Christianity And The Jim Crow Era

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Cognitive dissonance is when an individual is having two thoughts or perceptions that are inconsistent with one another. This term refers to when one person believes one thing, and behaves in a way that conflicts with their beliefs. During the 1800s when the Jim Crow era was beginning, there was a major level of cognitive dissonance between white people’s values, and their behaviors who took park in the systematic oppression of blacks. A good amount of these people were to be considered good-natured Christians who happen to take part and volunteer in the segregation between whites and blacks.

The kick-off to the civil rights movement was the first stepping stone to abolishing the cognitive dissonance between an individual’s religion and segregation. The day when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person, was when these Christians thought that segregation may not be the way that God wanted this country to be. Although the Jim Crow laws have been abolished, the impact of these policies are still very well present in today’s world. You still see many neighborhoods, schools and cities segregated, and this can lead to income levels that are far different from other non-segregated areas. “Less segregation would also make Chicago and its environs more educated, with an estimated 83,000 more people who have bachelor’s degrees.”

The United States upholds the notions of freedom and democracy, but at the same time they were enslaving Africans for years. During the civil war and the Jim Crow era, The United States was committing acts of lynching or committing extreme violence toward African Americans simply because of their race. The United States was also segregating public school systems, busses, and public facilities in the country that considers themselves the “land of the free.” Looking into one of the most segregated cities in the United States of America, Chicago, Researchers have found that if the city of Chicago were to be desegregated, there would be less crime rate, and the gross income among all people would be much higher. “If Chicago — the fifth most racially and economically segregated city in the country — were to lower its level of segregation to the national median of those 100 cities, it would have a profound impact on the entire Chicago region, including raising the region’s gross domestic product, raising incomes and lowering the homicide rate”.

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The biggest historical issue I see with this cognitive dissonance problem is that you would see followers of God, people attending catholic mass on Sundays, that took part in the culture of the Jim Crow era. “There are such stark differences between the ideas of segregation and Christianity, that many are unable to understand how someone could support both”. As far as the Jim Crow laws go, the laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act, and Supreme Court cases helped desegregate America such as Brown v. Board of Education. However, segregation is still very present in the United States, and it doesn’t take a genius to notice high levels of racism still present in our country. I believe the cognitive dissonance problem was resolved to an extent when acts of lynching occurred, or when blacks were being arrested for things such as sitting in the middle of the bus or boarding an all-white train. When whites finally realized that the phrase “separate but equal” was cruel and unconstitutional, is when the march to the civil rights movement began and white’s beliefs of the Jim Crow laws began to diminish.

There are many cultural implications regarding the Jim Crow era, and these implications are long term, and may unfortunately stick with our country forever. There will always be African Americans who hold grudges toward white people because their ancestors treated them so unfairly, or show a lack of trust toward the police force or government officials. These black children grew up in a world where they had little to no idea that their parents were being oppressed, also being treated unconstitutional. “There is a cognitive dissonance between the fond memories they hold of their past and the truth that they now know as adults”.

The only way this problem will resolve is by letting time pass on and giving African Americans a chance to cope and forgive whites for the things that went on during the Jim Crow Era. Another repercussion of the Jim Crow Laws is that these major inner cities of the U.S will probably be segregated forever. There are areas that would significantly value to being diverse, this could lead to higher educational opportunities for blacks, more job opportunities, while giving the ability for blacks and whites to interact more. “Government policies initially created segregated neighborhoods in Chicago, when the Chicago Real Estate Board instituted racially restrictive covenants that prohibited African-Americans from purchasing, leasing and occupying housing outside of a small area”.

The cognitive dissonance in the 1800s during the Jim Crow era was that white Christians were supporting the culture of the Jim Crow Laws. This problem is still present because there are still individuals who are for segregation or the idea that whites should be on top, and they happen to be church goers and people who praise the Lord.

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