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Race Relations in the U.S.

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Race Relations in the U.S.

I've discovered the real roots of America these past few days

and decided that writing about it was better than killing an innocent

victim to soothe the hostility I feel towards my heritage. I picked up

a pen because it was safer than a gun. This was a valuable lesson I've

learned from my forefathers, who did both. Others in my country react

on instinct and choose not to deliberate the issue as I have. If they

are black, they are imprisoned or dead. As The People vs. Simpson

storms through its ninth month, the United States awaits the landmark

decision that will determine justice. O.J. Simpson would not have had

a chance in 1857. Racial segregation, discrimination, and degradation

are no accidents in this nation's history. The loud tribal beat

of pounding rap rhythm is no coincidence. They stem logically from the

legacy the Founding Fathers bestowed upon contemporary America with

regard to the treatment of African-Americans, particularly the black

slave woman. This tragedy has left the country with a weak moral


The Founding Fathers, in their conception of a more perfect

union, drafted ideas that communicated the oppression they felt as

slaves of Mother England. Ironically, nowhere in any of their

documents did they address the issue of racial slavery. The

Declaration of Independence from England was adopted as the country's

most fundamental constitutional document. It was the definitive

statement for the American policy of government, of the necessary

conditions for the exercise of political power, and of the sovereignty

of the people who establish the government. John Hancock, president of

the Continental Congress and slave trader, described it as "the Ground

& Foundation of a future government." James Madison, Father of the

Constitution and slave owner, called it "the fundamental Act of Union

of these States." "All men are created equal," and endowed by the

Creator with the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the

pursuit of Happiness." They either meant that all men were created

equal, that every man was entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of

happiness, or they did not mean it at all.

The Declaration of Independence was a white man's document

that its author rarely applied to his own or any other slave. Thomas

Jefferson suspected blacks were inferior. These suspicions, together

with his prophecy that free blacks could not harmoniously co-exist

with white men for centuries to come, are believed to be the primary

reasons for his contradictory actions toward the issue of slavery. At

the end of the eighteenth century, Jefferson fought the infamous Alien

& Sedition Acts, which limited civil liberties. As president, he

opposed the Federalist court, conspiracies to divide the union, and

the economic plans of Alexander Hamilton. Throughout his life, Thomas

Jefferson, hypocrite, slave holder, pondered the conflict between

American freedom and American slavery. He bought and sold slaves; he

advertised for fugitives; he ordered disciplinary lashes with a horse

whip. Jefferson understood that he and his fellow slave holders

benefited financially and culturally from the sweat of their black

laborers. One could say he regarded slavery as a necessary evil. In

1787, he wrote the Northwest Ordinance which banned slavery in

territory acquired from Great Britain following the American

Revolution. However, later as a retired politician and ex-president,

Jefferson refused to free his own slaves, counseled young white

Virginia slave holders against voluntary emancipation of theirs, and

even favored the expansion of slavery into the western territories. To

Jefferson, Americans had to be free to worship as they desired. They

also deserved to be free from an overreaching government. To

Jefferson, Americans should also be free to possess slaves.

In neither of the Continental Congresses nor in the

Declaration of Independence did the Founding Fathers take an

unequivocal stand against black slavery. Obviously, human bondage and

human dignity were not as important to them as their own political

and economic independence. It was not an admirable way to start a new

nation. The Constitution created white privilege while consolidating

black bondage. It didn't matter that more than 5,000 blacks had joined

in the fight for independence only to discover real freedom didn't

apply to them. Having achieved their own independence, the patriots

exhibited no great concern to extend the blessings of liberty to those

Americans with black skin. Black people were thought of as inferior

beings, animals. "You can manage ordinary niggers by lickin' em and by

given' em a taste of hot iron once in a while when they're extra

ugly," one uncouth white owner was heard to say at a slave auction

shortly before the Civil War. "But if a nigger ever sets himself up

against me, I can't never have any patience with him. I just get my

pistol and shoot him right down; and that's the best way." Certainly

the formal doctrines of the country didn't apply to animals.

If the "animals" were excluded from the rights of the people,

then naturally it followed that they didn't deserve justice. Dred

Scott vs. Sanford stands as one of the most important cases in the

history of the United States Supreme Court. Most of the literature

deals with the controversial final decision, rendered on March 6,

1857, by Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney. "Once free always free"

became maybe once free but now back to work, nigger. This case was a

prime example of how even the American judicial system failed when

faced with volatile and substantive racial issues. Dred Scott was

declared to be still a slave for several reasons. 1) Although blacks

could be citizens of a given state, they could not be and were not

citizens of the United States with the right to sue in the federal

courts. In other words, "animals" couldn't sue a fellow countryman. 2)

Aside from not having the right to sue in the first place, Scott was

still a slave because he never had been free to begin with. Owning

slaves was protected by the Constitution at the time, and Congress

exceeded its authority when it passed legislation forbidding or

abolishing slavery in the territories. The Missouri Compromise was

such an exercise of unconstitutional authority and was accordingly

declared invalid. So, "animals" were the white man's property by

authority of the doctrines passed down by the Founding Fathers. 3)

Whatever status the slave may have had while he was in a free state or

territory, if he voluntarily returned to a slave state, his status

there depended upon the law of that slave state as interpreted by its

own courts. In Scott's case, since the Missouri high court had

declared him to be still a slave, that was the status and law which

the Supreme Court of the United States would accept and recognize. In

other words, in the middle of the nineteenth century, "animals" better

just keep their mouth shut and work if they knew what was good for


What was good for them was making the master rich. The good

Reverend Jesse H. Turner ...

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Keywords: race and ethnic relations in the u.s. an intersectional approach, the race relations in the us society can be traced to, what is the race relations act, race relations regulations, american race relations definition, race relations policy

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