On March 18, 2018, Stephon Clark, a 21-year-old, unarmed, black man was shot and killed by local police in his own backyard. His death sentence was the result of holding a phone that strangely resembled a weapon while his back was against officers. Days later, federal officials announced no charges would be filed against the police officers who murdered Alton Sterling, another unarmed black man. Reason being “there was insufficient evidence to show Alton Sterling’s civil rights had been violated” (BBC). Too bad for Alton, the right to life is no longer inherent. Too bad for Alton and every other black and brown person, that in a “post-racial” America, true democracy remains an eluding dream.
Too many times have I heard that racism is a thing of the past. Uninformed individuals attribute equality to how long-ago slavery existed and how black our former president is. While I won’t deny America of its gains, I won’t concede to the nonexistence of racism just because I haven’t seen any white hoods lately. It’s the 21st century guys, just as technology and human knowledge has progressed and advanced, so has racism. Racism is subtler, more sneaky and underhanded than before. It’s the latest, sleekest, and shiniest version yet. We have a new device that includes voter suppression, attacks and restrictions on minorities, and loss of life (the old hits), plus a new upgrade of intimidation, which includes the birther conspiracy, the Muslim ban, and the wall.
Old racism said minorities didn’t have the right to vote. Today, new racism says technically they can vote, but we’re going to make it hard for them by imposing voter registration laws and gerrymandering districts, so if they do vote, it won’t count as much. If they go to prison, they’ll never be able to vote again. So, when we, the government, make decisions that affect their lives, they have no say in the matter. Old racism would lynch any man, woman, or child that spoke up about anything. New racism states that black people who protest are terrorist and placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list. Members of the Black Lives Matter movement are under constant surveillance just because they’re tired of the police killing black people. Old racism said black kids were not allowed to attend school with white kids. New racism says schools are funded by property taxes, so if you live in a poor neighborhood, you’ll attend a poor school and get a poor education, thus ensuring you have a poor life. Also, your poor school will prepare you for your future poor life in prison, hence the School to Prison Pipeline. Old Racism said we hate blacks and immigrants. New racism says the 1st black president isn’t even an American citizen, which means he can’t be a legitimate president. Nice try black people, but you can’t have this one. When Trump first announced his Muslim ban during the campaign, he called for a ban on all Muslims. Plus, his wall and his war on Dreamers, makes its seem as if Hispanic people are unwanted here. His rhetoric is offensive to Americans who are Muslim or Hispanic. New racism sends the message without words that you do not belong. This is our soil. To top it off, new racism is killing black and brown people legally, as if their lives never mattered. As of 2017, blacks and Hispanics made up 30% of the US population. They were 48% of police killings and 60% of unarmed people murdered by the police. As compared to whites, who made up 63% of the population, 48% of all police killings, and 37% of unarmed people who died at the hands of the police. As a disclaimer, I understand that most of these issues affect white Americans also, but the fact that minorities are overrepresented in every case, make its seem as if they are being targeted. Which isn’t so absurd, considering the War on Drugs. Law and Order was the new racist way of saying vote for me and I’ll put all the black people in jail for you.
When I think about countries prone to democratic erosion, I think about poor countries, countries with new and unstable democracies, or countries in the state of war or some other emergency, never the United States. America has its issues, but as I’ve been taught, we have a long, rich history of democracy. That is why, it is so easy to overlook that for some Americans, democracy is slipping away piece by piece. Professor Colgan of Brown University stated that “the breakdown of democracy happens when it is unanticipated.” So, my goal is to show that democracy is, indeed, eroding for minorities, so that we can move forward by taking the steps necessary to stop the corrosion of American democracy.
Picture from Atlanta Black Star