Slavery casts a dark shadow on the history of the United States, and knowing about the devastating impact it had on generations of people is fundamental. As the practice was heavily supported by the idea of the superiority of one race over another, its traces are still felt to this day. Racism is alive in modern society and fuels some peoples’ sense of entitlement and a complex of inferiority in others (Li, 2017). This may explain why the movements that fight for the rights of diverse populations continue their work.
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Brief History of Slavery
The topic of slavery has never left anyone indifferent to it. While the practice of using people for forced labor began with civilization, slavery in the United States will be examined further. Most of the slaves in the country lived in the South and worked on farms and plantations, completely dependent on their masters. A formal system of limits and codes was enforced upon slaves; they were refused education and even limited in their movement. Marriages between slaves were considered illegal, and masters often took some sexual liberties with their female ‘possessions.’ To divide slaves and decrease the likelihood of rebellions, they were classified into different ranks (from the most privileged to the least).
Only in 1865, slavery in the United States was abolished when Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It stated, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime […], shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (“13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of slavery,” 2016, para. 1). However, despite the abolition, the country still had to go through decades of progressive development and overcome segregation, which was banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a century after the Thirteenth Amendment was passed.
Impact of Slavery
While many people may believe that racism seized to exist when slavery and segregation were abolished, the reality shows that there is social inequality attributed to race. From the unequal distribution of educational resources to police brutality, folks of the color fight against the odds to become accomplished in life. For instance, young Black men are afraid of walking in the neighborhoods and catch the eye of police officers because of such infamous cases as Freddie Gray’s shooting. Women of color are under-represented in the media while single mothers are blamed for many issues that the community faces (Fountain, 2016).
Fortunately, the struggles of people of color have been getting the attention of filmmakers, musicians, actors, writers, social activists, and other prominent members of the society who show solidarity and support. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement has been heavily advertised and supported by such celebrities as Kanye West, Prince, Beyonce, Samuel L. Jackson, Katy Perry, and multiple others. The 2016 Academy Awards ceremony was boycotted by many celebrities for the absence of Black nominees while the viral Childish Gambino song This Is America shed light on the violence against the community (Gajanan, 2018).
Talking about the impact of popular culture is important in the context of past slavery and racism. Even though modern society still has a long way to go when it comes to removing all stereotypes and prejudices, the positive developments should never be overlooked. To overcome the negative effects of slavery, people should come together and make changes despite the political or social climate in the country.
Fountain, R. (2016). Black single mothers are more than scapegoats. Huffington Post. Web.
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Gajanan, M. (2017). An expert’s take on the symbolism in Childish Gambino’s viral ‘This Is America’ video. Time. Web.
Li, H. (2017). What slavery left to modern society? Medium. Web.