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Racial Segregation and “Jim Crow” Laws

Racism is a well-known concept nowadays and a despicable issue for numerous citizens of the United States. Unfortunately, the phenomenon became viewed as a problem not so long ago; the country cultivated racial discrimination for most of its history. The ideas based on racism deeply penetrated American society and defined it for a prolonged period. The essay discusses the “Jim Crow” laws and segregation as past realities.

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One of the influential phenomena of the time was the “Jim Crow” laws that directly relate to racism. The term “Jim Crow” comes from a typical black character of minstrel shows that depicted racial stereotypes, humiliating the Afro-Americans (Volanto et al.). Precisely, the laws were statutes demanding segregation; namely, white and black people were separated in public and some private spaces. The members of different races were to visit schools, shops, and train stations that were meant for them only (Volanto et al.). The motivation behind implementing these laws was the affirmation of white supremacy and alienation between the races (Dr. Michael Phillips’ History Channel). The approval of these laws is connected to the Rise of Populism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since most voters were white, politics tried to please them by propagating discriminatory laws (Volanto et al.). Thus, segregation has been a widespread actuality while the Populists impacted the masses.

As was mentioned, white minstrelsy was a popular show for Americans in the conditions of the widespread racist views. This public entertainment included white people depicting the stereotypical representation of the Afro-Americans in exaggerated form through the use of makeup and racist jokes (Volanto et al.). The phenomenon’s popularity was present even in the North because segregation laws worked effectively to disintegrate the races. For example, black people could not access public bathrooms, bartering services, medical help, and access to houses in white neighborhoods because; the tablets on these institutions and organizations clearly defined that they were not welcome. Moreover, the schools for Afro-Americans were too small for the number of students, and there was little access to textbooks (Volanto et al.). Thus, racism and segregation were ingrained in the culture of the United States all around.

Furthermore, the “one-drop” rule was important for implementing the “Jim Crow” laws. The rule stated that a person whose ancestors in any generation were black was black themselves. Thus, for example, children of raped black women were considered black and experienced segregation (Dr. Michael). The clear definitions were specifically important in the South because of the race’s generational blend. According to the rule, a black person was treated in de jury (on the constitutional level) and de facto (by people who personally reacted to the Afro-Americans) levels. Moreover, the segregation concerned Mexicans and Mexican Americans since they were seen as enemies after the war with the people (Volanto et al.). Hence, segregation was a powerful force that disjoined peoples and races in America.

Finally, Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision is a significant event in American history. The decision not to defend a black person in the instance proclaimed the rightfulness of segregation. The court presented that it is the right of a citizen to be private and separated from others and, thus, segregation was said to be constitutional (Volanto et al.). The Plessy decision was undone by the 1954 Brown decision when the court proclaimed that every citizen has a right to protection. Then, the terrible experience of segregation slowly dissipated across the country.

To conclude, the fact that segregation was considered a proper decision that was integrated into law and society is terrible. It shows that Afro-Americans were widely discriminated and the whites committed multiple unconstitutional acts during this time. Fortunately, the segregation era ended by accepting the need for equal treatment of all races and ethnicities. Yet, this historical period is important for demonstrating the horrible mistakes never to be done again.

Work Cited

Dr. Michael Phillips’ History Channel. “Jim Crow and the types of segregation.” YouTube, uploaded by Dr. Michael Phillips’ History Channel, 2020, Web.

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Volanto, Keith, et al. The American Challenge Reader Volume 2. Vol. 5, Abigail Press, 2021.

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