Black and White Race Relations History in America


Equal rights are enshrined in the American Constitution under the bill of rights, but this is not the case in reality as seen by complexities of racial relations in the United States. Based on different historical readings of slavery and race relations in America, I am not convinced that everybody enjoys equal rights in the United States. The history of slavery shows that equality will be difficult to achieve based on skin colour. It is difficult for race relations to take place in United States due to historical injustices meted out on black people (Hughes, 1948). Historical literature from black slaves and activists calling for the end of slavery and segregation paints a picture of deep feelings of mistrust and lack of understanding (Zinn, 1980). Several readings show that the first contact between white and blacks led to a situation where blacks were considered inferior to white people in all aspects. For instance, W.E.B. Du Bois points out the issues of slavery as being more than historical questions since it will always be a concern in analyzing the relationship between races.

Race relations between blacks and whites have always been dogged with issues emanating from slavery, racism and segregation. Even though modern America is today more accommodating and tolerant on issues of race, equality in certain aspects has not been achieved. For instance, Martin Luther King fought for equal rights for all races and it has been painstakingly slow and hard to achieve equal rights (King, 1963). For instance, white people fear venturing out to black neighbourhoods referred to as “Ghettos” due to fear or rejection. In other instances, it is difficult for black people to marry from the white race due to fear of rejection or condemnation from its race. Several writings of literature do assert that enslaving blacks was easier than other races such as Indians (Zinn, 1980). As a result, we contend that white people in the past found black people to be submissive to enslavement and thus this contributed to excessive and harsh treatment from white people. As a result, black people still resent white people due to excesses which they have never apologised.

We witness a writing on the 4th of July Independence Day where people especially whites celebrate the Independence of the United States. The black author in this piece expresses his outrage and anger at people who are celebrating an event that marks their freedom yet they did not recognize the rights to liberty by black people (Douglass, 1855). White people have never formally apologized or set aside a day to celebrate the freedom of the black person even though slavery and racial discrimination were abolished in the United States. This in itself presents a harsh reality of inequality and lack of sincerity to forge a common and united front as a nation. The current relation between blacks and whites has been deemed further by inequalities within the American society. For instance, black people suffer from poor education or healthcare systems, high unemployment and a discriminate justice system (King, 1963). Little progress has been achieved in bridging inequality and this has further worsened the relationship between black and white Americans. The actions of white people and history show that the relationship between black and white will not be solved by laws. Therefore, readings on history and literature on race relations is still relevant in the United States.


Douglass, F. (1855). What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? Boston, MA: Palgrave.

Hughes, L. (1948). I, Too, Sing America. Web.

King, M. (1963). Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]. Web.

Zinn, H. (1980). A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Chicago, IL: Pelshiver.

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