On the eve of WWI, there were two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. By 1923, 1.5 million of them had been brutally murdered. This was a genocide. In 1915, a group known as the Young Turks had taken over the Ottoman Empire. This group desired a solely Muslim state, which meant that the Christian Armenians has to be disposed of. On the night of April 24, 1915 the government placed over 200 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders under arrest, and soon executed them. This is considered the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenians were forced to walk naked through the desert until they fell over and died, or slowed down and were beaten to death or shot. They were burned to death, drowned, and poisoned. Many of the women were sold as sex slaves or put into Turkish harems. People were also hung and crucified. Corpses were stuffed into wells and caves. There were bodies on the roads and in the fields, for the Turkish were not burying the dead. The theme of racism is supported by this video, because it discusses when the Turks attempted to exterminate the entire Armenian race due to the belief that their own race and belief were superior to the Armenians.
In Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), there has been a recent military crackdown on an ethnic Muslim group known as the Rohingya. The Rohingya are telling horrific stories about murders, house burnings, and rapes. The counter-insurgency campaign against began after nine policemen were killed in an alleged militant attack, however, the Rohingya say that they are being attacked without reason. According to the UN, the Rohingya are being punished for militant attacks, with the ultimate goal being total ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim group in Myanmar, and are descended from Arab traders. They have lived in the country for generations, but the government refuses to recognize them as citizens, and says that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They have been called by the UN, "probably the most friendless people in the world". Over the last few decades, the extremist Buddhist monks have been preaching that the Rohingya have been reincarnated from insects and snakes, so therefore "pest control" is necessary. This demonstrates the theme of racism, because racism is the prejudice and discrimination of another race because of the belief that your own race is superior. Genocide, such as what is happening Myanmar, is the intent to destroy a race, ethnic group, or religion through intentional murder
"I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls." One of the most famous quotes of all time. On August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of his most famous speeches during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin luther King Jr. was a prolific speaker and a Civil Rights icon. Born in 1929, King earned a docterate in theology in 1955. Eloquent and intelligent, he followed in the steps of his father and became a Baptist minister. He began to become a civil rights leader similar to Gandhi. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, four years before he was assassinated. His "I Have A Dream" speech is one his most well known accomplishments. This quote helps people to understand how racism separates people, and the dreams that others have to stop racism.
As children, we are taught that Gen. Robert E. Lee was a kind, decent man who was against slavery, but felt that his duties to his state were more important than acting like a decent human being. He was almost mythical, with people saying that he was brilliant at strategy, and was a devoted Christian who despised slavery, and help bring the country back together after the war. In reality, while he was decent tactician and devoted Christian, he believed that slavery was what was best for African Americans, was not a kind slave owner, and didn't believe that slavery should end, unless by divine intervention. His part in setting the foundation of the Lost Cause, which in turn paved the way for the Jim Crow laws. The statues of him support racism by celebrating his cause, which was to own people as property based off the color of their skin.
Personally, when I think of songs or musicals that deal with the issue of racism, I think of the musical South Pacific. In the musical, there are four main characters. The first one, Nellie, is a young southern nurse who works for the US Navy and has ended up on this island. Emile de Becque is a French plantation owner who has two half Tonkinese children from his previous wife. There is also Lt. Joseph Cable, a young marine, and Liat, a young Tonkinese woman that Cable falls in love with. South Pacific shows how racism is wrong through the actions of the Americans, Nellie, and Cable. Nellie falls in love with Emile but refuses to marry him because his children are half Tonkinese. Lt. Cable falls in love with Liat but refuses to marry her because she is not white. In one of the songs, "You've Got to be Carefully Taught", Lt. Cable explains to Emile why the Americans are racist, saying, "You've got to be taught to hate and fear....You've got to be taught before it's too late... Before you are six or seven or eight." This supports the theme of racism by explaining how racism starts. People are not born racist. Instead, they are taught as children to "hate and fear" those who are different from them.
One of the most famous books of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, directly confronts racism. In the rural town Maycomb, Alabama, the main character Scout Finch lives with her brother Jem, and father Atticus Finch. Scout and Jem have many adventures with their friend Dill, who is staying with his mother over the summer. Atticus, a lawyer, takes a case to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. This causes most controversy, and anger and Atticus for taking the side of a black man. Although Atticus proves that defendant, Tom, is innocent, the all-white jury convicts him. Tom is shot and killed when he tries to escape from prison. This book demonstrates racism throughout the entire thing, with the entire town of Maycomb showing extreme racism to its African American inhabitants, and with Atticus Finch trying to explain to his children that racism is wrong by saying, "As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."
When I think of a painting that depicts racism, I think of the iconic 1964 painting, "The Problem We All Live With", by Norman Rockwell. It shows Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to desegregate an all white school in Mississippi. On November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges was escorted by four federal marshals to the William Franz Elementary School, two men in front of her and two behind her. As she and the four marshals arrived at the school, they were greeted by a large crowd of people shouting and throwing things behind police barriers. At first, Ruby thought people were celebrating Mardi Gras. She was immediately escorted to the principal's office, where she spent the remainder of the day, because all the white parents had pulled their children out of school that day, which meant that classes couldn't be held. In this painting, Ruby is walking to school, holding her supplies in one hand. Two grown men walk in front of her and two behind her. In the background, there is the N-word written on a wall. There is also a tomato that has been thrown, and is dripping down the wall. Norman Rockwell painted this scene for the cover of the "Life" magazine in 1964. This supports the theme of racism by depicting how just one, small little girl, has to face so much persecution just to go to school.