Time has seemed to stand still for the last 57 years; the civil rights era was supposed to be a time for complete change for the black community. Leaders such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Rosa Parks emerged to encourage Black people to take a stand against factors oppressing them like Jim Crow laws and of course police brutality. They marched and were met on all sides with police dogs, fire hoses, guns, and batons. And for a while there seemed to be progress made, but looking back on the past few years, especially 2017, it is more apparent than ever that race relations never actually improved much, but were more so masked to silence the community for temporary peace. As the days, months and years go by more and more names get added to the list -Rodney King, Sean Bell, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, etc.- it is easy to see that the issue of police brutality is far from dissipating. And this generation has the responsibility of changing the tide on the issue. We must do more than “say their names” or make them a hashtag. We must find a solution to the issue of police brutality and dismantle the system from the core. To do that there first must be an understanding of the system and the history of it the corporation.
Although America isn’t nearly as racist as it was throughout slavery and segregation, racism is still very present in our society. We see Racial discrimination in police brutality, workspaces, and within our social lives. Multiple African American men and women are a threat to their peers, and that is an extremely prevalent issue within our country. Racial prejudices and racial discrimination isn’t only toward the African-American race but, we have yet to reach a “post-racial” era especially toward black people in our country
The Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s was a huge turning point for the African-American race, but as of 2016 have we really progressed much since? In 2009, the U.S attorney general said, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards” and I completely agree(Sharpton). As a country, we have people from all over the world and out of all everyone in our country, about twelve percent are African-Americans, whereas White Americans take up seventy seven percent of America. This clearly shows that African- Americans are a minority here. The nation is no longer segregated and African-Americans can vote now, but does that mean racism is no longer present? Most people are sensitive to this conversation and choose to avoid it rather than to talk about the issue and solve it, which is why our country essentially has cowardice. There isn’t a way to end discrimination or prejudices if majority of the nation is too scared to be educated on the topic of racism and too scared to be vulnerable and open to critique. This topic is taboo when the topic comes up, but if it is not discussed, this doesn’t mean it disappears. We will not have progressed any more than we had in 1965 if people continue to succumb to the taboo.
About half of African-Americans feel uncomfortable or feel like there’s a bias against them when they go to do their normal daily activities such as eating out or shopping (Shufro). They shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable in their own environment. Cathy Shufro states that, Intellectually, we affirm racial equality, and therefore ‘we’re well practiced at denying these negative feelings.’ Dovidio says prejudice arises from social conditioning and from the tendency of Americans to associate power with whites, not blacks” (Shufro). People like to say that our society is equal, but who are these people who believe so? Mainly upper-class Caucasian citizens, who instead of addressing the issue would rather push the issue of racism under the rug. From personal experience, going to a majority Caucasian school, I do feel that this bias is present. From peers, teachers, and friends, I choose to not address these issues because of the mutual understanding that we should deny those feelings of racial stereotyping and ignore it. I choose not to say anything because I am nervous that the power of white people will suppress my feelings as a black person. I shouldn’t have to feel that way nor should any other person in this country. All people should feel free to be themselves without always looking over their shoulder and worrying how someone perceives them.
Overall in 2015, black people were killed at twice the rate of Caucasian, Hispanic, and Native Americans. About 25% of the African Americans killed were unarmed, compared with 17% of white people and One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001(Swaine). If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime (Criminal Justice Fact Sheet). This type of statistic is what sparked the black lives matter movement. If African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%. African American men are set up from an elementary school age that if they are not on the correct reading level by third grade, they are expected to end up in prison (Criminal Justice Fact Sheet). Why is this the standard? Why does America not have high expectations for African American men as they do for Caucasian men? What can be done to change this expectation? The education system can try to cater to the students who are having more difficulty rather than leaving them alone to become just another statistic. “It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter” (Fang). This is exactly way movements like Black lives matter exist, to represent people who otherwise would never have a voice.
The Black lives matter movement has been an important movement within our lifetime and in reality, our society hasn’t improved all that much as far as racial equality goes, since the Civil rights movement in the 1960’s. Hundreds of our African American peers have lost their lives to racial profiling or racial prejudices. Why should we care that our society isn’t equal? Why should everyone be involved in the movement? Our country would be built on inaccuracy and lies if we don’t do something as a community to stop the racial prejudices in our country
Police brutality has been a thing in the minority communities for over a half century. Minorities must teach their children how to conduct themselves while being stopped at traffic stop, to make sure that their kids come back home at night. Mostly women of the minority are afraid to call the police when they are in danger because they are afraid that the cop will be no help and will only make the situation worst. Some people think that they’re chances of staying alive are better if they do not call the police. In the minority community cops are looked at as dangerous and not to be trusted.
There was once an African American lady in Houston, Texas who called the police on another police officer at a routine traffic stopped because she did not feel safe. She was pulled over because she switched lanes over double white lines. For that reasoning the police officer asked her to get out of the car, where he proceeded to threaten to taser her because she wasn’t moving quick enough. Once he overheard her saying she was fearful whilst being on the phone with the dispatcher, he rushed at her almost breaking her arm. When the other police officers arrived, they did not ask if she was okay or if she needed help but instead was trying to figure out was to charge her with. This officer has not been reprimanded for anything that he was done, the police department declared his action lawful. Even though during the entire incident, the officer abused his power and used unnecessary force (Gettys). Just years before in the same city a woman of the name Sandra Bland had just been killed by the hands of a police officer. Sandra Bland was arrested during a traffic stop but she wasn’t as lucky as Earledreka White because she was found hung three days later in a Houston prison cell. Sandra Bland was known for speaking up against social injustices such as police brutality and she died at the hands of it. Something must be done about the amount of lives being lost by the hands of the people who are supposed to save us.
Many strong leaders have emerged to try and help fight our case. To take stand against factors targeting the African American community. Society has tried saying equality is displayed between the different ethnicities, however is it fair? Seems as if majority Caucasians ignores the issue going on. Some citizens think that they’re chances of staying alive are better if they do not call the police. To end police brutality society, need to be aware of what is genuinely going on within our country and not what the media chooses to feed their viewers. One needs to be reminded that although they might not experience this struggle, or have not been racially profiled, there are multiple out there who are experiencing it every day.