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Course Project

Mateo Ramos

Rasmussen College

Author Note

This paper is being submitted on January 26, 2018 for Kathryn Chiplis G142 Section 03

Introduction to Sociology
African Americans in this country have been affected negatively for decades, and

it is still prevalent today. A way their lives have improved in the last 150 years

exponentially is the abolishinary movement for slavery. In American society, this has

changed the country since it was put into effects over 150 years ago. The world is a

much different place because of this. If this never occurred it would be unimaginable for

African Americans to be such important and prominent parts of society that they hold

today. People of color all across the board are able to have equal liberties because of

this movement along with the many sacrifices that were made all those years ago. The

lesson that is hoped to be learned from the 13th amendment is just how much of an

impact it has had on the american society and psyche since its inception and when it

was ratified in 1865. One major sociological theory that will be observed in this paper is

Conflict theory​​. Conflict theory is “ ​a state of perpetual conflict due to competition for

limited resources. It holds that social order is maintained by domination and power,

rather than consensus and conformity...those with wealth and power try to hold on to it

by any means possible, chiefly by suppressing the poor and powerless.”(​Staff, I. 2016,)

Conflict theory can be easily seen in the pre civil war era. This was the time when

slavery was legal and millions of people were forced into hard manual labor for next to

nothing. To talk about this, it has to be explained how conflict theory was seen in

slavery. After Bacon’ rebellion happened in 1676 the Virginian government had “​ began

to make legal distinctions between “white” and “black” inhabitants. By permanently

enslaving Virginians of African descent and giving poor white indentured servants and

farmers some new rights and status, they hoped to separate the two groups and make it
less likely that they would unite again in rebellion.” (Breitman,2016) This is a perfect

example of what conflict theory is, by a more powerful class dividing and saying one

class is better than the other. This shaped slavery as we know it today and racism. Up

until that point, people were just European and non European, but after this and slave

codes were set into motion, People that came from Europe that were caucasian started

“ Many of the European-descended poor whites began to identify themselves, if not

directly with the rich whites, certainly with being white. And here you get the emergence

of this idea of a white race as a way to distinguish themselves from those dark-skinned

people who they associate with perpetual slavery.” (Kelly,2002) Poorer white people

wanted to be similar or rich like the powerful white people in the class above them which

is why they did this. They hoped to be seen as a better class which is a term called

vertical mobility​​.

Black people in the south were predominantly slaves. They had two legs, the

means to escape, and reason to escape. So why wouldn’t they? Many did, in fact over

100,000 did so via the underground railroad between 1800-1865. (Myths of the

Underground Railroad. (n.d.).) Only a couple hundred thousand slaves tried to escape

out of a population of approximately 4,000,000 (Census Data. (n.d.).)because of conflict

theory. There were low fences and roads that slaves could take to escape, but they

chose not to because they thought they were the lower social class and had not been

taught any basic skills because their only purpose was to work manual labor. It is similar

to a stockholm syndrome type situation, a means of escape is in front of the person but

they feel they shouldn’t escape.


The abolishment of slavery came with a price that cost the lives of 620,000

Americans.(McPherson,2010) Many northerners at the time did not want to fight for the

freedom of black people because of ​symbolic theory. ​Symbolic theory is “The

importance of the symbolic interaction theory is that it shapes how people define

situations, self, and others “(Clausen, J. A. 1986). Northerners, although a majority did

not own a slave themselves, they thought they shouldn’t have to potentially die over a

person they thought and had been told to them their entire lives up until that point were

a lower class or were even people at all. An example would be a boy who is white that

is 8 years old playing with another 8 year old who happens to be black by themselves.

The caucasian boy’s mother comes and hurries and takes away her son because he is

playing with an african american kid. The next day the kid comes back and tells the

black kid he can’t play with him because he a negro. The kid had no reason not to like

him, he was just like he was but a different color. His mom and or dad told the white kid

playing with the black kid was bad.

The ​functionalist theory​​ plays into african american and the abolishment of

slavery because after the civil war ended, black people were disporotiaonly arrested

and other things that were borderline slavery took place which is why the South after the

civil war became occupied by Union soldiers to oversee the transition to non slavery

ways. (Assistant, E., & Calvert, J. A. (n.d.)Even in the 21st century, black people are

arrested at an alarming rate because they make up only 13% of the

population(QuickFacts. (n.d.). but are subjugated to being 34% of the population

inhabiting the prison system currently in the U.S.(Criminal Justice Fact Sheet. (n.d.).
Symbolic theory and functionalist theory are combined to make one which makes for a

terrible situation. Functionalist theory states “ Durkheim alleged that if we didn't have

deviants, we would create them because we need them” (Wexler, P. (2009). For society

to continue as it is, it needs a deviant, or a scapegoat to blame everything and single

that group out to continue, In Germany during WWII it was Jews (holocaust), after the

Ottoman Empire lost WWI they blamed the Armenians (Armenian genocide) In Rwanda,

the Hutu controlled government blamed the Tutsis (Rwandan genocide) During the

Cambodia , the Khmer Rouge blamed the U.S and smart and educated people in the

country (Cambodian genocide) and in america the scapegoat is black people, (the

american incarceration system) The list goes on, for one to succeed and be good

people have to rally around a common enemy, black people in america are not seen as

enemies and as other deviants were seen in those examples listed before in such hate,

but it's more of a frown upon type situation. An example would be a for a person to think

what would happen to them if a African American person wearing a hoodie was walking

down the street. An article written by Amber Elliot explained how a black woman who

lived in a upscale neighborhood wearing a hoodie and headphones walking to her home

had come to the attention of the police.”​Still, there was no mistaking the pulsating

red-and-blue emergency bulbs that startled Montana and me as the patrol car flew past

– now for a third lap... But in a dark gray h​oodie and headphones, one block from my

home, I become a person of interest.”(Elliott, A. 2017,)

The american people have come a long way since the the end of the civil war

and the 13th, and 14th amendment were made into law over 150 years ago. There are
still very prevalent problems on how African-American people are treated and are for

good reason. They are still arrested, stopped and shot by police, far greater than any

other race/ethnicity in this country. What is hoped to be learned after reading this paper

is how people can come together to overcome this, as they did all those years ago.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new

nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created

equal.” Basler, R. P. (n.d.). Abraham Lincoln delivered that speech on November 19,

1863 to emancipate a group of approximately 4,000,000 people that had been slaves

since the first ship brought them to Jamestown in 1619. They had come so far to finally

be free and not be owned by another person. “All men are created equal, but they are

not treated equal”-Mateo Ramos 2018.


References

Staff, I. (2016, February 13). Conflict Theory. Retrieved January 25, 2018, from

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/conflict-theory.asp

Breitman, R. D. (2017, Winter). Inventing Black and White. Retrieved January 26, 2018,

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https://www.facinghistory.org/holocaust-and-human-behavior/chapter-2/inventing-black-

and-white

Kelly, R. D. (02, January 1). RACE-THE POWER OF AN ILLUSION. Retrieved January

26, 2018, from ​http://newsreel.org/transcripts/race2.htm

Myths of the Underground Railroad. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2018, from

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/underground_railroad/myths.htm

Census Data. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2018, from

http://www.civil-war.net/census.asp?census=Total
McPherson, J. M. (2010, Spring). Out of War, a New Nation. Retrieved October 16,

2017, from ​https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2010/spring/newnation.html

QuickFacts. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2018, from

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045216

Criminal Justice Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2018, from

http://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/

Assistant, E., & Calvert, J. A. (n.d.). The Occupation of the South. Retrieved January 26, 2018,

from ​https://www.armyheritage.org/75-information/soldier-stories/341-southernoccupation

Elliott, A. (2017, June 22). Why a black woman can't wear a hoodie in Upper Kirby. Retrieved

January 26, 2018, from

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Fashion-police-it-s-what-s-under-the

-hoodie-11225331.php

Basler, R. P. (n.d.). The Gettysburg Address. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm

Books
Clausen, J. A. (1986). ​The life course: a sociological perspective​ (1st ed.). Retrieved

January 26, 2018.

Wexler, P. (2009). ​Social theory in education primer.​ Retrieved January 26, 2018.