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Racism: World Politicians Discussion Essay

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Updated: May 28th, 2021

Fred Korematsu

  1. Fred Korematsu, a son of Japanese immigrants born in the United States, was convicted of ignoring the government order to leave his home during World War II and submit to forced relocation (Bannai 13). Thus, he had to face racism due to his ethnic background. Even being a natively born American citizen, Korematsu was supposed to accept repatriation.
  2. In order to deal with this issue, Korematsu (together with two other American Japanese) had to appeal his conviction to the Court of Appeals of the United States and received an agreement to be heard (Malek 25).
  3. Unfortunately, Korematsu was not successful in using this method as the court upheld his conviction. However, the decision was rather controversial since the government submitted wrong information to the court. Nevertheless, it was never explicitly overturned even despite the fact that an official notice was in place. At the same time, this case had a profound effect on discrimination issues. In 1980, it was prohibited to detain citizens without a permit issued by the Congress (Malek 54). Currently, forced allocation of minority groups is seen as one of the most pressing discrimination problems.
  4. Although media did not play any considerable role in the case, they were far from being neutral. Some local newspapers called Korematsu a Japanese spy (Bannai 32). Only many years after, there appeared people who supported Korematsu, considering him to be a national hero.

Harvey Milk

  1. Harvey Milk, who was an American politician, had to address issues of sexism being the first elected homosexual and one of the first officials struggling for the rights of the LGBT community. However, he had never been politically active or open about his sexuality until at the age of 40 he had to move to San Francisco amid other LGBT representatives who had to migrate (Milk 28).
  2. In order to deal with sexual discrimination and promote his interests, Harvey Milk ran for political office. Yet, his three attempts were not successful. He then launched several theatrical campaigns that were intended to promote his ideas (Milk 62). They allowed him to gain popularity and be heard.
  3. The methods described above were very effective. They made it possible for Milk to win a seat of the supervisor of the city. His ideas were supported by the population. Nevertheless, he served only eleven months and was assassinated in 1978. His legacy was not forgotten after this murder. Now, Milk is one of the most respected icons of the LGBT community that considers him to be the boldest politicians ever (Donahue 38).
  4. Although there were LGBT newspapers that supported Milk, in general, this help was rather weak in comparison to the influence of the prevailing majority of mass media, which reinforced the notions of “normality”. After the war, the “normal” family was made an American ideal promoted in advertising (Milk 41). Thus, it was unacceptable for a politician to be different in his sexual orientation.

Solomon Northup

  1. Solomon Northup, who was an average African American farmer and musician, had to deal with the extreme manifestation of racism having been sold into slavery in 1841 when he was seeking employment as a violinist. People who offered him to join the circus drugged him and sold to Louisiana (Northup 19).
  2. There was not much Northup could do to deal with this situation. He was forced to perform numerous tasks in captivity and had to survive in barbaric conditions. He was freed in 1853 due to his friendship with Samuel Bass, who was a Canadian carpenter opposing slavery (Northup 46). Upon his release, Northup published his memoirs as a protest.
  3. The book written by Northup immediately became a bestseller and is considered now to be an important historical document, which contributed to the abolitionist cause. During his lifetime, the author also gave lectures, which considerably increased public awareness of atrocities of slavery (Fiske 54).
  4. The mass media could not help release Northup from captivity but played a significant role in promoting his ideas when he was released. Gordon Parks devoted Northup his movie Solomon Northup’s Odyssey while Renee Moore established a special annual event in his honor. In 2013, a screen adaptation of Northup’s book was released (Fiske 61).

Jackie Robinson

  1. Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who was a professional baseball player, had to deal with racism due to the baseball color line existing at that time. This unwritten policy excluded African American players from the participation in the Major League (Alexander 89).
  2. To put an end to this practice, Robinson signed a contract with Brooklyn Dodgers. They gave him the first base and an opportunity to play in the Major League Baseball (Alexander 92).
  3. As a result, Robinson became a living legend in baseball. He had an outstanding career, which lasted for more than ten years. He played in six World Series, was selected an All-Star for six seasons on end and awarded MLD Rookie of the Year and the National League Most Valuable Player Awards, which was unprecedented for African American players at that time (Alexander 94). He is still remembered now and even has a Jackie Robinson Day in his honor.
  4. Robinson’s talents, character, and non-violence won him a lot of attention on behalf of the mass media. Wide media coverage made it possible for him to contribute to the Civil Rights Movement. He also became one of the first television analysts in the 1960s (Alexander 96).

Works Cited

Alexander, Lisa Doris. “The Jackie Robinson Story vs. the Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson vs. 42: Hollywood’s Representations of Jackie Robinson’s Legacy.” Nine, vol. 24, no. 1/2, 2015, pp. 89-102.

Bannai, Lorraine K. Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice. University of Washington Press, 2015.

Donahue, David M. “Learning from Harvey Milk: The Limits and Opportunities of One Hero to Teach About LGBTQ People and Issues.” The Social Studies, vol. 105, no. 1, 2014, pp. 36-44.

Fiske, David, et al. Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave. ABC-CLIO, 2013.

Malek, Alia, editor. Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice. McSweeney’s, 2015.

Milk, Harvey. An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings. University of California Press, 2013.

Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave (Norton Critical Editions). WW Norton & Company, 2016.

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