Many Americans have bought into the false dreams that racism no longer thrives in America. Even if they do believe racism still exists, many people assume it is not a massive problem – but recent events have shown it most certainly is.
From the police officer who took Eric Garner’s life in New York City in July after he put the father in a chokehold to the militarization of police in Ferguson, Missouri, after protesters pushed for answers in the killing of Michael Brown.
Brown was the 18-year-old high school graduate who was fatally shot multiple times last month by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
The systematic racism that has left the city of St. Louis in the top 10 ranking of the most segregated cities in America can’t be ignored simply because there is an African-American family in the White House or because Black celebrities are now able to reach diverse audiences.
The fact that we now have African-American CEOs and Black spokespeople does not rewrite the type of media framing that describes Wilson as a “simple man” and Brown as “no angel.”
For years, many Americans have been turning a blind eye to the deeper roots of racism that have a tight grasp on many Black Americans.
Even the educational system seems to be failing Black students.
Dozens of predominantly Black schools in Chicago, New Orleans and Newark, N.J., are being forced to close their doors for good thanks to severe budget cuts.
As an article in the Los Angeles Times explains, “From the arrival of the first slaves in the 17th century until emancipation in the 1860s, most blacks not only had no economic opportunities, the fruits of their very hard labor were stolen from them by their slave masters.”
Even after enslaved men and women were granted freedom, brutal treatment from racists and marginalization not only robbed them of land and opportunity but it created a reality where economic advancement was nearly impossible to obtain.
“The extreme damage done to community life, however, is all too obvious,” said LA Times political commentator David Horsey. “It is the same damage evidenced in any poor community, but compounded by generations of neglect: poor health, undermined family structures, inadequate education, underemployment, crime, addiction, incarceration and social alienation.”
Black and white Americans share responsibility for the way Black Americans are struggling to create a positive future while fighting off America’s dark past.
Black Americans will have to work to break the cycles of violence in their own communities and make education a priority while uplifting family values.
White Americans will need to realize that this isn’t just Black America’s problem – it is simply America’s problem and America will have to be a part of the solution.