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The History of the Idea of Race and Why It Matters

The History of the Idea of Race and Why It Matters

Trevor Nwokoh Ms. LaToya Watson Critical Writing November 6, 2011 Summary of “History of The Idea of Race and Why it Matters” What social scientists, anthropologists, and others who have done research on the social predicament of race have failed to realize, is that there is no quantity of research that can define the reality of race in today’s society. Race is an aspect of everyday life in today’s society, which has no solutions. It has an impact that has been felt by all races.

According to Audrey Smedley: “When five white police man shot a young unarmed African immigrant 41 times in the doorway of his New York apartment, this can’t be explained by examining their genes or biology. Nor can we explain employer preferences for white jobs applicants or discrimination in housing or any other of the social realities of racism by references to human biological differences” (Smedley 1). With all this said it still does not mean that there is no research that can signify any means behind the aspects of race and how race interact.

This does not say that the racism that is encountered does not have an effect on the ethical and cultural groups. History plays a great role in the establishment of America. Before more research was accumulated it was thought that race was a result of science but, “With documents dating back to the 19th and 20th century ideas and belief about racist, were non-existent in the 17th century. It was found that a colony of Jamestown Virginia was developed in the 1600’s by Englishmen, who sought after treasure and wealth.

With the native people in the area, they forced the Indians into labor, which didn’t work smoothly with them, so they ended up either dying or relocating. Once they disappeared they found a new resource, tobacco, which required hard labor so that’s when the first Africans came into the picture” (Smedley 2). Also as said by Smedley, “False beliefs that slavery started in the 1600’s, was derailed by the fact that when Africans came to the America, they were thought to be a part of the colony, but just hard workers and often became as wealthy as those they worked for” (Smedley 3).

It was certain that the first slaves were not Africans. Rather under-classman Englishman who served as laborer, and once the Africans came they were all treated the same. It was only certain that there was a chance of multi-racial engagements that often formed relationships and families. But things did not go smooth for long. By the mid-century; those servants who were set free were not treated fairly when they wanted land.

That brought up the uprisings of the Nathanial Bacon Rebellion, were the servants pushed for social equality according to the wealthy whites standards for land. This rebellion was not as much a problem for the colonies, as the loss of slaves. The slaves were very importance, especially the Africans who were sought after. Their quality of work was keen to the survival and lively hood of the Englishmen, who knew they could not do it by their self. The profit was plentiful so when Georgia prohibited slavery, it hit the economy hard, because they needed the Africans.

Stated by the author “places like the Caribbean’s had Irish servants who were known to be very aggressive and uncontrollable and the Indians could not survive the new world diseases, making Africans the most reliable choice” (Smedley 6). Once the other sources of labor started to disappear more Africans were imported into slavery. As time went by the owners started to look at slavery as a necessity for their economic stability. In order to keep their slaves they pressed on to make slavery permanent. “With laws passing Negroes as they called the Africans were not allowed in certain activities such as voting” (Smedley 6).

Suddenly, race became a factor late 1600’s early 1700’s if they were not Christian, then they were considered a heathen. If you were not white or don’t oblige to the Englishmen criteria you were a heathen. Petitions were pasted to band other races from voting or even having interracial marriages, and it continued even further with the prohibition of Africans having any form of education. The separation of race was formed on a negative aspect by the 19th and 20th century. They were looked at like they were not even human, with over exaggerated beliefs about Negroes. The revolutionary war had come and gone, Thomas Jefferson thought that all men should be equal, and by the mid 1800’s slavery ended” (Smedley 7). With stereotypical views continuing it became belief that African-Americans were inferior. Scientist strived to find the difference between races which were either by intelligence or between black and white. With the legitimacy of the North American old world it signifies once again the importance of knowing American history, and realizing that without African-Americans the

United States of America might not exist right now. With the new knowledge known, finally see the bigger picture of what was and what could have been now. If all races came together and set aside racial boundaries and acknowledged the history behind things, then and only then we will become equal among race. Works Cited Page Smedley, Audrey. “The History of The Idea of Race and Why it Matters” (2007) Microsoft Word File. Professor of Anthropology Emerita Virginia Commonwealth University