The holy trinity of sociological variables that unite us and divide us are class, gender, and race. The most sensitive topic of these three is race which is defined as a group of people who share a set of characteristics—typically, though not always, these are physical characteristics—and are believed to share a common bloodline. Race is a social construct; it is biologically unreal, but sociologically real. In the last 200 years, scientists have attempted to pin down racial categories through scientific racism—the pseudoscientific belief racism can be justified through differences in physical appearance from height to cranial size. With the attempt to claim racial superiority over others, racism took effect.
Racism has been a significant issue throughout American history. It has been defined by physical types and bloodlines which are linked to distinct cultures, behaviors, and abilities, ultimately creating a fine line between superior and inferior races. Racism was significantly evident from the early to late-mid 1900s through what defined as the ‘color line’ (Du Bois). The color line was exhibited everywhere from separate water fountains to designated seats on public buses. This racial emphasis has faded over the years with the help of freedom of speech.
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Professor Avery presented a slide that side, “The way to get rid of racism is to stop talking about it”. When members of a group are unsatisfied with certain policies or principles, they voice out their opinions and potential solutions in hopes to revise or eradicate them. The same approach applies to decrease the effects and practices of racism. Civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks have called out the injustice of prejudice which then effectively liberated those part of the inferior race. Racism must be talked about in order to make people aware of its negative consequences.
During the mid-1900s, there was a defined ‘color line’—racial segregation of public facilities. The racially inferior ‘colored’ people and the racially superior white people were designated certain water fountains and seats on public transportation. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, a bus was on its route. It started to fill with white passengers and the bus driver noticed several white passengers were standing in the aisle. The bus driver then stopped the bus and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three of them complied; however, one named Rosa Parks refused and remained seated. She did not want to give in into the superior race anymore. Later, Parks was arrested and charged with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. Upon hearing this, Edgar Daniel Nixon, head of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), organized a boycott of Montgomery’s city buses. For 381 days, most members of the African American community did not ride buses. Needing stronger leadership and better organization of these protests, the NAACP recruited Martin Luther King Jr. He is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolent resistance. Their continuous efforts led to the district court to eventually declare racial segregation laws or known as ‘Jim Crow laws’ unconstitutional, making the Montgomery Bus Boycott one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history.
Unfortunately, racism will never be fully eliminated as the social construct has been embedded in our minds for a long time. Efforts must be made in order to reduce the effects and spread of racism. There will be no change in society if racism is not addressed.