Defining Racism w/ respect to Oppressive Laws

I think that there is something that should be said in the midst of all this latest and growing controversy about racism. Racism has generally been defined 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

This definition leave out an important consideration that I want to share. Believing that one race is superior to another is one thing, having the power to enact social conventions, laws, common practices that reinforce those beliefs on a large scale is another thing. Instituting laws and social practices like the stop and frisk, or fucking around with voters rights that may in fact make it harder for certain racial demographics to vote is another thing. Racism will never completely die but we can find ways to stop or curtail its influence on laws, social and legal practices etc.  One sagacious comment I received the other day said that even if we were all mulatto we will still find ways to discriminate against each other.


One of the reasons the N-word is so hurtful is because there is and always has been dedication social institution there to reinforce the prejudice behind the use of the word. It is quite easy to see why there is such a backlash to celebrities/famous people using the N-word.

One consideration many people have in the back of their minds is if someone like Paula Deen and her brother are not penalized in some way for their behaviors then it sets a precedent. Then someone else  does similar things or slightly worse and  it is very easy to slip back into old habit that never really left.  Jim crow laws ended in 1965  15 years before I was born, 15 years isn’t enough time to change the mind set and mentality of an entire nation.


Geary Act of 1892

ch1882statueofchinesehead CoolieusaBesides renewing the exclusion of Chinese laborers for another 10 years, also required Chinese already in the U.S. to carry a resident permit, a sort of internal passport, that served as proof that they entered the U.S. legally and had the right to remain in the country. Failure to carry the permit at all times was punishable by deportation or a year of hard labor. In addition, Chinese were not allowed to bear witness in court, and could not receive bail in habeas corpus proceedings.

Jim Crow Laws (1876-1965)

This mandated racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly “separate but equal” status for black Americans. Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated.

Anti-Miscegenation Laws (Inter-racial Marriage Laws)

custom_1255657249152_miscegenationIn the United States, anti-miscegenation laws (also known as miscegenation laws) were state laws passed by individual states to prohibit miscegenation, nowadays more commonly referred to as interracial marriage and interracial sex. All anti-miscegenation laws banned the marriage of whites and non-white groups, primarily blacks, but often also Native Americans and Asians. In many states, anti-miscegenation laws also criminalized cohabitation and sex between whites and non-whites. In addition, the state of Oklahoma in 1908 banned marriage “between a person of African descent” and “any person not of African descent”, and Kentucky and Louisiana in 1932 banned marriage between Native Americans and African Americans. While anti-miscegenation laws are often regarded as a Southern phenomenon, many northern states had anti-miscegenation laws as well.


lynching-photoLynching, the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action, occurred in the United States chiefly from the late 1700s through the 1960s. This type of murder is most often associated with hanging, although it often included burning and various other methods of torture. Only rarely were lynchers punished, or even arrested, for their crimes. Between 1866 and 1940, at least 258 blacks were lynched in Kentucky (the exact number is not known because some cases were never reported). “Legal lynching” was condoned under the public hanging law in effect at the time. Blacks accused of crimes were tried under hostile circumstances, with no real chance to prove guilt or innocence, and swiftly given a death sentence. In other cases, the victims of lynching were not even accused of a specific crime—except, perhaps, that of violating some unwritten social convention.



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