Racism and discrimination of the African-Americans in the United States of America have been a major issue that began way back during the colonial and slavery era. One would think that after such a long period of fighting for human rights and the changes made in the constitution to make life better and equal for the black Americans, discrimination would be outdated.
On the contrary, the issue continues to gain weight, especially in the police force. For a long time, African-Americans have been victims of discriminatory racial profiling by the police.
Racism is clearly seen in more of modern socioeconomic inequality, which is in the education system, employment and politics, and in some cases, housing. Racism against blacks is mostly usually rooted in the fact that the white people are usually perceived to be superior and the blacks well, relatively inferior.
Driving as an African-American is sometimes a nightmare due to discrimination and harassment by the police. This problem is not something new to the people of color as it has been in existence since the era of slavery. The number of African-Americans that are pulled over by the police and frisked is way higher than that of the white Americans. A study showed that in New York alone, 80% of the people pulled over by the police are blacks and Latinos.
Eighty-five percent of this number was frisked as compared to only 8% of the white people stopped. In 1998, 35 years after the civil rights legislation, that is the civil rights act, US army sergeant Rossano V. Gerald and his son were driving through Oklahoma. Throughout this drive, they were stopped not just once but twice. In addition to this, they were greatly harassed on their second stop.
Not only did the stop last approximately two and a half hours, but they were locked in a car with fans blowing hot air and no air conditioning. Moreover, they were told that if they tried to escape, the dogs would attack. It is clear that no person of color is generally safe from these acts of harassment.
It does not matter whether one is a law-abiding citizen with a good job, the car they drive, their age, or which parts of the country they live, as long as their skin tone is black, they will be subjected to this kind of treatment (Nunnally, 2012).
It is mostly perceived that drug trafficking is a crime mostly committed by minority ethnic groups. The abuse of power by law enforcers can be blamed on the government war against drug abuse. It is apparent that the war on drugs in the United States targets blacks and Latinos.
The police, in the name of fighting drugs, tend to stop people according to their skin color routinely. In the past, there have been many African-Americans who have been arrested because of drug trafficking and drug offenses. This has fostered the perception that blacks are mainly the offenders in this particular crime.
Consequently, the police stop more African-Americans, while the white drivers receive less attention. In addition to this, once arrested, 21% of African-Americans receive mandatory minimum sentences, and 20% are imprisoned (Alexander Jr, 2005).
Racial profiling by the police is mostly seen in the manner that they treat African-American suspects and crime offenders. More often, the police are seen using deadly force when dealing with people of color. Moreover, according to a certain poll, 45% of African-Americans said that the police have discriminated against them while only 7% of the white Americans could say the same.
There are numerous cases of people of color that have been brutally gunned down by the police on the streets. This fostered the development of ‘the stolen lives project’ (Amaranto, Steinberg, Castellano & Mitchell, 2003). This project came into being after the justice department failed to provide a detailed report on how the police use force.
This article gives a list of lives that have been taken by the police as they abuse power and get to get away with it because of the lack of evidence against them (Allah, 2006). There are cases of the police killing people who do not even resist arrest; they make them lie on the ground and blatantly shoot them.
Many are the times that African-Americans have taken to the streets to demonstrate, taking the Ferguson case as an example, where Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown. Michael and his friend Dorian Johnson had just stolen Cigarillos from a convenience store when they got an encounter with Wilson, the police officer (“Don’t Shoot,” 2014).
He confronted the two young men, and they got into a fight as Brown struggled to get the gun from officer Wilson, and this struggle led to the shooting of Brown. This particular incident brought uproar from the African-Americans of Ferguson. Brown was unarmed, and his friend, Dorian, claimed that right before Wilson pulled the trigger, Brown had put his hands in the air and shouted, “don’t shoot”(Perez, 2015).
A report released later showed that there was a struggle between the victim and the officer, but no proof of Brown uttering those words; thus, the claims were dismissed. On the brighter side of this incident, further investigation was done to highlight the reasons behind the mistrust between blacks and the police.
The report showed that police blatantly abuse the Constitutional rights of the people, specifically the African-Americans, in Ferguson. It showed that there had been cases of mistreatment by the police, courts, and the municipal government (Karl, 2004). This clearly showed why the small town exploded and went on protesting in the streets for weeks.
The African-Americans population is also discriminated against when it comes to employment. The number of jobless African-Americans is relatively higher than that of their white counterparts. This has fueled a lot of tension between the Obama administration and the black congressional caucus.
Blacks are generally viewed as less intelligent and hardworking and are mostly tied to violence and gang-related activities. They have fewer job connections in their communities, and their credit history is not as good as required (Alexander Jr, 2005). Most companies tend to ask for credit history, which is not good for those who have been unemployed; therefore, it is relatively hard for some blacks to get employment opportunities.
Racism and discrimination are issues that are still in existence in the United States. The department of justice should keenly look into the amount of prejudice and discrimination that African-Americans face. The fact that police officers in Ferguson have to wear cameras is a positive start, but they should work to foster a community where this is not necessary. The government should also ensure that jobs are equally available for all races. This will be a step towards getting rid of the unnecessary evil of racial discrimination.
Alexander Jr, R. (2005). Racism, African-Americans, and social justice. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Allah, M. (2006). Police brutality and Stolen Lives. New York Amsterdam News. 33-42.
Amaranto, E., Steinberg, J., Castellano, C., & Mitchell, R. (2003). Police stress interventions. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 3(1), 47.
Don’t shoot. (2014). Christian Century, 131(26), 7.
Karl, J. (2004). Police-Black community relations in postwar Philadelphia: race and criminalization in urban social spaces, 1945-1960. 89, 118-134.
Nunnally, S. C. (2012). Trust in Black America: race, discrimination, and politics. New York: NYU Press.