“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason…” (Heschel). Formidable words said by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel during a speech in 1963 in the midst of a monumental time in history, the Civil Rights movement. A movement which called for freedom and justice in America, for all men alike, and made great strides in its purpose. Yet still over half a century later America is still plagued with the prejudices of its ancestors causing conflict and resentment among Americans for simple reasons such as the color of one’s skin. For this reason, the social development of America has suffered and to some extent the economy has indirectly affected. The racism that still exists in America needs to end because it creates hate and divide, encourages intolerable behavior, and it is detrimental to society’s advancement. Racism can be defined as the discrimination of, or prejudice towards, a person based on their superficial genetic characteristics.
The concept of racism emerged as early as 1902 as a policy imposed on Native Americans (Bowser 527). In the 1930s when Jews were tyrannized by Hitler and again in the 1960s when Martin Luther King Jr encouraged the fight against the persecution of African Americans, the perception of racism transformed and amplified. Over the years, though the blatant display of racism is perceived to be on a decline, it seems “… that racial inequality is still produced in a systematic way …” (Bonilla-Silva 1363). Bonilla-Silva asserted that racism has formed a social hierarchy that creates an advantage for one group over another due to “… relations at a social, political, economic and ideological levels” (1360). This formed a network that is demonstrated by studies which show that African Americans are “12 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug-related crimes than [white Americans]” (Mercado).
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