The Shadow of Hate The documentary remarks on the origins of race and how it has affected history and its people. There has been a history of intolerance in America against the “them”, the others. “Them”, being the different, the unknown. It is clear that people are afraid of the unknown because of the uncertainty it brings thus they immediately label anything different as “them”. The ultimate concept I was able to derive from the documentary was that race is an idea created by society to further certain people; whether it be on a political, social, or economical aspect.
The Shadow of Hate accounts the troubling relic embedded in our country, which is the overwhelming prejudice that has occurred in America for centuries. Quakers, Native Americans, and the Japanese-Americans are a few groups that have been significantly affected by whites’ obsession and preoccupation to remain “superior” to the rest, the “them”. The documentary even brings forth current tensions that cause rifts between our cities and communities.
I found alarming how Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s own Founding Fathers and the principal writer of the Declaration of Independence, owned slaves and wrote how the blacks were “inferior to the whites”. The man who wrote “All men are created equal”, was the man who lived by exactly the opposite of his own words. Learning of how the slave trade became popular in America only deepened my view of people’s skewed perception of blacks. Since matters in Europe were settling down, less Europeans felt the need to relocate to America where they would pay for their voyage through servitude.
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When the indentured servants from Europe became scarce, it caused a labor shortage therefore farmers turned to the Atlantic slave trade where they traded goods in return for slaves. Trading people for materials expresses their view of how slaves were merely “materials” needed for their farms. Slaves were not people, they were objects, and why? Because of their skin color. Something as shallow as a color has affected so much of our history. The same goes for the Native Americans. They were moved to and fro, in their own land.
They observed as their land was being taken away, not allowed to say anything. Those that did, were silenced. Americans took advantage of them by forcing them to assimilate and to become “civilized”. The Americans took away their cultural identity and rushed them into a culture completely unknown to them. I do find this to be one of the most tragic occurrence of prejudice in our nation. The Native Americans once had such a rich culture with unique clothes, music, and food; only for them to be stripped of them.
Most Native Americans cooperated with the Americans and converted to Christianity, earned an English education, and learn to farm. They began own land and some even owned slaves. This I find troubling because I feel this gave the Native Americans a false sense of superiority and not only that, but having a minority enslave a minority makes no moral sense in my view. Eventually, with Jefferson’s support, the Native Americans assimilated and little by little, signed away their land until they were left with practically nothing (gave away over 90% of their land).
The Native Americans very much tried to become part of the American culture, yet they were once again relocated as dictated by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. A quarter of them died on the journey alone in 1838. This is why I also find the Native Americans’ history of prejudice so disheartening– because they attempted to assimilate into American culture, and they did, yet they were once again abused and forced to move from their own land again. The other examples of prejudice such as when the Mexican soldier to served in the U.
S. army was not allowed a proper burial at first, foreshadowed the next few decades of prejudice America would experience. I gained a lot from the film, learning of how warped people’s views were of blacks and other races. Educated scientists such as Agassiz, Morton, and Nott all agreed that any race that was not white, was inferior. Agassiz and other scientists even pooled together all research to conclude that blacks were a different species in “Types of Mankind”.
It is alarming that educated scholars once processed information this way and truly believed they were correct. It is dangerous when educated people believe they are correct on anything and then publish because many people will read their work and believe that the writer/researcher must be correct because he/she is educated. Skin color was not the only aspect Americans based their racism upon, religion also took an important role in our country’s history with prejudice. Leo Frank was subjected to peoples’ hatred because of his religion.
I find that the song stated in the documentary reflects how casually people, even children, expressed their hatred. Even at a young age, children learn a lot from their surroundings and they would objectify people based on their religion. “Little Mary Phagan went to work one day, little did she know the Jew would take her life away” was the song little kids would sing to as they danced in a circle and played around. I feel that this reflects how casually dominant prejudice appeared in society at the time.
The fact alone that whites invented this “White Mans Burden” reflects their obsession with believing they are superior. An extra ego-booster for them was when they took control of Guam, Mexico and the Philippines after their victory against Spain in 1898. They felt that it was just another opportunity for them to tell other people of other cultures what to do, how to dress, how to speak, what to believe etc. America emerged as the most prosperous country and most powerful empire in the world at the 20th century, once again, reinforcing their preoccupation with superiority.
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