Helping Improve Race Relations

By: Haley Becker

Slavery in America

Slavery has been in America for hundreds of years. This all began when colonists brought people from Africa to the colonies in 1619. These slaves were sent to work on chores such as picking tobacco, which was very profitable at the time. As the demand for tobacco, cotton, and other goods grew, so did the demand for slaves. In 1793, a man named Eli Whitney had invented the cotton gin, increasing the want of slaves even more. An estimated total of 6-7 million slaves were imported by 1800. With so many people now owning slaves, more and more people were also starting to argue that it was wrong.

These people, abolitionists, were right to believe that slavery was wrong. Most slaves had horrible living conditions, barely getting any sleep each night, and not being allowed much food each day. Slave owners often did not go easy on them, and were often very cruel. If a slave did something wrong, even accidentally, they could be beaten or whipped severely. Slaves were not treated as normal people; they were seen only as three fifths of a person. Even if a black person became free, they were not allowed to do many things whites could do, and were still looked at as inferior by others.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was appointed president. Lincoln had made it clear that he was against slavery, and this angered the southern states, where it was legal. Within only three months of being elected, seven states seceded to form the Confederate states. Eventually, a total of eleven states left the Union. Lincoln didn't want this, and decided he had to do whatever it took to get the states back together, regardless of what happened to the slaves. In 1861, the Civil War erupted, and raged on until 1865. In the end, Lincoln's Union overpowered the smaller Confederate states. After the victory, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, therefore freeing about three million black slaves.

Improving racial relations

Even as far as we have come concerning race relations today, there is still much for us to improve on. Though we have overcome slavery, and segregation, prejudice against African Americans still exists in many people. This prejudice often shows through in places like schools, or with jobs, and is very common to see in the media. Nowadays, it isn't a rare sight to see a white police officer shooting an unarmed black person. There have been many protests on this topic, and you will often see it plastered all over the news. A child's parents are also a huge factor in how their children act towards other races. If a kid grows up hearing prejudice, or stereotypical things from their parents, they will pick up on it and believe it themselves.

Much of this racial tension today has stemmed from the slavery that occurred so long ago. Many people from that time period were led to believe that whites are superior to blacks. This belief that they had, they passed down to their children, and they passed down to theirs, and so on. Kids do not grow up being prejudice or hateful against other races. They learn this behavior, it is not natural. They learn it through their environment, they pick up on how others act towards other races. As long as kids keep picking up this behavior, and are not taught to stop at a young age, it will be extremely difficult to eradicate.

I do believe that this is a problem in our country, which is why I have an plan which would help. I chose to do a study abroad program for my idea. Students interested in signing up would be given an assortment of places in Africa to choose from. They would leave for two months, giving them plenty of time to have new experiences and meet new people. Being surrounded by the African culture would be a good opportunity to help them gain a greater appreciation for it, and learn about the place where all of the slaves were taken years ago. Meeting new people can also be a fun experience, having friends of different cultures and races will make you more aware of prejudice and stereotypes.

Big image