How The Identity Of Americans Was Shaped By Race, Enlightenment, And Gender Argumentative Essay Examples
America is a place for cultural meltdown due to the fact that it hosts people of different races and ethnic groups. Enlightenment, race, and gender are three important aspects of the American development as they contributed in the shaping of its culture. As the economic activities recorded significant changes as a result of enlightenment, so did ideas of gender and race which determined the type of life people lived. This paper is an analysis of how enlightenment, gender, and race helped in shaping the American identity.
The enlightenment helped shape the society in the country because through it, many people were educated and introduced to new social-economic approaches. Inventions and rational thinking that resulted from it changed many aspects of life in America and all over the world. D’Emilio (40), states that it led to new improved agricultural practices that commercialized farming as opposed to subsistence practice that was common. This development led to disintegration of family control over individuals as many people moved to the growing towns. Rational thinking which resulted from enlightenment led to improved understanding of social rights as well as discoveries that changed interaction. As a result, scientists were able to separate sex and reproduction leading to changes in sexual interactions (D’Emilio, 41). The event also brought new ideas of worship, which led to religious conflicts, and intolerance between the Catholics and Protestants such as the Quakers as pointed out by Silver (98).
United States of America has struggled with race related problems and ethnic intolerance since the early 18th century, which has significantly determined the formulation of the country’s constitution. Additionally the efforts to enhance a social balance have initiated a number of amendments that sought to solve the puzzle of racism. Generally, life in America favored the white regardless of the whether they were new immigrants and sidelined the minorities such as the African-Americans, Latin-Americans, and Indian-Americans, some of whom had lived in the country for half a century or longer (Jefferson 122). According to Oladuah (52), when the European arrived into the country they were received by their fellow countrymen and are hired. He points out that they find their equal and are raised to the level of a family member with the provisions they get being superior to those of the people they find there. Land and property ownership among other privileges also favored the white community in America as Oladuah (53) states the friends he gains advises him and the good name he has secures him credit and he is now in possession of the deed.
Issues of gender and equality have revolved in the American community for a long time. In the past, culture was based on the supremacy and dominance of the white population with women being sidelined in the society. Major economic activities and leadership positions were a reserve for men and particularly the white men. Few women who broke these barriers faced a lot of discrimination and harassment, which sometimes degenerated into physical assault. Women were sometimes regarded as the lower race of gender as some of the issues they faced were similar to those faced by the minority population. Exploitation was rampant and sometimes justice was denied because the judges were men who were biased about gender. For instance, in a 1793 rape case, a judge acquitted a sexual offender sparking protests from working men (D’Emilio 39). He ruled that the assaulted working woman must have had expectations of sexual encounter after walking at night with a gentleman. During the time, women did not have rights even on matters concerning reproduction.
The ideas of enlightenment, race, and gender were of paramount importance in shaping the American identity because they initiated social and structural changes to promote the tolerance between people of different races, ethnicities, and ideological orientation. Some of the rights and privileges enjoyed by the citizens today were shaped by the events that took place in the 18th century where people were sidelined in terms of their gender and race. The developments that resulted from the enlightenment were also essential in determining social interaction. The American society owes a lot to the events that took place in the 18th century as they indeed shaped their identity.
D'Emilio, John. Freedman. Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America. University of Chicago Press, 1988. Print.
Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the state of Virginia (1974). J.W. Randolph publishers, 1853
Oladuah, E. "What is American?" Olaudah Equiano describes the 'Middle Passage,’ 1789. Print.
Silver, Peter R. Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. Print.