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American Society Shaped by Violence

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Par   •  27 Novembre 2018  •  Dissertation  •  1 520 Mots (7 Pages)  •  275 Vues

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Neema Muderhwa

American Society Shaped by Violence

In its many forms, one can observe violence in the United States through its short but bloody history. These forms of violence in the United States occurred against African Americans, foreign lower class groups, and the working class within the U.S.. After the emancipation of the slaves in 1865, violence against black people never totally ended, even though slavery no longer existed. Racial segregation replaced it from 1877 to the 1960s. Whites disenfranchised black people through a series of laws, and after the Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, the notion of "separate but equal" was ingrained in the American South. The Civil Rights Movement challenged this social apartheid. In the world of work, violence was experienced in the many strikes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including the Homestead Steel Works in 1892. On an international scale, the United States used violence during the Philippine-American war from 1899-1902, with the deaths of more than 4,200 Americans and over 20,000 Filipinos. In addition, the United States used extreme violence during the Vietnam War. In order to understand the violent nature of America throughout its history, it is important to look at the violence directed from Americans toward African Americans, organized labor, and natives in U.S.-occupied territories.

Violence against African Americans represents a critical part of United States’ history. Following slavery, violence against African Americans continued on a different, but no less serious scale during the Jim Crow era. A major part of this violence was lynching, which whites intended to trigger fear. For instance, Sam Hose killed his boss as an act of legitimate self-defense, but the white community considered it premeditated murder. In addition he was accused of the rape of his owner’s wife. As a result, a white mob murdered Hose. Some of his body parts were cut off by the mob, starting with his ears (Goldstone 4). This is an example of the violence faced by African Americans in the South, without access to legal justice. A regular way of killing somebody is to shoot him, but here, we see violence on a higher, symbolic scale. White mobs wanted the victims to feel extreme pain before death. In addition, the violence was public. More than 2,000 people came to Coweta County to testify Sam Hose’s murder (Goldstone, 4). This was mostly to humiliate black people, to expose them. It was also a moment of pleasure for white people who came en masse to enjoy seeing a black person being killed. It was a festive moment for them and we see how they loved when violence was used against a black man. They also knew they would never face any legal repercussions. In her song “Strange Fruit,” Billie Holiday sang “Southern trees bear strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” The strange fruit in the text represents black people’s bodies hanging on the trees in the southern parts of the United States.

Another good example of white violence against blacks was the reality that white men raped black women without ramifications. The culture of white men raping black women was a culture of dehumanization. As an example, we can see the case of Claudette Colvin who, after being arrested because she refused to give her seat for a white person to sit down, she remembers the police officers talking about her breasts and bra size, she was afraid the police officers might rape her. Rapes on black women by white men was common in Montgomery, Alabama. When she is writing, McGuire says “deep history and day-to-day life in Montgomery gave her plenty of reasons to be afraid.” (McGuire, 86) We can clearly understand that raping women could happen everyday, and African American women should be afraid when they are in front of white men because they could be victims of rape. In addition, the rapes were easy for white men to do because, once they were far from the public, they could do whatever they wanted to Colvin without fear of punishment. (McGuire, 86) By raping black women, they wanted to spread fear and terror to the whole community. Going deeply to that, we can assume that raping women was not only to scare women but also men and kids, because they rapes mothers, wifes, and sisters of people. Not only did thy want to scare, but they also wanted to show how powerful white were in the society because such violences could not happen to a white woman without white people publicly expressing

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