America is in turmoil.
Oh you don’t think so? Well, let me give you some names. Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. Oscar Grant. Michael Brown. Walter Scott. Sandra Bland. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray.
What do these names have in common? They were all either killed by police, died in police custody, or were killed by a citizen. Did I mention out of the aforementioned cases Walter Scott and Freddie Gray are the only ones where there may be a potential conviction? The other cases saw defendants acquitted or not indicted. What else? They are all African-American.
The epidemic of African-American deaths by the police has been met with much controversy and crossfire. The Black Lives Matter movement started as a protest against police brutality (more to come on that). In turn, the opposition started an All Lives Matter movement. Communication is failing everywhere we turn because people aren’t listening to each other One side says, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” The opposition replies, “Pants Up! Don’t loot!” Americans have scrambled to pick a side all the while failing to realize they lack seeing the real root of the problem.
Oh yes. That dirty, ugly, filthy word. The word that is over used and under acknowledged. The word that makes you roll your eyes because it totally doesn’t remain. Apparently, racism ceased to exist when President Obama was elected. After all, a black man is in arguably the most powerful position in the world. So, that means everyone is treated unequivocally. Right?
Side Note: If the prior paragraph describes your reaction to hearing “racism,” then we need to sit down and have a serious discussion.
Racism is alive, well, and pressing forward. Except things have changed. It’s no longer lynchings, racial slurs, and fear of walking down the street. It is now implicit. It’s excuses and distractions designed to divert attention. It’s not acknowledging racial prejudice in front of your face. It’s being colorblind.
There’s a movement in America to be colorblind. This means we should not see the color of one’s skin, but see them as people. Color doesn’t matter, but our actions, words, and who we are as an individual should be at the forefront.
Only in part, so hear me out. Yes, we should see people as individuals. Part of recognizing their individuality is seeing who they are. I am African-American. Can’t escape it. Don’t want to. See it. Make peace with it (if you need to do that, then I don’t want you around me anyway), and understand that life will be different for me than it will be for a Caucasian, Mexican, Hispanic, or any other race/ethnicity.
I hear you arguing. I hear you saying everyone has the same opportunities. I hear it. That’s the problem with being colorblind. It looks like we are living in a balanced society where everyone gets the same chance. That may not always be the case. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s some proof.
In the first two quarters of 2015, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 13,604 times.
11,124 were totally innocent (81 percent).
7,158 were black (54 percent).
3,944 were Latino (29 percent).
1,541 were white (12 percent).
That’s a disquieting statistic, huh? I’d say so. Look at the percentage of African-Americans that were randomly stopped and frisked. Why is that? Some would say the police were just doing their job, and I would agree in part. However, the number of those who were found innocent is alarmingly high. At what point do we look at racial profiling as a problem? In this America, we don’t. We justify the statistics (African-Americans have been the lead percentage in stop and frisk since 2002) and blame the victim. Or, throw out other stats to justify being stopped and frisked for no reason.
One of my favorite justifications is the “African-Americans account for only 13% of the population. Yet, they commit 50% of the gross crime in the nation.” I have to laugh at that. Out of all of the black people I know, only two have been to jail for gross crime. That’s two out of hundreds. And I’m supposed to believe we are all murderous thugs? Pffft…
Do you see the problem with being colorblind now? It’s a failure to recognize a simple fact. Our systemic structure treats its members differently according to race. You could add class in there as well.
How do we change this thought process?
The million dollar question. I have an answer. See. Understand. Acknowledge. Stop giving excuses as to why racism plays no part in society. Accepting an individual means understanding the similarities and differences of their life experience. This includes the color of their skin. Stop being colorblind.