Can you imagine a society where someone can walk down the street without fear of being discriminated because of his/her ethnicity? That was the dream of many civil rights activists, such as Martin Luther King Jr. Sadly, though, this dream has not fully come true.
Racism, though some would be loathe to admit it, has been a part of U.S. history since the country’s birth, and even before that around the world. For generations, there have been attempts to stop racism and ethnic discrimination to make everyone equal no matter what their skin color. However, even though we have improved greatly since then, there is still a hint of racism that lurks in the shadows of our modern world. Everybody needs to realize that no matter what the color of someone’s skin is, we are all human, and we are all equal.
One thing that I find interesting about humans is that some of us have a mind-boggling hard time accepting that all human beings are the same on the inside, and the color of our skin does not make us lower beings in the universe. In Hawaii alone, there is a frightening amount of racism, towards both tourists and natives, not to mention other areas around the world.
It is not overtly shown, however. There are few people who are openly racist in America. A “New York Times” article written in August 2014 by Nicholas Kristof says, “It is more of a subconscious attitude.” Society has made us think that black people are more aggressive and dangerous, though that is not true. And, most people subconsciously think of America as “white,” even though it is one of the few “melting pot” countries in the world. From implicit association tests, Kristof finds that “Americans may be factually aware that Lucy Liu is an American actress and Kate Winslet is British, but tests indicated that Americans considered Liu as more foreign than Winslet.”
Why do we think this way? Especially in a country as diverse as America, we should not think of the country as a single race, but as the many ethnic groups and colors it is, and that everyone is the same.
According to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), “African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites,” and “Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population.” We do not like to say it out loud, but the fact remains: colored people are still being discriminated against, even in this modern era.
One recent event that sparked nationwide discontent was the shooting of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown. Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed unarmed Brown in August 2014. Wilson was not indicted, and this has set off waves of unrest, with riots and protests. The shooting has also led to an investigation of the Ferguson police department by the U.S. Justice Department, which “uncovered a pattern of unfair traffic stops, questionable arrests, unreasonable use of force and interference with free speech,” according a Justice Department official. The Ferguson police force is filled with patterns of racial bias, with discrimination mainly against African-Americans. If our own country’s police force, the very people who are supposed to protect us, discriminate against citizens, how are we supposed to feel safe walking down the streets?
Feb. 26, 2015 marked the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. Martin, a 17-year-old African-American boy, was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman. Martin was unarmed, but Zimmerman did not get convicted because there was not enough evidence contradicting Zimmerman’s claim of acting out of self defense. This event also caused riots, walk-outs, and rallies.
This year, Martin’s parents met with Obama at the White House to honor the anniversary. At the event, President Obama said, “Today, on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death, showing all of our kids, all of them, every single day, that their lives matter, that’s part of our task.”
And everyone’s lives matter equally. Different ethnicity does not mean different levels of importance. We are all human. No one should hurt someone solely because of their skin tone or cultural beliefs. Society needs to realize that all humans are created equal, and we need to erase that subconscious belief that tells us otherwise.