African Americans went through a very difficult period which lasted for them for hundreds of years. The way they were treated by the majority of white people was disrespectful, humiliating, and mean. Nonetheless, a certain group of African Americans was considered to be free of actual slavery. They were called indentured people and mainly worked in the plantations as well as enslaved African Americans with the only exception that they were paid money for their hard work. An interesting fact is that they were able to live on their own after three years of working term at the plantation; some of them remained at the plantation to continue their work there. They were supposed to become as free as white people, and have the same rights. In spite of this, they never became really free, at least in my opinion.
The Civil Rights Movement and the case of Brown v. Board of Education helped a lot to eliminate the borders between African Americans and white Americans, however, even today one can encounter a certain discriminating attitude which is not legal. The biases and stereotypes seem to be so deeply enrooted in the heads of the white people that they sometimes erase any common sense and reasonable, logical thinking making people more like animals that are ruled completely by their instincts. Unfortunately, the strongest impact talks about segregation/discrimination have on children, as they are very susceptible to new information and are prone to trust anyone on anything. Brown v. Board of Education case gave the black pupils an opportunity to study together with the white ones in public schools, however, it does not mean that the won case protected children from the negative influence which only undermines their self-esteem and makes them feel as secondary people in society – the outcasts.
When do you think, the real freedom can start? For me, it starts not only when I have your own means of existence but first of all when I feel free – not because I can buy what I want or go where I want, but because something inside me is proud of who I am, it gives me strength to go on and do what I like, it shows me the beauty of the surrounding world, the smiles and kind words of the people around me. In any place I go, I can feel that I am in the right place, that even if something negative happens, there will be always someone who will help, support and understand my predicament. My freedom starts from the realization of my own power, my love for life, the pleasure I take in each day, each moment of my short life.
African Americans could not feel such freedom in the society where they were not even accepted for people. For example, even after the obtained freedoms or equal education, employment, and entertainment possibilities, African Americans were still treated as the lowest class of society possible, and were not let into main institutions (restaurants, prestigious educational institutions, clubs, etc.) because their presence there meant the low quality of the place and other people were repulsed to visit it afterwards. Those times are long gone, but we still hear everywhere offensive names that substitute a proud ‘African American’.
On the other hand, African Americans proved to be faithful to their essence, to that so craved-for freedom. Their struggle inspired many other minorities to fight for their own rights and win the place under the sun. Mexican Americans were in similar positions to the African Americans – their children also had to visit separate from the white public schools, however, they managed to promote the rights and obtain equality, at least constitutional. 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause gave them as well as Chinese Americans a chance to have good higher education as well as be equally treated in the society. I do not want to raise the ever-lasting and so painful debate over the minority discrimination in our country, but our people appear to be egocentric, selfish, narrow-minded, and totally illogical when it comes to the civil rights – we want equality but at the same time we behave as hungry predators who cannot see anything else but the blood the spills over our eyes at the sight of prey. Until we learn to respect each human being of any color, any shape, and any mentality, we cannot be called the leading country of the world as we behave no better as the degrading creatures that are meant to extinct.