Sociology 2105A/B Lecture Notes - Cuban Americans, Emancipation Proclamation, Model Minority

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1 Feb 2013
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Racial Minorities in the US
Native Americans
- Native Americans are believed to have migrated to North America from Asia 10,000 to 35,000 years
prior to white settlers.
- Although they were perceived as homogenous and grouped together as “Indians,” they are a culturally
diverse group of over 500 tribes, including the Inuit (Eskimos), Cherokee, Navaho, Chippewa, and Sioux.
- As a result of diseases brought by the Europeans, forced migrations, and genocide, the 2 million native
inhabitants of North America in 1492 (the arrival of Columbus) were reduced to 240,000 by 1900.
- White settlers viewed the Native Americans as biologically and morally inferior and labeled them as
uncivilized “savages” and “heathens” in order to justify their genocide, forced migration, and forced
assimilation.
- White immigrants took control of Indian land through battles and bogus treaties. The treaties with the
federal government promised adequate housing, schooling, and health carebut none have been
adequately implemented.
- Entire nations were forced to moved in order to accommodate the white settlers. The “Trail of Tears”
was one of the most disastrous of the forced migrations. In the coldest part of the winter of 1832, over
half the Cherokee Nation died during or as a result of their forced relocation from the southeastern
United States to an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma.
- Life on the reservations is characterized by high rates of poverty, unemployment, suicide, alcoholism,
domestic problems, and high drop-out rates in school. About 1/3 of Native Americans live on
reservations today.
African Americans
- The experience of African Americans has been uniquely marked by slavery, segregation, and
discrimination.
- Between 1619 and the 1860s, about 500,000 Africans were forcibly brought to North America,
primarily to work on southern plantations, and these actions were justified by the devaluation and
stereotyping of African Americans. Under the master-servant relationship, slaves were viewed as
children or “subhuman” and were denied access to learning/acquisition of skills.
- Slavery was abolished in 1863 (after more than 200 years) by the Emancipation Proclamation. Freed
slaves soon faced prejudice and discrimination under the Jim Crow Laws, which assured that blacks were
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