Current Racial Struggles in the U.S.

McKenna Childs

America. The mixing pot country. With over 403 spoken languages and 567 indegenous tribes, the United States is an extremely diverse place. Though we have so much diversity, some still refuse to accept this fact. The US has a long and alarming history of segregation, hate, and non-acceptance. 

Let us start with current issues in the African American community. This year has been eye opening for Americans outside of this community, but the reason behind that is painful. Following the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by a group of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction. Protests sparked and many joined in to the cause by signing petitions and participating in social media trends. In reaction to this, hate groups started movements to counteract black lives matter, and riots began to erupt all across the country. Tensions between law enforcement heightened, and raised the debate on whether we should fully stand with police officers or fight for change. It has been a little less than 6 months since that happened, and the Black Lives Matter is still relevant in mainstream media. Since January 1st 2020, 157 black individuals have been shot and killed by police officers. 

Now let’s move to indegenous populations. The MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indegenous Women) and a “trend” on popular social media app TikTok called #nomorestolensisters highlighted more than 5,600 indegenous women who have gone missing or have been murdered since the beginning of last year. TikTok has become a large platform for indegeous people all over the world to share their stories and experiences, as well as their fascinating traditions. Discussions of indegenous traditions have led us to question our own traditions like Columbus Day. Throughout this year even more interest has been gained in changing the name of Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples Day” to commemorate the lives that were lost because of Christopher Columbus and the colonization of America. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year has been especially hard for Asian American people. Because the pandemic originated in China, many people (including the president of the United States) have made xenophobic and racist comments, blaming Asians for a disease that was out of their control. According to The Pew Research Center, Asian Americans have said that they have experienced more discrimination or hateful comments this year. 39% have reported that others have acted as if they didn’t want to be around them due to their race. 31% have been subject to slurs or racially-motivated “jokes”. 26% have feared that someone was going to physically harm them over their race. Finally, 36% have worried that they would seem suspicious if they wore a protective mask in public. 

Lastly, let us take a moment to look at the struggles that Hispanic and Latinx communities have faced over the course of this year. In 2017, following the election of Donald J. Trump, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) went through several reforms. A new policy forced immigrants seeking asylum to be locked in detention facilities. These facilities have reported that children are being locked in cages, and immigrants are being treated extremely poorly. Many detention centers lack quality air conditioning, adequate shelter, food, water, blankets, sanitary products, and the capacity to fit the amount of people inside. During June, ICE began to use a disinfectant in the facilities every 15 minutes in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, detained individuals were not given proper protective equipment while the industrial-grade disinfectant was being used, causing irritation of eyes, skin, nose, and lungs.  On top of all of this, the separation of children from their parents ended, but 666 children are still being held in facilities due to poor documentation and inability to locate their parents, according to Lee Gelernt, the ACLU Lawyer leading a court challenge against the Trump Administration’s “no tolerance” separation policy. 

Overall, this has been an extremely difficult year for minorities and ethnic individuals. However, it has been made extra clear that it is important to use the privileges you have to help others and raise awareness. Talking about race can make people feel uncomfortable, but it is now more important than ever to stray from our comfort zones and fight for reformation and change. 

If you are not a minority and wish to broaden your perspective on what it feels like to be discriminated against, consider reading White Fragility. If you want to open your eyes and see if you actually do have a bias depending on race, you can take the implicit bias (race IAT) here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/indexrk.htm . If you wish to learn more about what it feels like to be an indigenous person living in the US and how we should reform our bonds with aboriginals, consider reading Stolen from Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities. 

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