In the mid 1900’s racism took over the United States, causing people to die, be severely beaten and traumatized for no reason. It started in the colonial era when white Americans were given so many rights and privileges and yet denied all other races. European Americans were granted certain rights to an extent, such as education, immigration, voting rights and a few more. (Fuston, Jeanna. “‘From the Seen to the Told’). In Beloved by Toni Morrison, the girl is an escaped or runaway slave, and the dangers she faced was out of the world, escaped slaves would have to travel on the underground railroad, they had to travel great distances just to feel a little freedom which never even happened till later on. They had to walk great distances sometimes even on foot, with only short amount of time to do so. During their adventure they also had little to nothing, no food, no clothes, they just had what they could take which would usually be there body.
They also had no protection, even though they were escaped slaves, they still could be caught by slave catchers and brought back into slavery at any moment, for them not being able to have any education, they were very smart people more what you would say ¨street smart.¨ They knew how to hide and they knew when to travel. (George, Sheldon. “Approaching the ‘Thing’ of Slavery). If slaves were caught, they were punished with outrageous punishments, they often got a whipping, shackling, hanging, beaten, burned, mutilation, branding and imprisonment. Sometimes a slave wouldn’t even be doing anything wrong, the slave owner would just re beat them to remind them that they were a slave and that the slave owner had control over them and to never forget it. Being an escaped slave was also a common thing, slavery was obviously really bad in the deep south, but they had a place to runaway to, Northern States. A very high number of slaves escaped slavery, as many as 100,000 escaped on the underground railroad, the northern states accepted them, the people of color felt somewhat comfortable living around these people, it was a new feeling to them. (George, Sheldon. “Approaching the ‘Thing’ of Slavery).
When US supreme court chief justice Roger Taney declared in 1857 that black people had little to no rights and that white people were to be respected, he was looking at the social reality of his day. Slavery established black people at the bottom of the American racial order, a position that allowed every white person to feel superior and better than any black person. as people of color migrated to cities in the north and south, their mindset both followed and lead them. When black people settled in their new communities, their perception was thrown off, but as their numbers grew, local white people worked to contain them. Over time, the lowly position of black people became institutionalized, and passed from racist generation to racist generation. black people usually were appointed to the least desirable sections of a city, often “across the tracks” from the white communities, or in the “black sections” of town, black ghetto. As black people adapt in these segregated spaces, they can “be themselves”, away from the direct control of white people. Yet, there is still an unusual feeling that white people and their color ultimately control the ghetto’s race, their finance and legal and criminal-justice systems. While American society is often ideologically characterized as privileging equal opportunity, the everyday reality of the masses of black people is that of being peculiarly subordinate in almost every way, but this is especially true when they venture into essentially white spaces. (Clinton, Bill. “Racism in the United States).
People of color also often felt and knew that white people had more opportunity and took advantage of people of color. There still to this day is white privileged people, many might say that there is not but ask any person of color and 90% will say that there is. The U.S. Constitution does not mention race, in 1857, United States Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, Dred Scott v. Sandford, the case of a black man who sued for his freedom based on the fact that he was enslaved in a state that prohibited slavery. the highest court in the land ruled against an act of Congress for only the second time in history. The court basically decided that white people were so far superior to black people; the Constitution never intended to recognize them as citizens, or even humans and, as a consequence, black people had no legal standing to sue in court. The Dred Scott decision essentially codified white supremacy and even though the court has officially changed its opinion since 1857, America has not. (AJA, ALAN, et al. “From a Tangle of Pathology to a Race-Fair America.” Dissent (00123846), vol. 61, no. 3, Summer 2014, p. 39. EBSCOhost,). Following the civil rights movement, a “racial incorporation” process of the 1970s and 1980s was established, and along with “fair housing”, school integration, and “affirmative action, it benefited many black people . Many of these people have joined the larger American middle class, and they and their children have become increasingly assimilated. But this assimilation is essentially into what they know and perceived large numbers of black people continue to reside in segregated neighborhoods, and their children attend largely segregated schools. When venturing outside their local neighborhoods, particularly into spaces that are overwhelmingly white, they are often surveilled, and at times questioned, harassed, or occasionally arrested by the police as white space, which they often navigate haltingly, and essentially alone.
People who were escaped slavery had many long lasting side effects, people never take the time to look at everything, PTSD doesn’t just happen to people at war or who were in an accident, most escaped slaves had PTSD problems or they didn’t have any attachment to anyone due to them being alone their whole life. Living almost undercover till being safe was very scary for these people, not knowing what was coming next, mainly just going to go and take a risk, they knew if they didn’t make it to where they were one hundred percent truly free which was never a guarantee. Some had separation issues, if one of their family members got caught and shipped back to slavery, there companion might turn themself in too just to see and be with their other person just so they feel a little bit of sanity. “I knew Denver was going to get caught, and it was beloved telling me to go with her and try and save her, or at least follow her back to what I know I didn’t want, but I would do it, I would do it for my kid.” (Beloved, Toni Morrison 139.)
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