Racial Discrimination as a Vital Problem of the American Society
The issue of racial discrimination in post-racial society is still relevant since there are many cases of negative treatment of non-white individuals in the USA. The police often use stop-and-frisk policy suspecting African Americans of a crime. White citizens of the USA try to avoid the black residential areas considering non-whites as rude and violent personalities. Moreover, when a black-skinned person is abused or even killed by a white-skinned one, the court often acquits the criminal and imprisons the victim or judges him/her posthumously. Regardless of these facts, white-skinned Americans deny the existence of racial discrimination as well as white privilege and state that the minorities invent everything. Such disputes cannot be left without attention, and all the parties should be listened to in order to define whether the problem is essential. Although the majorities argue that there is no racism, the problem is still of vital importance since the minorities suffer from oppression, are often suspected of crimes, and become the victims of groundless stereotypes, which make their existence intolerable.
The fear of black-skinned individuals to be stopped and frisked by the police is an urgent issue of the American society.
According to the Report on Arrests Arising From the New York City Police Department’s Stop-and-Frisk Practices, “about one half of SQF [Stop Question and Frisk] arrests are of black individuals, about one third are of Hispanics, and one in ten are of white individuals” (Schneiderman 16). The victim of such policy, Kasiem Walters, claims that he was stopped and frisked without any reason eight times, and all these times the police treated him roughly (Kim). They cried and searched him without any explanation. However, one cannot definitely explain the motive for such attitude. Probably, the main reason is a personal negative approach towards the ethnic minorities. The statistics shows that the number of the police officers responsible for stop-and-frisk of non-white citizens is small, which means that there are always the same groups of people using this practice (Evans, Maragh, and Porter 131). They often suspect African Americans of possessing a weapon, which is the main reason that allows them to detain and search a passerby. Even if the persons’ behavior is ordinary, many police officers ignore all the rules and laws and stop such individuals for hack value. Therefore, racial minorities are often afraid of walking the street and state that they have lost “their trust in the police” (Gelman, Fagan, and Kiss 813). Such a situation cannot remain unnoticed by the government of the USA since every country should protect its citizens’ rights and freedoms irrespective of their skin color.
Not only the police officers but also the white-skinned citizens discriminate African Americans and other ethnic minorities. Several years ago, an inciting incident happened with the seventeen-year-old boy, who was killed while walking home from the shop. The case became an international scandal because the killer was acquitted of a crime. The boy’s name was Trayvon Martin, and his killer, George Zimmerman, was a white-skinned resident of Florida. When he shot the boy in his back, the police did not arrest him because, according to his attorney, O’Mara, the man acted in self-defense (Norton). However, in “The Battle for ‘Trayvon Martin’: Mapping a Media Controversy Online and Off-Line,” Graeff, Stempeck, and Zuckerman state that Zimmerman pursued Martin despite the police dispatcher’s warning not to pursue him, and he initiated the encounter. Moreover, the man had reported his suspicions about black-skinned individuals several times, and this fact proves his personal negative attitude towards racial minorities. Nevertheless, Zimmerman was acquitted because the lawyers and most of the witnesses were white-skinned, and they failed to protect Martin defending the killer. Such a case is not unique. It happens because the police are allowed to shoot innocent people suspecting them of a crime. Although Martin was killed not by the police, the court was more likely to believe the white man rather than to listen to the boy’s parents and their attorney. Unfortunately, the whole system is so ingrained that it will be difficult to break it. However, till ethnic minorities cannot walk safely the streets, the problem of racial discrimination is of vital importance, and it must be solved.
Another issue concerning racial discrimination in the USA is white privilege. Wanda Blanchett claims that the privilege of whites is a social, individual, structural, political, and economic phenomenon of the American society (24). It is related to the fact that white people are in a majority. Moreover, they have good work conditions, higher salaries, and better schools for their children than African American, Hispanic, or Asian citizens have. On the contrary, non-white individuals often complain that they cannot find a good job, their salaries are too low, and their children are oppressed at school. Such an attitude is formed under the influence of social media and other factors. For instance, in the mass media and films, non-white individuals are frequently portrayed in a negative perspective. Vera and Gordon claim, “Hollywood spreads the fictions of whiteness around the world” (qtd. in Yancy and Rycer). In the majority of American movies, the heroes are white, and the theme of race and ethnicity is raised in many scenes. However, white-skinned people deny the existence of their privilege or just do not recognize it. For instance, Peggy McIntosh claims, “I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects” (3). Since early childhood, people are taught that speaking about race and racism is forbidden. Therefore, they simply do not admit that there is a white privilege because they are accustomed not to speak about it. Nevertheless, if the issue is not discussed, it does not mean that it does not exist. Although white-skinned people deny the existence of white privilege, they cannot deny the fact that due to some reasons ethnic minorities are discriminated against in different spheres, including social and economic ones.
The problem of racism is of high importance because African Americans become the victims of prejudices and stereotypes, and this fact influences the quality of their lives negatively. In ancient times, black-skinned people were held in servitude by white individuals. They did dirty and hard work, served as menials, and got minimal payment, habitation, and food for it. Presently, there is no slavery, but the prejudices and stereotypes about African Americans have been preserved. For instance, black-skinned people are considered more aggressive and less intelligent than European Americans, and people believe that they are inclined to stealing and criminality. When they walk too slow or too fast, have their hands in pockets, or wear hoodies, they may be suspected of something illegal. For example, Zimmerman did not like Martin’s appearance and the way he walked, and he killed him claiming that his behavior seemed violent and aggressive. However, his prejudice, as well as many others, is groundless. Such prejudices are personally-mediated, which means that a person invents something about the representatives of the particular races and spreads this rumor among his/her friends. The more people hear it, the more possibility is that the rumor will become a stereotype. Consequently, innocent people suffer from prejudices only due to their skin color or other peculiarities of their race.
Regardless of the complaints of ethnic minorities that they are racially discriminated, many people still deny the existence of the problem and argue that black-skinned individuals invent everything. For example, the Rhode Island’s Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello, who is white states, “I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of the phrase ‘white privilege.’ I don’t think there is a white privilege” (Parker). The politician is confident that the minorities blame white individuals groundlessly. It is always easier to blame somebody instead of acting: for example, taking advantages and seeking for a good opportunity. The reason for their so-called “discrimination” at work is the fact that they are in a minority, and the number of white-skinned workers is always greater. However, according to Parker, it happens not due to racial discrimination but to the non-white’s uncertainty in their skills and abilities. Nevertheless, the fact is that African Americans and other ethnicities still complain that they feel oppressed and harassed in the world of whites.
Nowadays, many anti-racism movements and strategies are supported by the volunteers and government. One of such movements is “Black Lives Matter,” which appeared in 2012 after Zimmerman was acquitted for his murder of Martin (Nagel 1). The national organization is working against racists and killing of black-skinned people by the police and other individuals. However, its actions are not enough to overcome racism. This is the reason it is necessary to create other organizations and strategies to prevent racial discrimination in the nearest future.
The USA is post-racial and democratic country; however, one cannot deny that the issue of racism and racial discrimination is still of vital importance there. The representatives of ethnic minorities state that they cannot walk safely because they are afraid of being stopped and frisked by the police. In addition, they cannot find good jobs and feel oppressed and discriminated due to their skin color. Moreover, the case of Martin confirmed their apprehension, and the fact that his killer was acquitted destroyed the hopes and expectations of many African Americans. They lose their trust in the police and state, and they cannot live without fear in their native country. Although many US citizens argue that there is no racism, and the notion “white privilege” was invented by non-whites, there are too many incidents that prove the opposite. If there is nothing done with the current situation today, tomorrow it will be too late, and anti-racial war may occur. Therefore, it is of vital importance to start acting against racial discrimination in order to protect innocent citizens from groundless violence and prejudices and become a really post-racial society.