Environment influences the way people relate and associate with others. Similarly, it dictates how people behave in different situations and the behavior they should predispose in such situations. The information obtained from life experiences and daily activities play an integral part in shaping culture and social values of a given social group; an idea that distinguishes that social group from others. The impacts associated with widening the gap between certain social groups (superior) over another social group that is perceived as being inferior have existed throughout history and prevails in almost all facets of the society. History affirms that slavery and jig crow laws are some of concepts that are directly linked with social stratification and racial inequalities. For many years, Americans have coped with the issue of slavery coupled with Jig crow laws that widened social, economic, and political rift between African-Americans and White Americans.
Slavery emerged in 18th and 19th centuries before spreading to other parts of the world. This fact does not mean that slavery never existed before the 18th century because it dominated in Britain. However, declaration of United States as a sovereign and independent state influenced slave trade and slavery in the region where more than five hundred slaves from African were taken to America. Most of the slaves were taken to Brazil; where they worked in cotton, sugar cane and horticulture plantations, before being moved to America; which had higher life expectancy than Brazil (Schneider, 89). In 1793, South America established cotton industry that hired slaves to provide human labor; an idea that lead to American Civil War that lasted for four years. The emergence of reconstruction era (1865-1878) widened the gap between white Americans and African Americans thus leading to racial inequalities. This period was characterized with enactment of Jim Crow laws that denied African-Americans access to education, land ownership, equally employment opportunities, and holding senior positions in government. Jim Crow laws advocated for racial segregation and “separate but equal,” principle in all public places (Klarman, 67). African-Americans were not allowed to interact with White Americans because each group was required to occupy certain places in either public transport or public place. This move created the perception that White Americans were more superior than African-Americans thus systematizing economic, social, education and political disadvantages on African-Americans. However, the question that needs to be addressed is how “whites” resolved paradox of slavery and Jim Crow laws.
Through formation of civil rights movements: In 1950s, numerous civil rights movements emerged with the aim of protecting rights of the minority groups in the society. These movements involved women, men, and people from all lifestyles with the sole intention of opposing racial discrimination, violation of human rights and other forms of social injustices. Martin Luther King Junior remains one of the prominent personalities who fuelled formation of civil rights movements. Since then, Americans have advocated for formation of civil rights movement so that to protect rights of the oppressed and minority groups. This move has helped conflicting groups appreciate and value their diversity; an idea that is envisioned in group’s cultural representation, signs and habitus.
Enactment of laws: Several clauses and Acts were amended in the constitution aimed at ending slavery and Jim Crow laws and racial inequality. In 1789, article 2 of the constitution was amended and advocated that slaves be treated equally and be accorded equal opportunities like other citizens. Enactment of Civil Acts of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 marked the end of Jim Crow laws and racial inequalities in the society. Since then, other laws and acts have been enacted so that to address issue of slavery and racial inequalities in the society thus promoting regional integration.
The phrase “Kill the Indian and Save the Man” emerged during the 19th and 20th centuries when the United States government gave a state policy, ordering that all American-Indians children to attend government run and Christian based schools. The government believed that American-Indians lacked civilization and anguished in poverty because they lacked quality and affordable education. By the end of 1898, the government had established more than 200 boarding and reservation schools that trained and offered vocational training to American-Indian children (Smith, 50). During the learning process, the children were impacted with basic knowledge and skills that enabled them attain higher social-economic status than their parents, but lower than their masters (White Americans). Offering quality education to Indian children was one of the priorities of the American government, but it later changed this goal. As time moved on, more boarding schools came into existence with the intention of secluding Indian children from their parents, traditions, culture, and custom, and teaching the children the American culture. The state officials held the perception that is was imperative to “kill the Indian man traditions,” before educating American-Indian children. Based on this assertion, the government believed that Indian culture and traditions hindered civilization and fuelled poverty among American-Indians. In order to achieve this goal, Indian children were not allowed to speak their native language apart from English. In so doing, majority of Indian children developed the perception that their traditions and culture was inferior in relation to American’s culture; an idea that was manifested in their habitus constructs. Indian students started adapting westernized culture in terms of dressing, talking and associating with other members of the society. Additionally, Indian boys and girls learnt different manual skills that helped them adapt the sedentary way of life and climb the social ladder. Boys spent most of their time in cultivating farm, wedding, and looking after the animals. On the other hand, girls learnt useful skills such as arranging flowers, decorating houses, cooking, sewing, and ironing clothes thus leading to diffusion of western culture (Smith, 66).
Indian boarding schools were in deplorable condition compared to American schools. The former lacked adequate teaching resources, water, adequate food and experienced outbreak of diseases because of poor sanitation. Many Indian students died yearly from contagious and communicable diseases as they were overcrowded in their dormitories. Indian boarding schools operated as military camps where students had to follow school rules to the later. Anyone who violated schools rules received severe punishment inform of starvation, beating and exclusion from other students. Based on this fact, Indian students developed the perception that western culture and ideology is superior and leads to civilization. This fact has existed over the years and has changed the way American-Indians relate with other social groups globally.