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The Effects Of European Settlers’ Ideology On Modern Society

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The United States of America was a country founded on the basic belief that European ideals and white-centrism were the only ideologies worthy of bringing to the New World. So of course, these beliefs set the stage for centuries of racial tension that led to what one would consider to be the biggest stains on American Democracy like Japanese internment camps, segregation, assimilation and genocidal acts that continue in this country to present days. When the Spanish along with Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the Caribbean Islands in the 15th Century there had already began the radicalization and eradication of indigenous populations that would include the eight million deaths of indigenous populations in the New World. Forcing assimilation or death as well as forced migration and slavery was only the beginning to the radical world in which indigenous people. It could be said that these issues seem to be more prevalent today than ever.

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We can see the effects of European settlers’ ideology in our own backyard. Through the process of dehumanizing indigenous, black population and non-white people, European settlers were able to construct the idea of race that created racist representations, policies, and structures. Africans bore the long-lasting effects of European colonization. African slaves were stripped of their freedom and owned like chattel. Because they were African, and their skin was black their entire being was racialized. The slavery structure put them at the bottom of the food chain.

At first there was no distinction between indentured servants and African slaves, until there was a shift which allowed for white servants to be able to pay of their debts. More and more the population of African slaves increased. To justify slavery European settlers portrayed black peoples as savages and uninformed people who need guidance. Often poor whites were comforted by the fact that they were not black, they may be poor but at least they are not black. Theses ideals still carry on today. Black people were as still are dehumanized, they were brought to America as cargo. They were packed in a ship like sardines awaiting their life as a slave in a completely new environment. As Stephanie Smallwood states in Turning African Captives into Atlantic Commodities, “in negotiating the narrow isthmus between illness and recovery, death and survival, mental coherence and insanity, captives provided the answer to the slave traders needed: the African revealed the boundaries of the middle ground between life and death where human commodification was possible”.

Slave traders were basically playing a game on how far is too far. They broke Africans just enough to make them slaves while still profiting off of their labor. European settlers tactics to dehumanize African slaves through human deprivation. “Through trial and error of experiment and observation, European traders determined what Constituted a prison that was ‘too crowded’, or shackles that causes too much discomfort … and finding the limits of human capacity for suffering without extinguishing the life within”. Through the act of dehumanization, stripped of kinship ties, dignity, and sense of self-worth, European settlers were able to control Africans and create policies that serve the white man’s needs. Asians who were “coerced into migrating to and working in the Caribbean” where called coolies. Asians were another form of cheap labor that white people used. They are people who came to the Americans to work and were subjected to work in harsh conditions while being rested horrible because of their race. They were arguments to define if Asians would fall under being white or black. They were not considered to be people but simply a free labor worker. Jug explains how it was “a slippery and disruptive creation between and beyond slavery and freedom, black and white – rendered coolies pivotal in the reconstruction of racial and national boundaries and hierarchies in the age of emancipation”. They were looked for during this time where African slaves were no longer omnipresent in American society. They bordered between being free and being slaves which cause a mass demand for Asian migrant laborers as well as appeals for their exclusion.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers into the United States. This act set a presidence in policies of exclusion into the country based on race. Today we still see these policies that go back to 1882. For example the Muslim Ban, was created to keep certain people away because of the negative connotations attached to them. Because of the creation of race and the idea of who is and who is not allowed to be in the United States, there are issues that are still present in today’s society. In a society in which European settlers found land that was already occupied, killed for and took the land only to turn around and deny people citizenship to the country.

Who is considered a citizenship?

Slaves were not given citizenship after they were freed. They were still seen as outsiders who could not be part of that society. Mexican people today, are at the center of who gets to be a citizenship. Back in the 1920s “Mexicans escaped much of this targeting of immigrants … they immigrated in smaller number, mainly to the Southwest, and a large number were sojourner laborers who worked for a season and then resorted home to Mexico. This meant that they did not tend to settle down, join unions, naturalise or vote”. Mexican laborers were not a threat because they came in to work for cheap and returned to their home. Policies preventing other people from coming to the United States had been pt in place however, none had been made against the Western Hemisphere. It was to their advantage to drain these laboroes for work and not have to deal with them staying and wanting to be part of America. Molina explains how a key way that the problem of Mexican immigration was to racialize Mexicans. They were compared to other racialized groups so that they would look “undesirable”. Before they were able to work and go home however, as time passed they were seen as being a problem to the integrity of the United States. As Molina states, white American saw Mexicans as the “Negro problem” of the Southwest. Not only does this highlight how whites see black people as being at the bottom of the food chain but dehumanizes Mexicans as being nothing but a problem that they have to fix.

Clearly, European settlers dehumanized non-whites into race categories to control and profit off of them. Black people were shipped to the Americas for slave labor. Their culture, family and self worth was taken away from them. They became nothing more than a commodity that can be bought and sold at any moment.

18 May 2020

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