Inequality, a growing situation for most blacks, is not only influenced by racism, but is primarily caused by structural and economic forces as a result of class. Today’s inequality, chiefly the result of structural and economic forces, has been paved through a history of racial discrimination creating badly paid and poorly educated blacks. The steady decline of racism during the de-industrialization period, led to a growing success of the black middle class and an increase of poverty in the black lower classes. The growing success of the black middle class resulted in relocation from the inner cities to the suburbs unintentionally resulting in worse living conditions for the black lower classes. In order to understand the changing patterns of racism, it is imperative to look at past black living conditions in America.
During the Pre-Industrial period, the economics directly caused a paternal type of racial exclusion. Between 1659 and 1890, most blacks worked on farms. Even after slavery, during the reconstruction period between 1870 and 1890, black people were still needed in the south for agricultural labor. According to Wilson, the white south made sure that the black worker during this time had no option but agricultural work. By creating racial exclusion, work options for blacks became limited. This Marxist view proved that capitalism promoted racism in interest of profit. Despite the large amount of segregation, the racism towards the blacks was mostly paternalistic, or non-hostile. The whites believed that blacks lacked intelligence and thus their racial exclusion seemed to be justified. In the white’s minds, hostility towards blacks was unnecessary because the blacks were non-threatening and the economy depended on them, until the Industrial Period. (Stokes)
The Industrial Period changed racism from paternalistic to antagonistic, because of the competition of jobs between two groups with different wage levels, whites and blacks. Between 1890 and 1950, great improvements in machinery resulted in a labor saving economy resulting in less blacks being needed on southern plantations. Millions of blacks were not needed and became an economic liability causing more than forty percent to shift towards the cities in the Northeast and Midwest in search of jobs. Because the white workers were involved in the World Wars, blacks were needed for industries. When the whites returned from the wars, the first competition for similar jobs between the two races occurred. Many industries often tried to get rid of white workers because the blacks would work for a lot less. As result of this competition, whites began to use power to fend off the competition. They recreated a system of segregation from competing with poor black workers and thus influenced exclusion once again at another level. (Stokes)
The paternalistic racism of the past shifted to an antagonistic form and as a result lynching became the greatest part of American culture. Between the 1920s and late 1940s violence intensified as a result of antagonistic racism. Once again, the economic interests of the whites promoted racial exclusion. Black men were considered to be dangerous in an unconscious competitive sort of way, but consciously as immoral beings. This different kind of racism paved the way for a structural trap of the lower classes of African Americans. (Stokes)
After 1950, during the Post-Industrial period, there was an extreme decline of white racism resulting in hoped improvements for black workers. The Civil Rights Movement greatly contributed to the decline of white racism. A sense of shame among whites resulted in this significant decline. As a result, affirmative action came into to play in hopes to increase job openings for blacks in fear of racism. These changes created great opportunities for blacks, especially the middle class.
The period following the Civil Rights Movement created great opportunities for success among the black middle class, but unfortunately, as a result of de-industrialization, resulted in an increase in poverty among the black lower classes. Throughout the history of blacks in America, there has always been a certain amount of black middle class, doctors, dentists, and etc., which were cut off from the white middle class because they dealt solely with blacks. The middle class and their children benefited the most from the Civil Right’s Movement. They were finally able to work with whites and gain better prosperity. To a lesser extent, black industrial workers gained a little more openings