The reality of American racism cant be denied - GulfToday

The reality of American racism cant be denied


George Floyd. File

Lisa Padilla, Tribune News Service

Racism has saturated US society for so long that some people — including representatives in public office — continue to deny its existence.

“Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country,” said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in response to President Joe Biden’s address to the nation on April 29. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., recently said he believes “racism does not exist in America.” And Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, declared there is not “systemic racism in America,” while affirming a recent “Confederate Heritage Month” in his state.

These statements reflect how unwilling some of our representatives are to recognize the truth that racism is present in almost every facet of this country, from health care and education to the justice system.

In 2019, after years of efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, 28.9 million non-elderly US residents were uninsured. Low income, people of color make up the majority of these uninsured.

And the COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the health care access gap. The Centers for Disease Control reports that the infant mortality rate in some zip codes in the United States — mostly in Southern states — is close to 10.75% for Black babies. That means 10.75% of Black babies born today will die within a year, twice the rate for white babies.

In education, Black and brown students are far more likely to be disciplined or suspended than their white classmates. Also, their teachers are almost entirely white, as only 7% of public school teachers are Black, according to a survey by the US Department of Education. And the disparities don’t end with grade school: Once in college, the six-year graduation rate for white students is 25% higher than it is for Black students.

The criminal justice system is also rife with racism. According to a Council on Criminal Justice report, Latinx and Black Americans are now committing fewer crimes, but there is a wider disparity in sentencing. They are also spending more time in prison than white people when the same type of crime is committed.

Of course, George Floyd’s murder by a police officer on May 25, 2020, was not an isolated incident. Black people are killed by police every day. Since March 29, 2021, which was when testimony began in the Floyd case, at least 69 deaths have taken place at the hands of law enforcement, with half of those deaths being of Black or Brown people. Overall, the rate of Black people being killed by police officers is twice as high as that of white Americans.

In the face of daily evidence of US racism over the long swath of history, it is ludicrous to deny that racism exists in this country. It is time to stop debating — we must address this issue straight on in the systems where it is pervasive and work toward creating an anti-racist society.

The president and the US Congress have the opportunity to ensure that populations of color can live past their first birthday, get an education, access healthcare, and not spend a majority of their lives in the penal system.

George Floyd

George Perry Floyd Jr. was an African American man murdered by police during an arrest after a store clerk alleged he had passed a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis. Derek Chauvin, one of four police officers who arrived on the scene, knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. After his death, protests against police brutality, especially towards black people, quickly spread across the United States and globally. As he was dying he said “I can’t breathe” which was used as a rallying cry during subsequent protests.

Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Floyd grew up in Houston, playing football and basketball throughout high school and college. He was a hip hop artist and served as a mentor in his religious community. Between 1997 and 2005, he was convicted of eight crimes. He served four years in prison after accepting a plea bargain for a 2007 aggravated robbery in a home invasion.

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