Racism doesn’t just come knocking on people’s doors wearing white hoods and burning crosses in the front yard. It’s also not just when white men clad in khakis and white polo shirts march down the street with their mothers’ mosquito repelling lawn ornaments, either. Racism isn’t just people using racial slurs nor is it only seen in historic photos of hanged victims in old trees surrounded by giant mobs or people being forced to use separate public facilities.
While all of these things are oppressive and racist, racism in America has a far broader brush.
It is often said by racism deniers, that people “just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and we are all “given the same opportunities in this country.” They seem to walk around with his romanticized view of equality in the land of the free and all of a sudden we are living in some utopian society where all those poor people, and especially black people, just choose to do all the wrong things. It’s their own fault they are poor. It’s their own fault that they don’t have enough food to eat, a good education, high-paying jobs, nice housing, stable families and all the security in life that those things bring.
Of course, as they spout off this kind of nonsense, they fail to look at our not so distant history or simply revise it to make them more comfortable (like the myth that the Irish were also slaves in America or that whites owning slaves was somehow ok because Africans sold fellow Africans to the slave traders).
The first African slaves were sold in our country over 400 years ago. The act of owning slaves was abolished just slightly over 150 years ago. In the history of our country, African-Americans as a collective have spent more time in shackles than not. Not to state the obvious here, but that is the root of the racism in our country and many trees are still growing from it.
The following list could be longer, but here are just a few of the things you need to know and understand about racism in America in 2017.
1. Black schools receive less money than white schools
In some ways, our schools are still segregated. Our social structures make it that way. Poor people live in neighborhoods they can afford. Minorities are more likely to be poor (although yes, there are plenty of poor white people, I know, I know, skip the hate mail).
Our school districts are based on our geography for the most part and district lines are often drawn to make sure some students go to one school while others go to another. There are schools with primarily black populations and there are schools with white majorities. It’s also been found that predominantly black schools receive less funding per student than schools with more middle to upper-class white children. In an article from The Atlantic, it is stated:
‘If you color code the districts based on their racial composition you see this very stark breakdown. At any given poverty level, districts that have a higher proportion of white students get substantially higher funding than districts that have more minority students.’ That means that no matter how rich or poor the district in question, funding gaps existed solely based on the racial composition of the school. Just the increased presence of minority students actually deflated a district’s funding level. ‘The ones that have a few more students of color get lower funding than the ones that are 100 percent or 95 percent white,’ Mosenkis said.
That’s still carrying on the “separate but equal” system. It also means that black children end up receiving an education of lesser quality than white children. So, right out of the gate, opportunities are limited by default.
2. White supremacists are becoming cops
In 2006, the FBI issued a bulletin which warned of a plan of white nationalists and skinheads to infiltrate police departments across the United States. In the 11 years since the bulletin, PBS reports, “Neither the FBI nor state and local law enforcement agencies have established systems for vetting personnel for potential supremacist links.”
With no system in place to keep known, active racists out of law enforcement, how many do you think are out there “protecting and serving”?
Which goes into the next two points. . .
3. Black people are more likely to be arrested than white people
During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton mentioned the fact that “African-Americans are more likely to be arrested by police and sentenced to longer prison terms for doing the same thing that whites do.” I mention this because this prompted Politifact to rate the honesty of the statement, and as they do, they gathered evidence supporting their rating. They rated the claim as “true.”
Yes, it really does happen in the United States of America. Black people are arrested and receive tougher sentences than white people. (Perhaps that’s due to all those white supremacists who have infiltrated the police departments?)
But equality, and bootstraps, and all that, right?
4. For-profit prisons need young black prisoners
The United States has been on an outsourcing kick and one of the areas currently being outsourced is our prison system. For-profit (private) prisons are used in several states and currently house more than 125,000 inmates across the country. A study has found that there is an even greater racial disparity among inmates in for-profit prisons than those run by the public. Meaning, for-profit prisons have even more black inmates than white counterparts. Their system actually makes it cheaper for them to house young black prisoners as opposed to the older white convicts (which is how the demographics breakdown) based upon health care needs, of all things. So, they “prefer” to take in young black inmates, only furthering motivation for racial profiling.
Basically, the war on drugs has provided a steady stream of fresh, young, black men to a system that profits off the imprisonment of people who are being arrested (by police forces who may have white supremacists in their ranks) and convicted of crimes that other people are doing at the same rate but not being arrested or convicted.
That totally sounds equal, and just, and all that. . . this is American dream stuff, right here.
5. Prosperous black neighborhoods have notoriously been destroyed in history
It has happened time and time again. A black neighborhood establishes, white city leaders prefer that the black neighborhood doesn’t exist, they come up with a plan to renew the neighborhood, take property away from the homeowners and businesses and destroy the black community living there.
For example, Vinegar Hill in Charlottesville, Virginia. The city bulldozed 140 families’ homes and 30 black-owned businesses in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood in 1965 under the guise of “progress.” Public housing was then offered in place of homeownership for those unable to recover from having their community demolished and that then deteriorated two decades later.
Of course, Vinegar Hill is only one example of the destruction of black neighborhoods that have taken place in our society, one out of over 800 by 1962, as pointed out by Timeline. “Urban Renewal” projects bulldozed 2,500 neighborhoods in 993 American cities” – with 64 percent – or 1,600 of them being black communities. While the reasoning provided for these types of projects is often “urban decay” citing poverty and high crime rates, that simply isn’t true for many of the neighborhoods destroyed during the Jim Crow era.
“Black Wall Street” in Tulsa is a perfect example of that. Known as the wealthiest black neighborhood in the country, hundreds of black Tulsans, including the most skilled black surgeon in America, were killed on the night of May 31, 1921. Timeline reports that “1,256 homes and 191 businesses were destroyed. 10,000 black people were left homeless” and the community “had been reduced to rubble.” While this was considered a race riot, the seizure of property wasn’t all that much different than what took place in Charlottesville and other cities around the country years later.
The term “urban renewal” spawned the expression “Urban renewal is Negro removal” according to the Washington Post.
And, in the case of Vinegar Hill and Black Wall Street, people who had pulled themselves up by their bootstraps had those bootstraps snatched away from them, again. It’s pretty difficult for a community of people to continually be pushed down only to fight to stand up again, only to have yet another boot placed on your head.
That is oppression. And yes, that has continued to take place even after slavery was abolished and still does.
6. Employers are less likely to select resumes with “black-sounding names”
As reported in the Huffington Post, a study by a research scientist at the UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture concluded that racial bias exists with names. The article states, “Students with stereotypically ‘black’-sounding names tend to be labeled as troublemakers by teachers. Job applicants with such names are less likely than their white-sounding counterparts to get called in for interviews. When residents with ‘black’-sounding names contact their local government for information about schools or libraries, they are less likely to receive a response.”
7. White workers have higher wages than black workers
And, for those who make it through the interview process and get that job offer – well, they are offered less money than if they had been born white. According to NPR, “the distance between what white Americans and black Americans earn is larger than it’s been in almost 40 years.”
That equates to black workers make 26.7 percent less than white workers. The article continues, “And the major reason, Wilson said? Not education. Not work experience. Not whether you live on a farm or in a downtown apartment complex. It’s discrimination, and it’s borne out in the data.”
8. 13 percent of black men are denied their right to vote
We aren’t even talking active voter suppression laws dealing with ID and voter roll purges. That’s an entirely other statistic. No, this is stat is solely people who have had their right to vote revoked due to a felony conviction. According to ABC News, “two percent of all Americans, or 3.9 million, have lost the right to vote, compared with 13 percent of adult black men.”
The article also goes on to state that “28.5 percent of black males will likely serve time in a state or federal prison for a felony conviction, a rate seven times than for white males.”
You know who historically have had their right to vote suppressed? African-Americans. The United States has a long history of doing this, another means has just been employed.
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So, just to recap as a black American less money will be spent on your public education. You will have a higher instance of being governed locally by law enforcement who hate you. That makes it more likely that you will be arrested by said law enforcement and then receive a harsher sentence for which you may spend your time in a for-profit prison that makes more money off your incarceration than that of a white counterpart. Your house and/or businesses may be destroyed by local government or your grandparents’ may have already experienced that after obtaining home ownership, which resulted in your parents growing up in public housing.
If you make it through all of those obstacles and do get an education and put together your resume, if you were named after an ancestor with a more “black sounding name” your resume may get trashed before you even get a shot at the job. If you do get hired, you will likely earn less money for the same job done by a white person. Oh, and your right to vote may be suppressed while many of your fellow community members (who were more likely to be arrested and convicted of crimes than people in the white community) may have had their right to vote removed.
Tell me again how slavery was the end of racial inequality in the United States and how racism is dead?