In this world, everything comes with the opposite. We have day and night, black and white. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
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Racism cannot be described without first explaining race. “Race is generally understood as a social construct. Although biologically meaningless when applied to humans – physical differences such as skin color have no natural association with group differences in ability or behavior – race nevertheless has tremendous significance in structuring social reality” ( Clair, 2015, p. 857). Races are recognized similar physical features, which are considered to be “fixed”.
“Whether race is a burden or a benefit is all the same to the race-neutral theorists; that is what they mean when they speak of being colorblind. They are colorblind, all right-blind to the consequences of being the wrong color in America today” (Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP, 2003). Deep-rooted cultural elements in the African American community have overtaken the responsibility of racism in describing the state of life faced by black people, specifically those in poverty.
The Civil Rights Movement was a struggle by African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. This movement was determined to attain the basic civil rights and liberties that were equal to those of Whites. These rights and liberties, which were guaranteed by the Constitution but never fulfilled, included equal educational opportunities, employment, housing, the right to vote, the right to access certain public facilities, and most importantly, the right to be free of racial discrimination.
“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America: there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America” (Barack Obama, 2004). Obama stood before the nation, he is a living representation of America’s overdue racial problems. January 20th, 2009 Barack Obama became our very first black president of the United States in history. “How could a nation founded as a white settler colony built with the forced labor of enslaved Africans-and where
Whites were still the majority of voters-elect a man of color less than two generations after the fall of formal apartheid” (Wise, 2010, preface).
Maybe white Americans have let go of their biases towards the black community, we now have a black President. President Obama did collect fewer than half of all white votes cast, he was also the only Democratic President to receive more white’s votes than past Democratic Presidents. Obama being elected for President does not mean that racism is gone. “So even this, the so-called “age of Obama” evidence of institutional racial inequity and even the outright institutional discrimination persists” (Wise, 2012, p.36).
“The past is the past” and this means we should not dwell on it. Is what a lot of people would say about enslaved Africans. “Truth is, we love living in the past when it venerates this nation and makes us feel good” (Wise, 2012, p 18).
White America is a real thing. We come in all shapes and colors, and America is defined as a melting pot, so although we are different looking, being white in the United States of America means something, as well as other races, but being white, you are superior. This goes as far back as when the Europeans came and settled on Native land and it soon became the New World. “Even after the legal right to buy, sell, breed and enslave people of color officially ended, our whiteness continued to matter” (Wise, 2012, p 21).
Being white means being able to live where you want, where you work, and where you go to school, and access to healthcare. Because of all of this, I will say that the past does matter because the past does affect the present. Institutional racial oppression and white privilege play
In regards to health care, schooling, poverty, etc. It is like these issues are in a box, and have no link to color. Education plays a very significant role and will continue to play a great deal in changing the attitudes. Legislation and Education are a must. “You can’t legislate morals, but behavior can be regulated” (King Jr. 151). Education is needed to change the attitudes and legislation is needed to take action to control behavior. “It may be true that the law from can’t make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also” (King Jr. 151). In order to get rid of discrimination, minorities must use the proper methods.
“As of 2009, even black men with college degrees were nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts” (Wise, 2008, p 54). It is important for society to acknowledge the divide in the well-being of people of color and whites, and society needs to learn the cause of this.
In 2006 the highest number of race-based housing discrimination complaints about race recorded in history, let’s mention that the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. But it was not recorded the highest number of race-based housing discrimination based on race during this time period, but thirty-eight years later. The wealthiest four hundred white people in the United States have the same collective amount of all forty one million black people in our country combined.
“According to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau ACS study (see charts below) 27% of all African American men, women and children live below the poverty level compared to just 11% of all Americans. An even higher percentage (38%) of Black children live in poverty compared to 22% of all children in America. The poverty rate for working-age Black women (26%) which consists of women ages 18 to 64 is higher than that of working-age Black men (21%)”.
Now I must say people of color do need to take responsibility for their lives. Everyone in the world has a responsibility to do what they can. “Discrimination and inequity stalk the present day. In other words, it is not merely a matter of historical significance, but also a contemporary reality” (Wise, 2012, p 26).
The number of certain stereotypes that involve African Americans and the word criminal. But what if “Wall Street con men were black, there is little doubt that part of narrative would have also concerned how their actions further “proved” connection between race and predatory behavior” (Wise, 2012, p 29). Now isn’t it funny how if an African American man was walking in a White folk’s direction people tend to fear him over the White male? Why is it that people fear black male?
A study released in 2004 that Black and Latino’s males are three times more likely than white males to have their cars stopped and searched for drugs, but the kicker is white males are four times more likely to have drugs on them on the occasion when they are stopped. Even the people we rely on the serve and protect us are not doing their job properly. Recently there has been a huge crisis in the media about black lives matter and police brutality. White people can for the most part count on our police officers for protection rather than harassment. Black people are more likely to get shot by the police than their white peers. “An analysis of the available FBI data by Dara Lind for Vox found that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population.” What is mind-blowing is that almost all of these victims are unarmed. “Racial minorities made up about 37.4 percent of the general population in the US and 46.6 percent of armed and unarmed victims, but they made up 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police.”
In 2012 Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighbor, George Zimmerman. Trayvon had no criminal background. It has been reported that Zimmer regularly patrolled the community and was licensed to carry a firearm. He also had called the police several times stating that he saw people as being skeptical. All of the reported individuals were black males. “On the evening of February 26, Zimmerman saw Martin, who had left the house to purchase Skittles and iced tea. From his SUV, Zimmerman called the police department at 7:11 PM to report a “suspicious guy,” Martin, walking between homes and starting to run. The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to get out of his car and follow Martin, with Zimmerman disregarding instructions and pursuing the teen” (A&E Television Networks, 2014). This all ended in tragedy when the confrontation between the two men ended with George Zimmerman shooting the unarmed black teen in the chest. Trayvon died less than a hundred yards from his home. Trayvon Martins death, as well as other African Americans who had passed in similar situations and or at the hands of a police officer, has sparked a movement called “Black Lives Matter”. Black Lives Matter because black lives are the ones that are being targeted. They are the bait. Black Lives Matter started out as being a social media hashtag in response to the violence and death that has been going on in the black community. This movement also addresses the violence and racism encountered by LGBTQ communities.
“Poor black people are represented in all categories of the oppressed in the United States. They are immigrants. They are poor and working class. They are disabled. They are indigenous. So if “all Black people means undoing systems of injustice that impact all other oppressed groups as well” (Ransby, 2018, p.3). In 1964 around two-thirds of those that were incarcerated were white, on the other hand, one-third were a person of color. And in the nineties, these numbers had actually reversed. This result changed because of the disproportionate concentration of the justice system on the war on drugs.
“Whites compromise roughly seventy percent of all drug users and are every bit as likely as people of color to use drugs (contrary to popular perception), nine in ten people locked up each year for a procession offense are people of color” (Wise, 2012, p.35). Black minors are nearly fifty times more likely than white youth to be incarcerated for a first-time drug offense. Also, when all the factors that play a role in this are equal.
Although people accept that discrimination and racism is very much still a thing in 2019, a lot of the time people do not try to talk about it and go around it. What is sad is that at young age children of color actually experience these negative stereotypes, some as early as the 3rd grade.
“Recent studies have demonstrated that immigrants and ethnic minorities may be at higher risk of suicidal behavior as compared to the general population.” (Public Health, 2018). It is extremely important to understand mental health and seek help especially if we need it. But we need a better understanding specifically for immigrants and those of color’s mental health. Immigrants and people of color experience such bad mental health because of their situation and trauma. A lot of these people have become victims of torture and go through a decent amount of emotional and physical hurt. Research has also shown us that immigrants and people of color are at a higher risk for suicide and or depression or some type of mental health issue.
“To discuss racism and discrimination is to prepare for its possibility, even while one works hard to overcome its sting” (Wise, 2012, p 58). The United States is flawed, and not much different from the other countries, especially when it comes to history. The human existence as a whole has a process of oppressing certain groups. “We have been taught history through a white-tinted lens that has minimized the exploitation of People of Color and extolled the hardworking, courageous qualities of white people. For example, many of our fore parents gained a foothold in the US by finding work in trades or occupations that Black workers, who had begun entering many such skilled and unskilled jobs, were either excluded from or pushed out of in the 19th century.” (Surj. 2019).
A lot of us believe that privilege means wealth, but that is not always the case. Privilege is not just about economic status and material goods. Many people who are privileged are oblivious to the minority’s reality. White people secure at the price of people of color no matter of economic situation. “The sad truth is that most whites fail to possess even the slightest awareness that people of color face any different life situations at all, regardless of cause. Many whites believe that blacks are doing just as well as white people when it comes to their jobs and income. Little do they know that African Americans are two times more likely as whites to be unemployed in low wage jobs.
“Aggressive immigration enforcement hurts the very youngest children. Refugee and U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants experience many childhood adversities, compromising their development and health. Refugee children flee traumatizing violence in their home countries, face grueling migrations, and are harmed further by being held in detention centers. Citizen-children of undocumented immigrants frets every day that their parent will not come home because they were apprehended, detained, or deported.” (Luis, 2018). The Trump administration’s new zero-tolerance policy at the border considered to stop new immigrants with the warning of jail sentences. Immigrant parents who are mentioned for criminal prosecution will be taken away from their children.
The Trump administration is not able to recite the whereabouts of 1,500 immigrant children, who have come to the United States illegally. Not to mention that these children were placed with sponsors. This now has concerned the public that human trafficking may be involved.
Senator Richard Blumenthal Democrat of Connecticut, who also sponsored the legislation, said, “Children who risk their lives to make a dangerous journey in pursuit of asylum shouldn’t they have to worry about falling victim to human trafficking or being handed over to abusive or neglectful adults in the United States.”
Although the essence of white supremacy in the United States has changed to a certain degree, the notable fact of white racial privilege or power is very much still real to this day. “In order to engage in race treason, becoming fluent in the language of resistance is a crucial first step” (Wise, 2008, p.6). Basically, if we generate a society of justice in a way where someone’s skin color has no termination in deciding a person’s role in life. We need to uncover white denial in a lot of different ways. Figuring out white privilege, and analyzing them and showing how this privilege and the inequality that it portrays.
“In order to address any social problem, the first and most important thing to acknowledge its existence” (Wise, 2008 p. 11). Many people assume that when people of color do have a problem with something. And or decide to speak up that they are initially trying to play the “race card”, so basically what this is saying that people of color want to have an excuse if something goes wrong in life, and typically white people think if a black person mentions their race, that this is an example of using race to get by or to make them look more innocent. This is not the actual case in most situations.
Although we have come a long way, racism still exists, and there are some days where I feel like we’re going backward and repeating history. People need to become more educated on this topic, and aware of their privilege, and could even use it to help because of having a foot forward. Being a young black man has not always been the easiest, and I have personally faced trials of my own, but I do believe change is coming very soon, and if people could work on understanding fully and try to change their own bias towards people of color, they themselves will be progressing forward. It just really involves the black, white, Latino, Asian, etc communities to come together and end this.
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