equality of all men? They are there because there are millions of Americans that believe in their message of white pride.
The African American population is growing and Americans are now a mixed group of people. Black people are white people’s neighbors, doctors, and friends. With a growing unity between the two races, why does racism continue? The answer is simple. Racists from many years ago raise their kids in clans and white supremacy groups and teach them the ways of hatred. These kids grow up “brain-washed” that black people are their enemies and, taught by example, will continue this trend (The Volume Library; 1988).
The Ku Klux Klan has been around since the end of the Civil War. It is a roller coaster of history as they have gone from extreme power, to rapid decline, and slow reemergence in major areas of the United States (Software Toolworks Encyclopedia; 1992). The Klan, which is notorious for its violence, has a relatively innocent beginning. It was formed from some veterans from the confederate army and was first called the Kuklos Clan which, in Greek, meant Circle
Clan. One person thought it would be a good idea to call it the “Ku Klux Klan” as a parody of the fraternity names which always had three Greek alphabet letters in it. They created the Clan to be mischievous and to do it without anyone knowing who they were which accounts for their costumes and masks. They, like most whites, were upset that the black people were free because black people were a constant reminder of the bitter defeat of the South. So, to have fun they terrorized black people. Eventually the group grew, fluctuating, but grew to become the first white supremacy group in America and with that growth, their hatred grew as well into what was seen in the early and middle 1900’s and what is seen today. Along with the KKK, other anti-black, pro-white groups formed and stemmed out all over the U.S.A. The Neo Nazis who are more commonly know by the term “Skin Heads”, are a growing force in hate groups. Their hatred of Hispanics, Jews, Blacks and others is now the fastest growing force in America. The Skin Head movement is usually done by the younger kids. These kids are drawn to the Aryan Nations and Neo Nazis by the promise of free drugs, free booze, heavy metal music, ultimate freedom and rebellion. A lot of these kids stay because of family troubles at home and, like in a gang, feel like they have a family with the group and feel loved. “The skinheads are a family… A lot of us don’t have what you’d call a home” commented Joshua, who is a 16-year-old recruiter in California (United They Hate, Michael Kronenwetter).
The race war was in full force by the 1960’s. With the growth of white supremacy and their groups, black too had a weapon. Martin Luther King Jr. led his people to march in Washington to end segregation and to form black unity for an equal and better America. Malcolm X, who was a Muslim, may have come from a different religion than his Christian counterpart, but had a very similar message and a similar fate. Both were assassinated.
Today the hate groups of America have spread into Canada and are particularly common in Manitoba. The major sects are of the same name as their American cousins with a very similar message. Racism, despite much opposition, will never end. As long as there is fighting among a Jew and a Palestinian or hatred between a white and a black, Racism will be there. Only a utopian society can achieve such a dream. It is in human nature to have a few people that do not understand or possibly hate those who are different but, in fact, we are not different, we are judgmental and we are discriminatory, and we still segregate. If we see a black man walking down the street late at night, we are scared that he might try something criminal. If we hear of a vicious or notorious crime on TV, we automatically assume that a black man must have committed it. If we here a Jew is successful, we assume he must be cheap and a miser. If a Polish man has done something amazing in the field of science or some other major field, we assume he is rare because Polish people are notoriously stupid in the jokes we tell. We are unique individuals but among races we are equal and the same. Therefore, we should learn either not to fear the black man on the street or the successful Jew or to shun the smart Polack and rather see these people for who they really are. They are just colorful variations on what we all see when we look in the mirror each day.