How Racism Affects Urbanization in America

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The urbanization of America and the history that ties to it has been examined and theorized by many. The influences of what created such a history is up for debate. When cities began to develop in America, it appeared to be a result of the limited resources that were available in rural areas.

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People believed that if they moved from a rural area to an urban one, the potential for a better life and opportunity would be possible for their families. Migration from all areas of the world generated a wide range of characteristics in people and one of those differences, although there were many, was race. Cities were known as “Melting Pots.” These people were representing a collection of cultures, beliefs, religions, and new ways of life. Race, although disguised in many ways, was the driving force in the reshaping and overall development of Urban America.

African Americans first migrated North and West right after Emancipation. Millions of them decided to move into cities in these regions, this “… played a highly influential role in redefining American culture and transforming the political landscape of the century.” (357)^1 Due to the fact that African Americans and Immigrants migrated to the Americas with little to no money, there was high demand for low-income housing. With so many people flooding the cities for hopes of a better life, there was restricted space for people to live. The new urban American society developed to accommodate the large numbers of people moving in from the rural areas. This diverse population, bringing together different ethnic backgrounds and new ideas that were trying to exist as one, provided a deep necessity to make some big changes. The combinations of many cultures, languages, and religions forced the development of an urban society to accommodate the needs of all. Initially, the population in cities increased so quickly that people were losing jobs. One example would be the increase in agricultural efficiency, which caused many farmers to be unemployed. Farmers were forced to look to the city for employment. Another example would be how the immigrants came to the cities looking for employment in order to escape the poverty in their previous country, but were unaware of the challenges faced ahead when they arrived in America. These challenges consisted of malnutrition, poverty, unpleasant living conditions, and language barriers. When people migrated to America, they searched for jobs in factories because they required limited to no communication. These jobs were few and far between because of the overpopulation of immigrants during that time. When immigrants didn’t have a source of income to rely on, they turned to what they knew best. Immigrants began selling goods and cultural commodities just to make a living. Not having the opportunity to obtain a factory job was another example of racial discrimination.

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