Effects Of Racial Prejudice The effects of racial prejudice and segregation aimed at African Americans in the south on their lives and opportunities were deep-seeded and long lasting. The effects of segregation were perhaps the most destructive because they were legal and above-board. These laws illustrated to the African American population that their struggle was not limited to battling the backward notions and violent actions of cowardly southern rednecks, but that they had to overcome the mentality and ideology of a national government and, in fact, an entire society, that was failing to recognize them as citizens worthy of the basic rights and freedoms to which they were entitled as Americans. Proper and equal education was probably the opportunity that was most blatantly infringed upon by segregation. This probably also dealt one of the most devastating blows to the Movement, simply because it occurred on such a fundamental level in such a critical stage. Young minds were taught at an early and impressionable age to accept unquestioningly separation and inequality between themselves and their white counterparts. The employment of primarily Uncle Tom principles and teachers was intended to insure that ideas of freedom and equality did not make their way into the classroom.
Education was only one of the many opportunities that blacks were not afforded because of white prejudice. Even after African Americans gained the right to vote, most were still kept from the polls through the use of threats, violence, and unfair polling and testing procedures and policies. This had the crippling effect of denying African Americans a voice in their future and that of their country. It further alienated them from society and made them feel, at best, like second-class citizens, at worst, like prisoners at the mercy of a cruel and inhumane mob. Other opportunities denied to blacks had an overwhelming and usually negative effect on their ability to make a living and support their families.
The job opportunities for whites simply did not exist for the black community. As a college educated black woman, Anne Moody’s only real career option was to become a teacher in a black school where she would be subject to the will and control of the Uncle Toms in charge. For uneducated blacks, a primary opportunity for self-sufficiency should have been agriculture. It was extremely difficult, however, for blacks to acquire land that was suitable for farming, and when they did, government regulation often kept them from growing as much as white farmers in the counties. These and other employment situations resulted in black communities of families that could barely support themselves.
Aside from the opportunities that were denied to African Americans, their day-to-day lives were affected constantly by the attitudes and actions fostered by prejudice. One of the most obvious and deliberate results was fear. Blacks often resisted the Movement for fear of their lives and that of their families. They were constantly forced into undesirable situations for fear of the white man’s power to deny them jobs or destroy their homes. Once fear was instilled in the blacks of a community, the whites were free to take advantage of them in multiple ways. They were rarely paid adequately for the work that they did and were often expected to perform tasks that put their health or lives in danger.
Their dependence on whites for income made them vulnerable to physical and mental abuse and often placed their feelings of self worth in serious jeopardy. This further weakened the Movement. When blacks felt that they really were somehow inferior to whites, they lost the passion and the drive that they needed to fight the system. This was a major problem for the older generations who had been closer to slavery and had long since accepted their role in society. Fear had a dual effect on African American relationships and attitudes toward one another. While it cause many to turn their backs on their brothers and sisters in the Movement, it prompted many others to unify in order to protect and strengthen one another. The latter effect was most evident in the youth, who had seen and heard so much more that made them question the current situation.
They had seen segregation challenged. They had heard the impassioned words of people like Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers. They knew that things were different in the north, where blacks had earned a far greater sense of respect, equality, accomplishment, and independence. The results of prejudice in their minds and hearts turned to rage, disgust, and desire. In this sense, the continued acts of prejudice by whites served to fuel the fire of the Movement. Under the thumb of a more benevolent white society, many African Americans may have been to content to have caused trouble.
If the whites had made a greater effort to keep the blacks out of poverty, many may have feared that an uprising would take away their financial security. As thing were, though, many felt that they had nothing to lose except the chains that had continued to bind them long since the Civil War had been won. For these reasons, the youth of the black communities became the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement. The volatile situation was a perfect example of the ways in which poverty, discontent, and social clash lead to uprising and revolt. The African Americans were a people in need of a leader.
Their empty stomachs and poorly clothed bodies opened their minds to new ideas and the possibility of change. The door had been opened, even if just a crack, for people like Anne Moody to begin planting the seeds of independence and justice. The more the whites resisted the Movement – the more they beat, killed, raped, ravaged, and burned; the more comforts they denied the blacks – the more anger and hostility built within the African Americans. Their leaders gained more power, and their protestors grew in strength and numbers. Anne Moody’s life was the embodiment of many of these situations, events, and emotions. She experienced poverty as a child while she watched her mother struggle to put food on the table.
She began earning her own pay at the age of ten, working as domestic help for local white women, being grossly underpaid for the work that she did. She attended black schools her whole life, knowing that white people her age were learning in better facilities from more qualified teachers. She knew fear as a young attractive girl growing up in a place where white offenders saw no consequences for their actions against blacks. She knew what it felt like to have nothing to lose. As she became deeply involved in the Movement, she not only feared almost daily for her own life, but was constantly worried about the well being of her family.
Perhaps most of all, she knew rage. She had felt the choking anger brought by watching young blacks beaten to near death in the streets. She knew the frustration of working within a system that Scontinued to oppress her people. She experience the despair of losing leaders like Medgar Evers and J.F.K., whose presence alone had held the promise of change. She felt the guilt and heartache of losing loved ones who had done no wrong and the anger of seeing justice unserved time and time again. Coming of Age in Mississippi defines an era and a people through the eyes of a girl who lived through it and overcame it.
It tells of her struggles, her triumphs, and her failures. Through her experiences and the experiences of those around her, it illustrates the impact of prejudice and discrimination on the African Americans of that period. History Essays.