Racial Segregation in America

Posted: October 24th, 2013


Racial Segregation in America











Racial Segregation in America

In the early 20th century, shortly after the end of slavery, slaves were associated with black people. Its end marked the beginning of equality between them and white Americans. According to Phillips (2007), black people had equal rights to citizenship and voting as American citizens (Phillips, 2007). However, these rights were amended in the early 20th century through regarding black people as citizens of a lower class. The amendment divided the two races in the provision of social amenities such as education, housing and employment among others. Black people were considered inferior to white, thus, their priorities came second to those of the whites. Despite being freed from slavery, black people found themselves undermined and secluded completely from white people. This was the origin of racial segregation in the U.S. Segregation is the alienation of people into groups based on their races. It occurs in doing various activities like playing sports, eating or even socializing.

Racial segregation in the U.S was evidenced in many ways, for example, when applying for employment. In the past, African Americans were given jobs that lowered their status as citizens, while white people were given executive positions. Black people were also segregated when they wanted accommodation and housing. This is because white people, unlike the black, were given luxurious houses. When it came to education, white children were taken to good schools and offered better learning facilities like books, classrooms and uniforms. However, black children went to schools that had none of these. This gave white Americans a form of power over black people to a point where they were demeaned and insulted publicly. This was done through the media, creation of images and symbols, which promoted racism.

The Jim Crow museum collects and displays images and artifacts that promoted racism in the late 19th century. The name originated from a white entertainer by the name Thomas Dartmouth. He modeled the Jim Crow character as a slave to show the way racial segregation had dominated America. The theme of the museum revolves around racial segregation, but the items are not displayed to promote it. According to Norman (2009), the exhibits are displayed for reassurance that segregation is over. They show a clear image of how black people were perceived. Many shows, images and symbols in the past were aimed at demeaning the black man in a symbolic manner. The Jim Crow museum displays various images that were widespread all over America and illustrates what each meant at the time. All these artifacts showed the way black people were viewed as inferior to the white man.

An example of an image found in the museum was the one of an entrance door to a restaurant. The entrance door to Coon Chicken inn had a black face with big red lips. The name of the restaurant was written on the teeth of the face, and the mouth, which was the point of entry, was wide open. As white people stepped inside the restaurant, it could be seen as if they were walking into the mouth of the face. Upon entry into the restaurant, all employees serving as waiters or cleaners were black people. This showed the way black people were viewed by the Americans as ones who were lazy and liked to eat.

Another example of an artifact, found in the museum is the mammy caricature. This was a figure of a fat, black woman in maiden clothes. The woman also had a smile that showed how happy and content the black woman was, as a slave. According to Abel (2008), figure of the caricature showed how unattractive black women are, and that their only goal is to serve (Abel, 2008). In most cases, it showed how a black woman’s life revolved around the white family she was serving. It also showed that despite the black woman having children, she spent most of her time caring for the white family and neglected her own.

The frontloaded research was significant, because it showed a clear picture on what is meant by racial segregation. It showed the different ways of livelihood between black and white people. Furthermore, the artifacts emulate how black people used to suffer under the pressure of the whites. It enables some to make clear comparisons between the past and present U.S and judge if there have been any changes that reduced segregation.

The museum visit proved that, racial segregation occurs, not only through offering services, but also through insults, random gestures and comments made by white people subconsciously. From the artifacts discussed, for example, in the restaurant, people go with the intention of eating not knowing that most symbols inside the restaurant promote racism. A comparison could be made to modern day America. Segregation is still practiced without people’s knowledge. In present day, America, people are highly particular in the type of food they eat. Some foods are related to black people, and some are related to whites. People have also formulated new mannerisms relating how they conduct their daily activities, and they relate them to a specific culture or race. This stereotyping is also a form of segregation.

There are similarities between experimental learning and personal experience. Stereotypical beliefs play a great role in determining the kind of relationship between people of different races. Normally, it is assumed that all Asians are skilled in mathematics, which is not the case. Although racial segregation began with the white man, and most of them were racists back in the day, in fact, it does not mean that all white people are. This stereotyping affects how people treat each other. African Americans may not want to interact with the whites because they fear being discriminated. This has further been transferred to children as the groups formed in schools are based on race, due to the stories told in the past about discrimination.

Being a diverse person is essential. It enables people to judge one another as individuals, as opposed to passing judgment based on race or culture. Knowing a person as an individual eliminates stereotyping and establishes unbiased relationships. Diversity is a key means of reducing racial segregation, because it allows people from all races to interact freely, without fear of being branded, due to their respective cultures.

The change required is to educate people on the disadvantages of stereotyping, and advantages of diversity. Most people are ignorant of the existence of stereotypes about races and assume that it has no effects. Providing education on the subject will create awareness and suggest various measures to deal with it. The material gathered is very useful in educating young people especially on the effects of racial segregation. It is known that, segregation is an evil from the past. Society has taught the youth about ancient history, and this knowledge has been carried forward and replicated by the youth. As a result, it hinders relationships by bringing back ghosts from the past. Personally, the knowledge can be applied to improve the way in which people judge each other. For a black person, the knowledge could be used to learn why he/she is not preferred to white people when being vetted for employment positions.

There are some assumptions made before the visit to the museum. It was assumed that, African Americans were being punished by mistreatment because they were criminals. White Americans were always right, and the decisions they made were for the good of the state. This knowledge originated from the days of slavery in the 19th century. It was part of the American culture to mistreat black people. This culture has been passed on to present generations without concrete evidence to incriminate black people. As a result, they have been judged harshly by the white Americans in recent years. These assumptions date back to the early 19th century when the black people were slaves. After release from slavery, the white man did not want equality between the two races. Although black people gained their freedom and equal rights as white Americans, they are still being viewed as second-class citizens to some extent. This is evident from the way black Americans are always referred to as thugs and most lawmakers are white people.

The observations and reflection revealed that African Americans were racially abused mainly because they were slaves in the past. White people were not ready to live among them as one and with equal rights. The initial assumption that African Americans were being mistreated because of committing crimes can be put under question after the museum tour. It is evident that white Americans wanted to emulate slavery after it was abolished and African Americans were being segregated because of their color. All artifacts in the museum showed a clear distinction between white and black people and most of them insulted black people indirectly.

The research conducted before the visit provided a lot of information concerning segregation in United States after slavery. Although the constitution had been amended to include the African Americans as citizens of the country, many white people believed they were not equal. This had led to the segregation that sought to ensure black people in the United States remained inferior to the white man (Abel, 2008). It was a different kind of slavery since their fate remained at the superiority of the white man. Without empowerment, the blacks had a long way to go. At the Jim Crow museum, representation of segregation comes live from all the artifacts. Therefore, the museum visit provides a practical experience of what it was like to be an African American during the segregation.

Further, the research carried out such as what led to the segregation as well as how it affected the lives of African Americans revealed a lot of information that made it easy to understand the artifacts found in the museum. Further, how the segregation started was revealed in the research as well as what led to its ending. The segregation started after an 1896 ruling of the case H.A. Plessy v. J.H. Ferguson, by the supreme declared that separate but equal facilities were not in violation of the United States constitution. It is from then one that separate institutions for blacks and whites were established. Although the ruling required equal facilities, this was not the case especially when it came to education. Further, the separation continued to prove that the two races were not supposed to mix on the notion that blacks were inferior to the white. This made it possible for the white race to discriminate and block the blacks from engaging in economic development as equally as whites.

This segregation did not only allow whites to discriminate African Americans, but also ridicule them through media and other literal works. Advertisements and cartoons depicted stereotypes held concerning the inferiority of the blacks. These are the artifacts presented in the museum. On the other hand, the research shows how the segregation ended with a Supreme Court ruling just as it had started. In 1954 the Supreme Court on the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruled that separate but equal facilities indeed violated the unites states constitution. This led to the abolition of the segregation in the United States. However, it would take time before the whole segregation is uprooted from the minds of the people (Abel, 2008).

With this information, the artifacts in the museum were quite easy to understand. The artifacts provided information about how segregation was depicted; further showing the different forms it took. While one would think segregation was in terms of different facilities such as schools, social amenities and public places, the artifacts shows many more forms. Some of these forms include the stereotyping that showed African Americans as inferior that were represented through pictures of women serving the white man and all blacks as lazy people Norman, B. (2009). The museum brought to the realization of many that racial segregation can still be practiced today, but in different forms. However, it is clear that stereotyping is the main cause to segregation where people believe that a certain race is inferior (Phillips, 2007). The truth is that people should be judged as individuals in order to appreciate diversity. In the aforementioned example on Asians being good at mathematics would mean treating all of them as good in math while it is not true. This would also not explain why other races have good mathematicians. Therefore, the only way to appreciate diversity is through viewing everybody as an individual.

Further research was conducted after the museum experience through observation of present day America. Comparing these observations to ancient America, it is evident that racial segregation and stereotyping have reduced. This statement is supported by the presence of powerful political leaders in the U.S, for example, President Barrack Obama. It shows massive growth in the U.S, because citizens have believed in the ability of African Americans to hold executive positions in the state. As a result, it has had a large impact on the U.S system of government as many political changes have been made by him. Since then, appeared many political African American leaders (Phillips, 2007). African Americans have also made an impact on sports and entertainment in the U.S. The state is known for its exemplary performance in the Olympics and this achievement could be credited to athletes such as Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin, just to name a few. This shows how black people are appreciated in the country today.







Abel, E. (2008). American Graffiti: The social Life of Segregation Signs. African American Review, 42 (1):9-24.

Phillips, D. (2007). Ethnic and Racial Segregation: A Critical Perspective. Geography Compass, 1 (5): 1138-1159.

Norman, B. (2009). The Historical Uncanny: Segregation Signs in Getting Mother’s Body, a Post-Civil Rights American Novel. African American Review, 43 (2): 443-456.








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