Argumentative essay Topic: Histories of Racism and Challenges to It

I.  Histories of Racism and Challenges to It

Between 1861 and 1900, how did particular economic and political circumstances aggravate white racism while other circumstances, in the words of Charles Postel, “opened cracks in the walls of racial oppression”?  When and where in the United States during these years did historical developments deepen particular forms of denigration, exclusion, and violence?  When and where did they create new possibilities for African Americans, Chinese immigrants, Mexican Americans, or Native Americans to pursue their own welfare and the welfare of their families and communities without persistent forms of white racism limiting them?  (You might also consider the relevance of racism in the lives of Southern and Eastern European immigrants.)

To answer this question, consider what you have learned about the history of racism not only as an individual attitude, but also as a set of institutional arrangements and a system of oppression. Also keep in mind the specificities of racism as it targeted different groups in different ways, as it varied from one place to another, and as it changed over time.

Identify at least two times and places, and at least two sets of circumstances, that shaped racism and challenges to it.  Develop your understanding of the particulars of your two leading examples using a range of readings, including both primary and secondary sources.  Once you have a good understanding of this material, devise a single, coherent argument that answers the question and write an essay using your two leading examples as evidence in support of your argument.  Incorporate other related material where appropriate for your argument and to the extent that it fits within the length limitations for this essay.

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