Is it true that the path of freedom still has not been reached? Do you think that if black people did not exist, (people are all white) slavery will not exist? Or would there at least be no racial...

Is it true that the path of freedom still has not been reached? Do you think that if black people did not exist, (people are all white) slavery will not exist? Or would there at least be no racial discrimination?

Asked on by barbiedot

1 Answer | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are at least two distinct questions.  My answer to the first question is that we are on the “path of freedom” already, but that we are nowhere near to actually reaching the end of that path.  As to your other questions, I would say that both slavery and racial discrimination would have existed (and would still exist) even if all of the people in the world were “white.”

My answer to the first question depends a lot on what we mean by the “path of freedom.”  I would define that as a general trend in which we are becoming more and more free.  Using this definition, it is clear that we are on the path.  While we still have major racial problems in the United States, we are very much better off racially than we were 50 years ago, let alone 100 years ago.  100 years ago, large numbers of African Americans were being lynched and segregation was the law of the land in many states.  50 years ago, interracial marriage was still illegal in many states and discrimination in public accommodations had just been banned.  While recent events like the various incidents in which police have killed unarmed black men do show that we have problems, our problems are nowhere near as serious as they once were.  Therefore, I would say that we are on the path but still far from completing our journey on that path.

As for the second question, I do not think it is possible to argue that slavery and racial discrimination would not have existed if all people were white.  My first piece of evidence for this is the fact that slavery has existed in many times and places between people who we would say are the same race.  For example, the ancient Romans had slaves, most of whom we would have called “white.”  Many Roman slaves were from Gaul while others, like the famous gladiator and rebel Spartacus, were Greek.  Today, we would generally say that Italians, Greeks, and French people are all white.  This shows very clearly that people of the same race can enslave one another.  My second piece of evidence has to do with racial discrimination.  We know from our own history that white people can discriminate against other people that we see as white.  One example of this was the widespread discrimination against Irish people in the 1800s. This was a clear example of white people engaging in “racial” discrimination against other white people.

I would argue that human beings naturally tend to find ways to define other people as inferior and to (at times) justify enslaving those others.  This happens even when the people are all of the same “race” (as we define that term today).  However, my view (and I am nonwhite) is that we in the United States today are at least making progress in reducing our levels of racial animosity.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,979 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question