Concept of race…. Now and then.

Manasseh Amartey

Ms. Maitland

Reading race

October 30, 2016

    Over the decades race has shaped and impacted our society in different ways. From Jim Crow laws, to the civil rights activists, to even the first black president of the United States, race has always been a part of people living in the United States. Race has impacted society before the Jim Crow laws, after them and even now in the 21st century.

   Before Jim crow laws, life for black people living in America was different. Especially after the 14th Amendment,which granted black people full protection under the law and citizenship. According to  Costly, Andrew. “A Brief History of Jim Crow.” Constitutional rights foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 30. Oct. 2016.” Stewart, a journalist, talks about how he saw many changes after the Amendment had been passed. Black police officers would arrest white criminals, white people would casually talk to black strangers, and in general black people were more freer. Over the next 20 years black people would again become segregated and face harsh treatment.

   Jim crow laws were laws that segregated black people. During the time black people had very little power and could do little to nothing. According to ” What Was Jim Crow.” Jim Crow Museum: Origins of Jim Crow. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016. Black people were segregated in restaurants. Black and white people could not eat together and if they did whites were to be served first, Under no circumstances was a black man to offer to light the cigarette of a white women. They were segregated in public restrooms,parks and even transportation. The supreme court would help undermine the constitutional protection of blacks with the plessy v. ferguson case. In 1896 this law would uphold racial segregation laws for public places under the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Over time civil rights activists would fight for equal rights and eventually Jim crow laws would become abolished.

    Now in the 21st century many things have changed. Black people have a lot more freedom, there are black people in congress and even a black president. However there is still some racism that happens in the country. People have taken this serious and have wrote books on it. One of these books is “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In the book the main character describes her life and racial situations she went through while living in the U.S. She also talks about her love life. On page 222 she states “ Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care.” This quote from the book shows how when you come to America your country does not matter to them only your skin color. Another reference is on page 191 when the main character Ifemelu meets Kelsey. She dislikes Kelsey because she believes she is one of those people who criticize America but does not want foreigners doing so. They should just be happy that they are here. People like Kelsey are seen all over the country and often agree with people when they talk about how bad America is but is quick to defend it when other people who are not from the country do so. Another reference is shown on page 127. Ifemelu and her friend Ginika are buying a dress and when the cashier tries to identify who helped them pick the clothes she uses adjectives that don’t portray race. This show’s how people in the U.S prefer avoid bringing up race in conversations. In chapter 15 Kimberly’s use of “Beautiful” makes Ifemelu uncomfortable because she realizes that she only uses this word when she is talking about black people.

     Black people have come a long way, from slavery, jim crow laws and segregation and also racial discrimination. They have earned their rights, but even now they struggle with racial stereotypes.

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