The Civil Rights Movement/ Black Panther Party
Most of us, being United States citizens, would like to believe that everyone in this country is living in conditions of utmost freedom and equality. Although according to the constitution this is true, anyone who has ever been the victim of oppression knows not to take equality for granted. Our society has slowly grown to accept the different types of people that live in our country; it is now a lot less common to see people’s rights such as freedom and equality being abused. However, the influences of the past, when the living conditions were far less then equal for many groups of people, can still be witnessed today. A fine example of this could be seen through the way in which housing discrimination led to the colonization of Blacks into their own neighborhoods and communities, which eventually led to the creation of ghettos and gangs.
Racism, in itself, is a belief that a person holds; it forces another being to be placed at a lower status within one’s mind and in the society as a whole. Keeping Blacks and other minorities at a lower level was the principal state of mind for many of the whites during the early part of the twentieth century. This kind of mentality exists in our society till this day among certain groups of people. The cold and harsh manner with which the Blacks were treated takes us all the way back to slavery. Back in those days the majority of this country’s population accepted it. The oppressed African Americans eventually began to become more organized and started to fight for the civil rights they deserved as citizens of the United States. Despite the attempts of the Civil Rights Movement, much damage was already done; unfortunately many minds were already tarnished with negative images of what the Black person was and could ever be. In spite of the fact that many Black people were working towards moving up and making a life for themselves, racism continuously kept them from advancing in the society.
In the early part of the twentieth century racism placed a strong precedent for the way in which Blacks are today. After the civil war more and more free Blacks began to migrate north. They were seeking the possibility of “better social and economic opportunities” (Abrams 10). The high hopes were soon brought back down, as the Blacks were welcomed to the cities by the overwhelming mentality of the masters looking down on their slaves. They encountered landlord after landlord turning them away because of their unwillingness to rent to Blacks and other newly migrated minorities. It was this constant refusal to integrate housing that eventually caused the creation of minority driven neighborhoods. Since the majority of the whites turned their backs on Blacks and the other minorities, African Americans were forced into forming the types of communities that contained people of their race and poor financial state.
Many of them came looking to move ahead in their new lives that they were recently granted by the constitution; but they were only pushed to join the fairly new neighborhoods, which were slums compared to those inhabited by the dominating white residences. The reason for this type of segregation could be explained as another tool of racism for the white man’s advantage. The effects of these neighborhoods were more damaging then the simple prevention of Blacks and other minorities from integrating with the whites.
By zoning the individual into compartments determined by color, it excluded the opportunity for a fusion of interests. By confining children to separate neighborhood schools and playgrounds, it sharpened the lines of distinction and developed illusions of superiority…It was in housing that segregation received its greatest impetus and momentum. Once rooted there the segregation pattern spread unattested until the Negro ghetto became an accepted part of the American landscape (Abrams 7).
“Local authorities used every available weapon to keep the blacks divided; housing was simply the physical expression of this racial policy” (Rudwick 10). Even if a family was able to afford housing in a predominantly white neighborhood, they were still not allowed to move in there. Despite the slow improvement of their economic status Blacks