The idea of racism being an opinion is a misunderstanding of what Racism is. In fact, the opposition to the idea that racism exists and is a part of our country is deeply seeded in ignorance. This is because we do not teach the true history and origins of our country. As the old adage goes; History is written by the victors.
Prejudice and bias are age-old practices within human beings and cultures that have been with us since our human beginnings. In many respects, these have been tools that have kept us alive and safe. We might use our sense of prejudice to deduce a sick individual within our tribal communities or to weed out a potential threat from an outside force that we have had a violent experience with before. Bias can serve us and be a tool of discernment.
In our modern setting, where education and media are massive tools for the social indoctrination of individuals, our innate abilities to be biased and prejudice can also be harmful to others. Thus, it requires the individual to be self-aware enough to question what they have learned and sought out better information on their own, which is what a life long practice of reading challenging material or higher education helps us to achieve.
What we are biased and prejudiced against is taught. It can be taught through experiences, such as the experience of gathering and eating poisonous berries and feeding them to your tribe. You will learn a prejudice that will be passed down from generations to stay away from those berries. However, in a highly complex society, those same innate human traits can be generationally focused to falsely cause harm through the education and indoctrination of ignorant and hateful ideas.
This is where Racism comes into the picture. Racism begins with the construction of race; a deliberate and purposeful evolution of ideas for how to think about European idealism and supremacy that fostered from the 15th - 18th centuries. As written materials were beginning to be widely distributed through the invention of the printing press (1440 A.D.), new concepts were beginning to circulate in science and religion.
The Linnaean System (1735) became our methodology to organize organisms into a hierarchical classification: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Notice race is not included in this. The concept of race is usually attributed to Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in his work Decas craniorum (1790). However, the concept had been rolling around Europe for the better part of 3 centuries and was really given definition when The Age of Enlightenment began to take shape.
It was during this period in European History that two major social movements began to clash: First, European countries such as Spain and Portugal were engaged in the subjugation, genocide, and enslavement of indigenous peoples in the new world and northwest Africa. The wealth generated from these endeavors began to create a class of individuals within European society that had the time to contemplate and write on the noble endeavors of man’s inalienable rights.
Indeed, It was the conflict between the Enlightenment ideals of universal freedom and equality versus the fact of the European enslavement of Africans and indigenous Americans that fostered the development of the idea of race (Blum 2002, 111–112; Hannaford 1996, 149–150). - A Quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Race
It is at this point in history that the first British Colonies in North American begin to take form. There were two: One in Massachusetts and the other in Virginia. These were capitalistic ventures funded by investors with the sanction of the crown. Due to the extremely harsh conditions and difficult start-up, the crown would completely take them over. If you were headed to the new world and to one of these colonies, you were either an investor, a paid laborer with entitlements to land ownership or an indentured service.
In 1619, a Portuguese merchant ship brought the first African’s to the shores of the Virginia Colony. These individuals were also considered indentured servants and from 1604 - 1690, indentured workers had a prearranged amount of time to pay their passage and earn their right to freedom. However, as you can imagine, a human being might not enjoy any form of enslavement and would rebel against it. So, it was in 1661, that the laws began to change.
It is here in the Virginia Colonial Law, that the words “black” and “white” are first used to define the races. White indentured servants could still serve out their contracts with assurances for good behavior. This practice would completely end in 1690. However, black indentured servants would now be classified under a yoke of chattel slavery and become the permanent property of other human beings for the rest of their lives.
This is the birth of Racism in America. It is in the very founding of our nation and would go on to be further defined through the centuries. It continued with the removal of entire sections from the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence that explicitly declared our enlightened inalienable rights must someday encompass this nation's enslaved peoples. It was reinforced by the Supreme Court's repeated decisions in the early 20th century to uphold "whiteness" as the only means towards citizenship and land ownership: Twice.
In 1964, 100 years after the U.S. Civil War, congress would go on to enact the Civil Rights Act. This would be the legal conclusion to ratifying Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1864 and a response to 100 years of brutal bigotry and systemic oppression of black American’s throughout the United States. It would be added too and amended through the following decades. What becomes clear in the wake of the Civil Rights Act is that laws can be used to uphold a lawful society but it cannot change the hearts and minds of its citizens. In the years since this act was made law, we still live under the foundational principles of race and racism.
It is at this point in history that the first British Colonies in North American begin to take form. There were two: One in Massachusetts and the other in Virginia. These were capitalistic ventures funded by investors with the sanction of the crown. Due to the extremely harsh conditions and difficult start-up, the crown would completely take them over. If you were headed to the new world and to one of these colonies, you were either an investor, a paid laborer with entitlements to land ownership, or