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Racial Inequality

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Racial Inequality

Colonialism, imperialism, capitalism these are all terms that cannot be separated from the systematic exploitation of groups of people for the exclusive purpose of extracting wealth, land and cheap labor from a group of people for the increased profits of foreign capitalists. This is achieved by undermining the laborers ability to access resources, as well as the ability to sell and retain fair value for their labor through the mechanisms of citizenship and later racism.

The displacement of the British peasantry by the British nobility and the experiences of Native Americans in colonial America are very similar. The British peasant’s occupied land adjacent to that of the nobility, the land was communally used and the peasants were free to use it for agriculture and hunting in exchange for small taxes that supported the lavish lifestyle of the nobility. As the noblemen’s happiness with consuming failed to be enough and his greed grew they devised new ways of creating wealth, mainly through privatizing land to allow the owning of livestock. To own livestock large amounts of land were needed the land that was currently occupied by the peasants. The nobility essentially expelled the peasants from their land and moved in animals so that they could maximize profits. The European peasants were forced to occupy undesirable land that had little value for growing crops or for raising animals. The community lifestyle of the peasants was also diminished by privatization, now things were not shared but owned by individuals and people were less likely to share because more people were living below subsistence needs. In an effort to rationalize this new situation the lords offered the peasants citizenship which granted them access to sell their labor for a wage in the market. Of course the exploitation of the peasants continued by forcing the peasants to work for a less than adequate wage or starve (Philion, lecture).

The American colonizers essentially behaved the same way toward Native Americans as the European nobles did toward the European peasants. Though, the domination of the peasants was through citizenship, which gave peasants rights but also required them to be wage workers. This is much different from the justification for the American colonizers exploitation of the Native Americans, which was racism. Native Americans were unfit to be wage workers and citizenship would not work as an effective means of control. The Europeans had come to the new world is hopes of creating new wealth; they could make new wealth by working and owning the land. Unfortunately there were already people occupying the land they wanted (Nabakov, 263). The Native Americans were much like the European peasants, the lived with community, family, and shared access to the land. This was the driving force in both of their cultures. The natives had no concept ownership and surely no concept of selling their labor for profits, they already had what they needed and what they didn’t have community provided.

Because the native peoples of America were unwilling or “unfit” to participate in the ideologies of capitalism they were viewed by the colonizers as obstacles and holding back the progress. Something needed to be done to remove the Indians from the land so that the land could be more fully exploited by the hand of capitalism for personal gain. The most effective way to control a group of people is to undermine their rights as people; the colonizers used racism to achieve this goal. The Native Americans were depicted as being biologically or inherently inferior to European white settlers, their differing ideologies and cultures were used as support for these claims. This inferiority justified the expulsion of the Native Americans from their homeland into reservations.

Now that the Native Americans have been stripped of their land and separated from capitalist society in reservations they are expected to perform and progress. There is a major conflict of interest between the Indian nation and the European settlements. The Native Americans are limited by their cultural beliefs and find it difficult to participate in wage labor “the opportunities for work on the reservation continue to appear more limited than the opportunities off the reservation” (Pickering, 18). The ones who do choose to participate are both discriminated against by the whites as well as stigmatized by this own culture because they have abandoned their cultural beliefs and not acted in his tribes or families best interests. At the same time the whites look at the Indians who stay on the reservation and nurture community, as lazy and unproductive only furthering racial tensions. The Native Americans lacked skills needed to obtain well paying jobs and no system of education was in place “the imposition of a negative social identity ultimately restricts Lakotas to limited wage work opportunities…unemployment in the reservation

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