बिहीबार, साउन २२ २०७७
काठमाडौं १२:१३
वासिङटन डिसी 02:28

Racial Discrimination against Blacks in the US: Structural discrimination?

 Narendra Raj Tiwari २०७७ असार ५ गते २०:३२ मा प्रकाशित

The killings of African American men, such as George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta on June 12 ,  by  white police officers  have once more rekindled the long history of racial discrimination in the United States. As of this writing, the protests and riots begin following the murder of the 46-year-old black man (Floyd) and recently the murder of 27 years old colored man(Brooks)  have triggered the situation of looting, destruction, violence, demolition of private and public properties through a means of fire and arson etc, expanding protests in small and large cities throughout the US  and internationally on the side of “Black Lives Matter.”  Floyd is first detained and arrested, and then killed on the suspicion of attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill. At the same time, Brooks gets shot and killed while running away from police officers when the latter is attempting to arrest the former  given that the suspect being asleep on his car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s . Including Brooks’s death, several deaths, such as the killing of Arbery in February, the shooting of Taylor in March, the asphyxiation of Floyd in May, the shooting of Brooks  in June, are recently occurring unusual incidents, signaling patterns of racial discrimination against blacks in the US.   Up to today, the life-and-death impacts of Black men, like Floyd, Brooks in the U.S., have crossed far beyond the high-profile police shootings. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, though the need of the nation is to get ready for reviving the corona-hit US economy and moving forward, the domestic turmoil in the US soil followed by the non-pandemic cause has hit the US economy adversely and unexpectedly, urging emergency  police reforms and signifying the structural racism in U.S. In this case, it is necessary to let all races, including the African American men, feel social justice, equality, and self-dignity via empowering people and programs , and to stop the ongoing anger and protests of the affected and agitated parties across the US communities.

Initially, racial, and ethnic inequalities in the United States have long been prevalent since the colonial era. African Americans history starts when peoples from West Africa are violently kidnapped and forced into slavery   to Latin America during the 16th century, and to English colonies in North America throughout the 17th century . Since European colonists in North America treat African slaves as an economic, abundant labor source than indentured servants–who are predominantly indigent Europeans, the root cause  of the currently prevailing racial discrimination in the US is sown by the colony-time Britain back in the 17th century. Blithely, following the thirteen amendment to the United States constitution, ratified in December of 1865, has lawfully and finally abolished the slavery from the US. However, African Americans people have to struggle for their socioeconomic and political rights from historically through recently via the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, the Civil Rights movements mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for Black Americans,  protests against brutal shooting and killing of Black men by white communities even in the 21st  century etc. to receive equal rights pragmatically  under the law in the United States etc. Additionally, today, more than 150 years after the abolition of slavery from the US, the fatal shooting and death of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging out in Brunswick Georgia on Feb. 23, 2020 by a white father and son ,the shooting and killing of Breonna Taylor in her apartment by a white police officer in Louisville on March 13, 2020, the brutal killing of Floyd by  a Minneapolis white-police officer on May 25, 2020, and the cruel gunfire and heinous homicide of Rayshard Brooks by a white police officer on  June 12, 2020 at Atlanta Wendy’s have revealed manifold violence, discrimination and injustice against African Americans inside the US. Accordingly, all these proofs have clearly depicted signs of structural racism in the US, without fully addressing the causes, since the Civil War.

By the same token, the historical impact of slavery in the United States is the root cause of economic inequality, which leads to systematic racial inequality and racism–barriers against people based on their race and ethnicity in the workplace and schools. Looking at the U.S. unemployment rate during February–April 2020, the unemployment rate of all black workers (3.1%) exceeds the unemployment rate of all white workers (5.8%) by 2.7%. Even in the absence of non-pandemic time, African American workers has got the highest unemployment rate nationally, at 6.5 percent followed by white workers at 3.1%. Also, the date, January 20, 2017, is marked as the historic time for Donald Trump to begin his presidency as the 45th president of the United States, succeeding Barack Obama. Pertinent to 2017 during the pre-Trump leadership, the unemployment rate for blacks is twice that of non-Hispanic whites (9.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively).This clearly depicts a room for the financial and economic insecurity for the African American workers, signaling a wider gap in the labor market and reflecting the structural racism in the US. Similarly, with respect to the educational attainment and education, racial differences in socioeconomic status, in one side, influences the variation in racial disparities due to differences in test score between white and non-white students. On the other hand, even though the educational attainment of all races has improved during the 1990s, diminishing the gap between African American and non-Hispanic whites, differences between the races still exist. Hence, differences in the educational attainment between the white and non-white citizens would lead to the racial discrimination through a channel of income inequality. For instance, the mean non-Hispanic black median household income is $40,165 in contrast with $65,845 for non-Hispanic white households in 2017. Also, 55.5 percent of non-Hispanic blacks in contrast with 75.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites use private health insurance in 2017. Additionally, the death rate for African Americans is generally higher than whites due to heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide. More importantly, Trump even these days while running for the 2020 presidential campaign for his probable second presidency, there appears to be a wider racial gap even in terms of COVOD-19 fatalities between the White and Black men because the death rates for White individuals are significantly lower than the Black and Hispanic/Latino people– in all age groups. As a result, these facts clearly remarks that the prevalence of  chronic fear, frantic anger, persistent despair, and serious depression midst the African American people reflects the evidence of lasting structural racial discrimination, even in 2020, between the white and non-white citizens in the U.S. Societies.

Further, there can be lasting impacts of protests, looting, destruction etc. caused by the gatherings following the barbaric killing of George Floyd by a white-police officer in Minneapolis and the harsh homicide of Brooks in Atlanta also by a white police officer latterly. Meanwhile, some analysts and experts panic about the probable eventuality of the second wave of COVID-19 cases across the US and the world. Obviously, there has been continuous domestic protests going on in the US—after the death of Floyd and Brooks, hurting the local, state, and federal governments with an increase in unprecedented budget for the previously established infrastructures directly and indirectly. Similarly, the domestic civil unrest would also impact the global stock market negatively in the era of globalization. More importantly, domestic protests could also give high threat for the US economic recovery as the US is being hard-hit by the novel corona virus with the beginning of 2020. Protests would also have a few environmental impacts to some extent due to the erratic fire by agitators in private and public properties. On the other hand, domestic as well as international communities,  such as Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary, U.S. embassies in African countries, Civil rights activists in the U.S., Democratic Party credible presidential nominee Joe Biden, Chinese officials have also closely watching the domestic tension developed in the US due to the losses of blacks’ lives recently. For example, the Chinese Communist Party has accused the United states saying her the “racist.” It is ridiculous that China, which is suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, is trying to give a moral lesson to the US claiming herself (china) to be a safeguard of milk though being a cat itself. However, China’s remark on the US domestic concern should be taken seriously since the United States is exclusively in cold War with China given the global current geopolitical situation. Therefore, the US government should handle such incidents and probable adversities  patiently and righteously to establish social justice, peace, harmony as well as to create conducive environments to expand economic activities for the revival of the corona-hit economy itself as well as the global economy.

Moreover, finding a solution to racial injustice seems to be challenging in the name of combat to terminate domestic violence even though efforts have been made against it all over the history because all kinds of repressions are interconnected. That is, confronting against one form of social injustice does not necessarily mean that one should not fight for others. Since racism is a result of cumulative and multifaceted  issues, improving the socioeconomic, political and cultural status of black citizens through recognizing and understanding their privileges, providing preventive health facilities equally to the members of racial and ethnic minorities—judging everyone through the glass of humanity assuming all to be cosmopolitans, are fundamental positive changes that can be carried out to establish an inclusive and better society–which can assist African Americans to  feel the citizens of the U.S via a sense of ownership and accountability. Besides race and ethnicity–which is simply one characteristic of privilege, other outlooks–namely religion, language, gender, citizenship status, ability-status, sexes– have also to be addressed indiscriminately to empower the  adversely affected communities and to acknowledge their possible consequences. Most importantly, politicians should not make racist and offensive remarks for any domestic (racism) and external ( immigration) issues– based on pools and surveys especially on the eve of election time, during dire domestic and global geopolitical situations inside and outside the US–in the name of attracting voters, or proving himself/herself to be the most patriotic political leader ever in the history . Again, the US should be sincerely anti-racist, and set up anti-racist institutions besides not being merely racist.  Thus, the United states must learn from the previous incidents occurred in the past due to racial prejudice or racism and try solving these issues carefully, rationally, effectively as well as proactively to avoid probable future unrest due to racial discrimination. In short, there should be universal changes in the hearts and minds of Americans to make her the best place to live in ever in the history of the world.

However, in the name of solving the racial discrimination issue in the US, the solution of such issues concerns merely on the effects of oppression assuming there are no suppressors or beneficiaries. For example, amid outrage against the brutality of the white-police officers to Floyd, prosecutors have initially imposed charges only to Derek Chauvin, and leave other three officers with him uncharged. However, in the midst of uncontrolled protests across the US, officials are compelled to change charges to offender such that  Derek Chauvin, who is initially charged with the third-degree murder charge, presses his knees on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes, is then charged with the second-degree manslaughter. Similarly, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who assisted holding Floyd, and Tou Thao, who appeared besides the others, though initially not charged are later charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Similarly, both police officers are charged in the murder of Mr. Brooks. Most importantly and recently, some policy reforms, such as use of body camera in New York by police officers on duty, community-based public safety model  dismantling the city’s police department in Minneapolis in the near future, other measures, like banning choke-holds and neck restraints from Florida to California,  the movement for renaming and  removing statue of slavery  and other historical figures  across the country which represent repressed or oppressed implications are also underway in the U.S to address the issue of racial discrimination. Even though Civil Rights Act is formulated and implemented against different classes and forms of discrimination in 1964– assuming protections for race, color, sex, religion, or national origin in the areas of education, employment, voting, and public accommodations, the seed of racial discrimination still inherently occurs in the US, which has been proved by recent turmoil occurred in the US. More importantly, despite the US citizens elect and re-elect the first non-white president– Barack Hussein Obama II, who serves as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 through 2017, it could not drive back the deeply rooted centuries long racial injustice. So, the limits on addressing the racial discrimination issue is: authorities should not reduce at least or cut off at most the right of one party in the name of improving the social status of other parties. In addition, nonetheless slavery has long been abolished in the United States, not all people are treated equally based on their race and ethnicity. Hence, regardless of the formulation of law, the presence of the black man in the executive level, people of color persistently face structural barriers of racial discrimination.

Moving forward, racism is a universal reality. Violence and racism are deeply embedded on the root of inequality.  Since an abundance amount of time has been dedicated in responding to symptoms rather than root causes of racial discrimination, the problem cannot be addressed effectively. In short, the solution to the racial discrimination problem is: what you would do positively if you were black while experiencing the disparity based on the race and ethnicity. In addition, no party should look at others with the motive of revenge. Regardless most people are in support of anti-slavery and anti-discrimination, many of us might have preconception  without realizing it–which ultimately and inherently become the root cause of continuous, frequent and chronic manifestation of the racial discrimination in the US. Again, there should be socially, economically, politically, and culturally favorable environments to battle racial inequality through the implementation of equal treatment, affirmative actions, evoking the principles of equality and equity. The last but not least point is that addressing racism without dividing the community, strengthening democracy, establishing the rule of law, working to depolarize politics and rejuvenate civil discourse about any relevant socioeconomic, political and cultural issues are indeed  today’s needs to make  and prove America a home to equity, dignity, justice, human rights, and transparency  for everyone, and to eliminate racial segregation for invoking different aspects of privileges  in the US and worldwide. In such fatalities, the implementation of law can be practiced to large extent in a different way for avoiding potential death of black lives and to reduce adverse effects by probable suspects. Thus, unable to do so signifies the widespread prevalence of structural racism in the United States. Most importantly, one should not and cannot underestimate the contribution of African Americans for making the US free from the British colony, and for making the foundation of economic and infrastructural development of the today’s US. Let us stop right now the series of killing and being killed, and respect each other as human beings. Finally, may their souls and the all the departed souls of colored people rest in peace. At the same time, I would like to extend my best wishes, paying high tribute to all the determined spirit of African Americans, while celebrating the Juneteenth in 2020 in the United States.

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PhD student (Economics) at Texas Tech University