Race and Racism – Term Paper

Part one

 Selma struck me as an emotional and yet necessary outlook at the historical accounts of racial discrimination and the events that have come to shape inter-racial relationships. For instance, the bombing at the onset of the film was bewildering, to say the least. As such, I found the incident quite wounding especially for the protagonists in the movie. The film displays the predicament of African-Americans who struggled to make it clear that they were advocating for equal rights. However, their efforts were met with brutal and inhumane force from both authorities and ordinary citizens who were bent on ensuring that African-Americans did not achieve the freedom and privileges that they demanded at the time. The same situation persists to date where racism against African-American minorities is orchestrated by the dominant white populous through legal and non-legal means with the aim of frustrating efforts of African-Americans in achieving equal status with white Americans. This fact is brought out clearly in Eduardo Bonilla-Silvas book where he writes I regard racism as a structure, that is, as a network of social relations at social, political, economic, and ideological levels that shapes the life chances of the various races (Bonilla-Silva 26). The struggle depicted in the film Selma where civil rights movement meant to advance for the voting rights of African-Americans are reminiscent of the scenic racism against African-American communities that is evident to this day. In that esteem, African-Americans have a challenge when it comes to getting fair treatment through the justice system. Statistics indicate that incarcerations, police brutality, poverty, and education are avenues where African-Americans are at a disadvantage when compared to their white counterparts. In the acceptance speeches presented by celebrities John Legend and Common, who participated in the development and production of Selma, the two states that Selma is now an indication that the struggle continues to present times.  

Part two

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Minteng, I was equally surprised by the beginning of the movie where the explosion happened. Moreover, I agree with you on the premise that the scene was essential in portraying the dilemma that African-American communities were undergoing during the civil rights movement. Although much has changed since then, I also find that at present a new civil rights movement is at play especially in relation to the #Black Lives Matter campaign or initiative. I note that great strides have been achieved or realised by the African-American populous. However, there is more still that needs to be done. As such, people of colour in America still face discrimination much like that depicted in Selma save for the fact that it takes a new form where police brutality, incarcerations, poverty, housing, and education disadvantages constitute the basis of racism in present times.

Ian, your insight on sensitisation of white populous in the North about the discrimination by Southern authorities regarding racism and the suffering of African-Americans told by the story of Martin-Luther King in Selma is quite eye opening. I agree with you that insensitivity to the racial discrimination of African-Americans among white populous was widespread and; hence, a mass action such as is depicted in the Selma march was necessary to garner such audience. Although I do not entirely think that Oprahs (Annie Coopers) representation in the film is of modern racism, I do agree with you that more African-American voices are muffled due to the lack of opportunity to vote in elections as at present. Hence, I observe that Selma is depictive of the struggle of the African-American people and, more so, touches on pertinent issues that relate to modern struggles of the community through racism that disadvantages African-Americans on socio-economic fronts.


Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1962.