Racism = Cancer

by Thomas Moody II

Instructor’s note: Thomas wrote this text in response to an assignment to write a researched persuasive or argumentative essay.

Racism is a cancer that has plagued the United States since its inception. Webster’s dictionary defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race (racism). The 2008 presidential election is bringing up questions of race. Will the country set race aside and vote for the more qualified candidate? Or, will the history of racism in America prevail? Ultimately, does racism still exist in America? I believe that it does, even though times are changing.

As an African American male, I, like many others, have experienced racism first hand and have fallen victim to negative stereotypes. In my hometown mall, I was in a clothing store with my brother. As we shopped I noticed that the security guard at the front on the store was not only watching us, but was following us around the store. At that moment I knew that he was following us because we were two black males and because we were black he thought we would steal from the store. This blatant racism infuriated me, so I asked the guard why in fact did he follow us and he couldn’t give an answer. This experience was motivated by stereotypical beliefs and ignorance, a recipe for racism. Some may argue that this was an isolated incident and does not happen everywhere. This argument is somewhat true. Racism does not occur everywhere and that is a good thing, but it happens. The fact that it does indeed happen is terrible and to try to diminish that fact because it doesn’t happen everywhere is even worse. This ignorance and denial of facts must cease before racism is ever removed.

The United States was built on a foundation of racism. America’s first president owned slaves. In fact, in 1791 while the nation’s capital was in Philadelphia, George Washington moved his slaves from the presidential house there, to his home in Virginia for fear of them choosing to be free as Pennsylvania abolished slavery (Becker). Slavery was based on racism. Europeans felt as though they were superior to Africans and wanted free labor. Therefore to own slaves was racist, and if George Washington owned slaves he was a racist. The blueprint of American government, the Constitution, originally contained blatant racism that not only allowed slavery, but classified a slave as three fifths of a citizen. This atrocity was amended and slavery was abolished in 1865 but racist beliefs still continued (Becker). The mid 1900s brought about the civil rights movement. This was a time in which, aside from slavery, racism was at its worst. During this time racism was not only a belief it was law. Jim Crow laws were a series of laws that promoted legal segregation based on race, where those of European descent had the best of public amenities (Davis). Through all of this racism, change came through civil rights leaders and especially Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He spoke of his dream that one day people of all races will come together and live in peace (Biographical). For the most part his dream has been realized. Race relations are nowhere near as bad as they were then. Public lynching is no longer a common practice and African Americans can freely vote. With these freedoms advancement has occurred in exponential amounts.

The most recent and most significant advancement in United States history is the election of the 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama. Words cannot and will never express the feelings I had at 11 pm November 4th, 2008. To know that all of the fighting, the sit-ins, the death, the marching, the singing, the crying, the despair, the anguish, and the overall struggle wasn’t for nothing. To know that, as an African American man in America, I can do anything that I work for. Barack Obama has become the symbol of ultimate success. However, that success was not achieved overnight. He faced many obstacles including racism. His biggest controversy was about his relationship with his former pastor of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Ross). I have personally met Rev. Wright and my father has studied under him. I can say from my personal experience that he is not an evil type of person. What he speaks about is what is real and what he believes his congregation needs to hear. He spoke about the racism in America and how it brings about negative connotations of the American people. Similar to my argument, people don’t want to believe that racism still exists, when in fact it does. Even with the fallout with his Christian minister, Obama had to combat ignorance regarding his name. Many believed that he was a Muslim because of his African name, when in fact he is not. I believe the issue of his name is irrelevant regardless because in America, it should not matter what religion he is as long as he is the most qualified candidate.

Throughout history African Americans have dealt with and have surpassed racism. I have dealt with and have surpassed racism. It does indeed still exist, just not on the same levels as before. Instead of getting angry and retaliating against it, people of all races should use it as fuel to drive towards success. Barack Obama brings change and may shrink those racist beliefs with hope of complete remission. Maybe he’s our chemotherapy.

Works Cited

“racism.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008.Merriam-Webster Online. 1 November 2008.<http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism&gt;

Becker, Eddie. “Chronology of Slavery”. 1999 10/29/08 <http://innercity.org/holt/chron_1790_1829.html&gt;.

Davis, Ronald. “The History of Jim Crow”. 10/29/08 <http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/history/creating2.htm&gt;.

“Biographical Information of Martin Luther King Jr”. The King Center. 10/29/08 <http://www.thekingcenter.org/mlk/bio.html&gt;.

Ross, Brian. “Obama’s Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11”. ABC News. 10/29/08 <http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=4443788 >.

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