African American Studies

Question 1

In the development of the America history, there have been a number of monumental developments particularly with the African American Society. During the slavery, there were harsh conditions for the slaves. Africans sold to the Americans as slaves had to rely on their owners in terms of food and shelter. In most cases, they ended up hungry and with no shelter for themselves. The slaves could not complain because of fear being given a whipping and other forms of corporal punishments. Their housing facilities were in the plantations and farmlands. There were extreme cases where some slaves had to build their own houses. In any given year, the slaves were provided with one pair of shoes and three pairs of underwear (Franklin, 2000).

The Jim Craw era was similar to the slavery but encompasses the modern day elements such as the voting process. Jim Craw did not see the African Americans as a part of the American society, hence was against their desire for involvement in the democratic process of voting. The economy of the southern states during the era of Jim Crow was based on agriculture, a practice that the African American society has dominated. While the majority found work in agricultural fields, others sought to work in cities, in the North and South. There was a small class of influential black middle class that Jim Craw did not wish to see climbing the societal ranks. Jim Craw opposed black civilization and the desire of the African American society to gain an education and a decent livelihood. He opposed their presence in schools as well as in the society, but there was a revolution and struggle from the black Americans that saw themselves freely interacting with other members of the society and earning a decent education and livelihood. The most triumphant milestone was when the African American society could finally participate in the democratic voting process.

The Harlem renaissance was a cultural revolution that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. In the decades immediately preceding the World War I, there was a movement of African Americans to the industrial north. They were escaping the conditions of the south that has now become economically depressing. Africans moved to the cities and started interacting with the other Americans. It was an error of social and cultural acceptance as they sought to make their culture and presence felt in the cities. However, a majority of them could not afford the high living costs of the cities hence they had to settle in the ghetto that was Harlem. The immigrants were excited for being able to be in the society and partake in social activity without the condemning and discerning eyes of the Americans (Franklin, 2000).

The Civil rights era was marked by the struggle of the African Americans who wanted to gain social acceptance in the country. They were of the opinion that, being a part of the American society, they deserved equal rights and treatment from the society. Various African Americans voiced their opinions and the desire of blacks to have an equal place in society. There were activists such as Martin Luther king Jnr and Nellie McClung. Slavery had reduced to minimal levels and the blacks were happy having the opportunity to climb the social ladder. Their living conditions had improved, and their welfare was high. They no longer had to depend from the whites for a majority of their needs. This era was marked by a struggle between blacks and whites, and eventually they got their civil rights (Williams, 1988).

The Post Civil rights era came immediately after the civil rights era. It was one thing for the whites to acknowledge that the blacks had equal rights in the society, but it was another thing for them to implement the rights of the African Americans. Albeit being a time of political and economic milestone for the African Americans, the era was an era marred by the racism and discrimination. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader ran for the presidential nomination under the Democratic Party, bringing unprecedented leverage and support to the black politics. The blacks were allowed to partake in the voting process, and have one of their own run for a public office (Morgan, 2000). One of the most monumental successes of the civil rights era was the election of Barrack Obama as the 44th president of the USA in 2008. Although such vices as discrimination and racism are present in society, their levels are minimal. The African American can interact freely with other members in society.

Question 2

Racial Color Blindness

Bonilla Silva coined the term color blindness to refer to the disregarding of physical and external racial characteristics such as color in the selection of individuals for participation in any activity or the reception of any service. Their racial aspects and origin are not crucial aspects to their contribution in society. Color-blind operations have no classifications and categorizations; they do not use racial profiling and data or distinctions based upon ones race to come to a conclusion about an individual. A perfect example of the application of color blindness is an application process where the applicants are not required to provide any information about their race.

Despite the milestones that the African American society has come through during their slavery, there are individuals who still fuel the racism and discrimination. Color blindness offers African Americans a fair and level ground of opportunity leading to equality with the Americans in the society. Although there are average differences in the character traits of different individuals, there are no pure races (Davis, 2009). There are individuals and institutions dedicated towards the support of color blindness in the institutions and society. The American Civil Rights Institute’s Connerly Ward has worked effortlessly in the promotion of a series of voting initiatives in the states of Washington, California and Michigan.

In their struggle for independence, the African Americans have had to endure racial profiling and discrimination at the hands of the Americans. In the modern day society that is dynamic and independent, it is only prudent that color blindness is encouraged to enhance participation in societal matters. It would be an honor to the minority to participate in activities of the society without having been racially profiled for the beginning. It is the vicissitudes of life that have caused Bonilla Silva to deliver the concept of color blindness to all the members of the society. This concept is not only for use by the African Americans, but also other minority groups that find their way into the American Society such as the Hispanics and the Latin Americans.

Although there has been a revolution in the society and the African Americans now have equal rights, there are aspects of their interactions with the Americans that could be classified as racial. Critics have not been silent on the issue of color blind racism. Some state that color blindness is an ideology being promoted in to undercut the political and legal foundation of affirmative action and integration. Other critics allege that a majority of groups hide behind color blindness in an effort to avoid the topic of racism and consequent accusation of racial discrimination. One definition of the success of color blindness is that no individual chose their background, hence should not be discriminated on the basis of their race (Harris, 2009)

Color blindness aids towards the African American aim of equity in society because in their contribution to the society, there will be no racial profiling. It is satisfactory to work and live in a society that does not have to ask for one’s racial profile to accept their contribution. This makes the African Americans feel accepted and hence increase their contribution to the same society that once enslaved and colonized them. The individuals will feel more accepted and welcome in the society. Having been at the mercy of the Americans in the decades that led to modern civilization, color blindness is the easiest way the American society can appeal to the African Americans and make them feel more welcome. Their contribution will be effortless when they feel that their race is not a determining factor to their participation in the society.

Question 3

Black Community Institution: The Family

The family is one of the institutions that have helped to shape the struggle for the independence in the African American society. The family is a unit in the African American society that signifies a sense of belonging and acceptance. It is evident that African American families stay together, and are a source of strength and inspiration to one another. It is the family institution that leads to society acceptance and success. A look at some of the activists and advocates of African freedom and color blindness had the support of their families. When the slaves were put to labor in the plantations, it is their strong family ties that bound them together and gave them the strength to carry on at the moments that they felt as if the pressure was overwhelming (Allen, 2000).

During the civil rights and the post-civil rights era, it were the close family ties that the families enjoyed and which helped them to succeed in their endeavors to have equality and social acceptance in the society. The post-civil era has been marked by the election of the first African American man as the United States president. Throughout his reign, he has received the support and help of his family. This goes to show that the family is the strongest entity in the African American society. They live together, and irrespective of their backgrounds, they treat each other as family and help each other get through the rough times such as the colonial period and the Jim Craw era.

The family has helped to shape the sense of a communal black identity because of the values that guide them in their interactions with the society. Slavery was the most turbulent era of the African American society. There were harsh and inhumane living conditions and punishments for the slaves. Though the Americans did not provide them with the right amount or food and the standard shelter, the slaves often lived in close nit families and had an identity formed by the values that they held close to them. The family does not necessarily mean relatives to the African Americans. The family is a symbol of unity and prosperity amongst the blacks; it has formed a distinct culture and sense of belonging around this entity. The interactions between the African Americans  has led them to form bonds that help them get through the racial discrimination and racism triumphantly because they have a strong system of support on which to fall back; the family (Early, 2000).

The black family is a discussion in the context of the development of the black community (Allen, 2000). There are mutual and interactive actions by the black institutions and the black community that helped them to successfully demand for equality and civil rights in the society. Other that offers a support system, the black family offers familial functions of socialization such as racial consciousness and economic functions. Black families have been vigilant in the effort to assist in the development of the black community and they have used the resources available to them efficiently.

The relationship between the black community and the black family is linear and has attributed to the quest and search for the social and economic equity in the society. The self-concept amongst the families has led to the creation of a black identity in the society. Although the concept of equity in society is within reach, the black family remains the strongest tool of survival for the African American society.

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