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Essay The Costs of Racism

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The Costs of Racism

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Racism is one of the deepest stains on the pages of American history. What began as feelings among whites of being superior to blacks turned into possibly the worst phenomenon the United States ever dealt with. Even 100 years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, many white people were still treating blacks atrociously. It took many decades before blacks were granted truly equal rights that white Americans were given. In Anne Moody’s autobiography, Coming of Age in
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It wasn’t until she was in her twenties that she realized the future of civil rights was in the hands of the young.

The effects of racism on the victims also depended on gender. Moody makes this point clear when Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old boy from a nearby town, was murdered for supposedly having sex with a white woman. “…every Negro man in Centreville became afraid to walk the streets. They knew too well that they would not get off as easily as the white man who was caught screwing a Negro woman. They had only to look at a white woman and be hanged for it.” (p. 131). Moody makes the connection that a black girl could get away with having sex with a white man, but if it was a black man having sex with a white woman, then it was a crime punishable by death. It was the same with anything else as well; black men were treated more violently than black women when it came to doing something the whites did not approve of.

For those who practiced racism, the effects of racism were detrimental as well. Racist viewpoints were taught to white children at very young ages, and this caused them to grow up hating blacks. This caused black parents to instill fear of white people in their own children, and made them become racist as well. Racism among whites usually varied on social status, however. Wealthier whites tended to be more racist than those in the lower class. On the contrary,
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