« Historic Flaws of Inequality »
( 1292 Words )
Equality and justice, these two fundamental constitutional rights that many of us take for granted everyday are not long ago the reason for struggle by millions of people in America. Equality and justice are to be protected for all in America regardless of race. However in a time when American society was fully blinded by Eurocentric ideology, such inalienable rights were forcefully taken away from Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. As of today, racial discrimination and injustice still exists in American society. Thus, it is our duty to carefully examine the past, to uncover the “historic flaws of inequalities”, and to find ways to prevent history from repeating itself.

Eurocentricism, in Karenga’s words are simply the “thought and practice rooted in the assumption that the greatest relevance and value are centered in European peoples and culture and that all other peoples are at best marginal and at worst irrelevant” (5). With such ideology dominating a society, one can not expect people from such society to accept and respect the traditions, cultures and the ways of other people. Any one who deviates from this European paradigm is considered salvage and subhuman. Because of this Eurocentric world view, Europeans are the only people who are people. Because of this view, it is justifiable for the Manifest Destination, the Annihilation of Native Americans, the Enslavement of African Americans, the Annexation of Mexican Land, and the Exclusion of Asian immigrations.

Long before the Europeans came to the new world, Indian nations has established and flourished across the lands of America. American Indians were the first owners of this vast land. When European settlers initially came in small numbers, Indian people did not try to exclude and drive these new comers away. Instead, they established fur trades with the settlers based on mutual respects and interests. As settlers’ population grew, Europeans started raising tobaccos and other commercial crops with further expansions of settlement and farm into Indian land. Without food, they would raid Indian food caches. And all this inevitably results in conflicts. The Indians has every rights to defend themselves from invasions, yet the Europeans would portrait them as ruthless beasts that murders and rapes. This portrayal was so successful that the Indians were ultimately reduced to salvage in the heart of most Europeans. With the help of their advanced weaponry, the Europeans “would kill and take land in the name of their God and would use whatever means necessary to achieve their goals” (10, Johnson). The Indians were killed, annihilated and defeated. They were forced to sign treaties that “were written in English and used formal legal cannons that were poorly understood, if understood at all, by Indian people” (11, Johnson). After the revolutionary war, the treaty of Paris was signed. The treaty gave away many Indian lands yet the Indians were never consulted. Indians fought in the civil war and again they were the usual victim as their lands were annexed and use for war reparation. Every war the Indians fought, they were rewarded with devastation and death. Every war the Indians struggled, their lands were given away without their knowing and consent. With Manifest Destination and in God’s name, American Indians were moved and removed to further west in their small yet rapidly shrinking reservations. The Indians were confined in their reservations and many of their children were taken away and forced to assimilate in school thousands of miles away. Under the inescapable shadow of Eurocentricism, Indian peoples, their religions, their cultures, their languages, their rights to life were at best ignored and disrespected, at worst dissolved and destroyed.

American Indians are not the only victims to Eurocentricism and Manifest Destiny. Chicanos shared their same pain when California, New Mexico and the American southwest were ceded to the United States after the Mexican war and the Gadsden Purchase. Properties and lands were stripped from the original Chicano owners and Chicanos who remained in those ceded lands were racialized and targeted for discrimination simply because “The promises [, protection for the religious, civil, and land rights] the U.S. government made with respect to the conquered Mexican populations… have remained largely unfulfilled” (107,Dominguez).

When one examines the violence, exploitation, destruction, legalization and duration of the enslavement of Africans in the American slavery system, one could not agree more with Karenga that slavery is “one of the most catastrophic events in the history of human kind” (62). Slavery is “an objectification of [human], reducing [human being] to an object of labor, and use race as proof and assignment of human worth and social status” (63, Karenga). Once enslaved, African Americans were deprived of any human rights and human personalities. They were forced to work long day without being well fed. They were punished and slaughtered as domestic animals at the wills of their master. The three-fifths clause of the Connecticut Compromise in our Constitution and the Slave laws are the inerasable evidence that our Constitution, our government, our society, not only endorsed, but supported and institutionalized slavery. As civil wars ended, slavery was finally abolished after almost 250 years. Yet emancipation did not automatically come with political and economic power in a package. It would take decades after the passing of the Fifteenth Amendment before African Americans can exercise their rights to vote freely without the obstructions of the poll tax, the literacy test, the grand father clause and the intimidation of white terrorist organization such as the KKK. Without the support of Congress, with the passing of the Black Codes, African Americans were once again “reintegrated back into the southern economy under semi-enslaved conditions as sharecroppers” (69, Karenga). Failure of reconstruction, the Jim Crow laws, the Separate but Equal ruling by the US Supreme Court served as the basis of racialization, discrimination and it further reflected the legalization of inequality and injustice in American history.

Asian immigrations began in the 1840s when the Chinese arrived to work on plantations, goldmines and railroads. They were welcomed at first because they were perceived as earnest hard working people. However, as economy went downhill, they were soon to be blamed for low wages and unfair competitions. These contracted labors were often painted as coolies that were willing to work for the lowest of wage, were unable to think freely, and would not joining labor organizations. Thus, organizations such as the workingmen’s party, Asiatic Exclusion League were formed and “race riots instigated by white workers … were common on the west coast” (137, Ancheta). Often, Asian workers suffered casualties and the white murderers were not met with consequences and remained free and at large. Numerous laws were passed to subordinate Asians. Numerous court rulings were to sanctioned discriminations against Asians. The laundry ordinance, the cubic air ordinance, the landing tax, the foreign miner license tax, the cable act, the Page law and the Chinese Exclusion Act were all directed specifically at Asian immigrants for the sole goal of discrimination, subordination and exclusion. In short, “Basic rights and liberties, to work, attend school, own property, operate business, or even marry the person of one’s choice were limited by laws” (139, Ancheta). Unfortunately, Asian Americans, just like other non-European groups, have also fallen victim to the historic flaws of inequality and injustice in America.

Eurocentricism had caused millions of people in America to suffer decades of racial discrimination and social injustice. The damages and wounds that had been inflicted on the people of color, their bodies, their souls, on their religions, on their cultures, on their ways of life were beyond repair and repay. We can’t correct the past but we can create the present and future. Therefore, it is our duty to make America, to make the world a just place with equality for all. Is it the intent of this course?