Implication of the Amendments Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 4
  • Subject: Black Studies
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #15532034

Excerpt from Essay :

Constitutional Amendments

Effective strategies after the 13th and 14th amendments

The 13th amendment to the constitution was widely welcome by many Americans and the world at large as it gave the surety of freedom from slavery in the legal standing of it. The most famous and important section of the Declaration of Independence read that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." This was an assurance that the freedom of each person living in America would be guaranteed and that no person will live under the command or control of another person due to the race or color. Further, the 14th amendment came into place to entrench and ensure the equality among the Americans (Hole R., 2001). It was one of the main measures taken during the reconstruction period after the Civil war with the aim of ensuring equality before the law of the blacks and whites and any person born or naturalized within the American community. It was aimed at providing rights to citizens in general and equality to all. The proclamation also granted the free representation of the hitherto slaves in the congress in a fair and free election just like the whites who were not slaves would have access to the congress representation there before and after the proclamation (National Archives & Records Administration, 2011).

There a number of deprivations that the blacks suffered and were noted by several social activists like Frederick Douglass. The first and most common kind of deprivation and mistreatment was physical abuse of the blacks to the extent of death in the hands of the white masters, yet no measure was taken to rectify this. The physical abuse deflated the confidence of the slaves and left them with major injuries that would leave them unable to sustain themselves.

The slavery conditions also presented the slaves with dehumanizing effects of the slavery as it separated the families that would rather live together, they lacked human necessities such as clothing and food, even in events that these were given, it had to be at the exchange of work in the fields irrespective of the age. There was totally a rift between the living conditions of the masters and the living conditions that was among the salves, they were deprived of a lot in order not to match the masters.

The other significant deprivation was experienced in the educational needs. Slaves were generally not allowed to have an education. Many slaves strived to have access to education with the feeling that this would be the weapon that would make them unfit to be slaves. They saw education as the only way to try to be equal to the master hence become unmanageable and be set free. There was no easy access to education that was given to the slaves though and their quest for school education or private schooling was thwarted repeatedly.

The slaves were also deprived of human dignity and were made to believe that they were lesser humans within the society. Their dignity was watered down through denial of opportunities to express themselves and even the ability to present their please before any meaningful justice system. They were not accorded the comfort of the laws that were in place and were deprived ownership of any meaningful property that would see them get out of poverty, hence subjecting them to constant poverty, dependency on the master and living undignified life throughout.

The slaves were also deprived of any rights for representation in the government branches. They never had their representatives who would argue out their course and chart a legal path that would see them prosper in life and also get a legal protection. The congress never had any slot for the representative of the slaves hence left them out totally on matters to do with legislation and policy making. What this meant hence is that the black slaves had laws made to government them without their consent, effectively degrading them and denying them their basic human and civil rights.

The conditions mentioned above grossly predisposed the slaves to the abject poverty that they lived in and denied them any chance of uplifting their lives from one level to another, regardless of any hard work that they may put in place. There was need hence to have several changes that would see the hitherto slaves who were deprived of several essentials compensate for the gap that had been created by the disparities of the slavery practices.

Several known writers and social; activists like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. DuBois all argued for the uplifting of the living standards of the black people after the emancipation and the amendments made to end slavery in the legal basis. There were several reasons behind the need for the enactment of several affirmative actions and other measures that would se the black population empowered. There are three different categories of arguments that qualified the need for the empowerment of the black population;

1. Arguments based on justice- there was need for compensatory approach whereby one is given a competitive advantage to compensate for past exclusions. There was also the discrimination-blocking which intends to block the effects of discrimination that are caused by factors such as stigma, discrimination or stereotypes. There was also the integrative way which would be aimed at dismantling factors like stigmatization by promoting social integration.

2. Arguments based on democratic views- where the core mission of such arguments is to cultivate a democratic culture. Admission into colleges and universities have had to put this issue into consideration; places of employment have also had to embrace these policies because citizens majorly share view and interact at the work place hence making it a major civil society site.

3. Arguments based on social value- which is to encourage diversity and enable the disadvantaged population to have an easier access to services that are professional as well as correct bias criteria of merit and allow those who have talents yet are marginalized still get the recognized and get equal opportunities.

However, the challenge lay in the approach to be used to achieve these desired ends among the black population and see them uplifted. The social activists had differing and at times contradictory approaches to the best way forward for the black community in achieving the development and uplifting their lives. For instance, Booker T. Washington who was an influential figure during his time insisted on the self-help approach, racial solidarity and accommodation of others perspective of the blacks. He indicated that at the moment immediately after the 13th and the 14th amendment, the black needed to accept discrimination and instead concentrate on lifting their livelihoods by applying principles of hard work and focus more on material prosperity. His perspective was that if the blacks concentrated on the industrial, crafts as well as farming skills and delve into enterprise and thrift, then they would win the respect of the whites and in return, the blacks would be accepted as citizens of America and subsequently be absorbed into the different strata of the society.

The perspective above by Booker T. was sharply opposed by W.E.B Du Bois who was also a black intellectual and a political thinker who opined that the approach proposed by Booker would only serve to perpetuate the ills of oppression and not compel the white man towards speedy stopping of the vice. He instead proposed that the blacks, in order to achieve the needed uplifting and development, needed to get engaged in political agitations and pursue civil rights agenda. He also proposed that there be a development of "the talented Tenth" who would be college educated blacks that would lead the community towards social change. He argued that it is this tenth well educated blacks that will help steer the black society from the worst possible situations as they will be the think tank for the community (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2014).

The two perspectives by the scholars above sharply divided the back community between these two ideologies, with some following the submissive; approach that Washington proposed yet others feeling that the outright defiance and political involvement would help the black community get to the equality scales faster as proposed by Du Bois (Johnson K.V. & Watson E., 2014). If it were my recommendations however, I would first not discard any of the propositions but would consider the strong points and rectify the possible loopholes that would be in the approach and make both work for the community.

To reconcile the two approaches above, I would first correct the approach by Washington that the blacks did not necessarily accept discrimination since that would kill the spirit of the amendments that had already been enshrined in the constitution. Du Bois also needed to be corrected that there could be pursuing of political interest of the blacks without necessarily…

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