The George Floyd Revolution: Is America Racist?

People migrate to the United States for many reasons with the chief being economics. I will also factor in those who go to the USA for academic reasons and the percentage that go there for freedom and justice. Yes, most folks from countries where they face prosecutions for certain inherent variations dream of going to a country where they can live freely and America has been that welcoming ground for decades. It just so happens that regardless of a person's migration reasons economics is always a part of the package they stand to benefit from nevertheless, some Americans and others who reside within her boarders apparently are still grappling with a systemic problem even in the 21st century: racism.

One of my first shocks about racism in America was account from WW II about negros soldiers fighting alongside their white counterparts at many battle frontlines but when they returned home they were prohibited from using the same water fountain. While it is true that WWII ended 75 years ago and the civil rights act was passed 56 years ago, the corrosive effects of racism still linger in the American society by people who just won’t let go. Also, why it is obvious that the picture of racism mostly depicts a white person illtreating a black person, America’s racism is surprisingly both ways. In short, there are just some folks on both sides of the aisle that won’t let go and those folks are found almost everywhere: in the workplaces, in the police force and surprisingly even in the churches. What is interesting is that the individual behavior of the people with racial tendencies almost goes out to make a blanket statement of America being categorically racist. Is that true?

Is America a racist country?

Well, there is nowhere in the US constitution that endorses racism. In fact, lots of strides through legislations have been made over the years to address racism in America and enforce equality. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 alone is a landmark legislation that quells all things racist in government and all of her auxiliaries however, there are areas of the American society that seem to show an unequal treatment of people based on race. One of such areas is the criminal justice system where records show that black people are still disproportionately affected. Yes, even though blacks make up a mere approximately 14 percent of America’s population they are the overwhelming majority in the prison system. One may ask Why? Are there things of criminal nature that blacks do more than whites? Actually, I don't know. Are there things of criminal nature that blacks and whites do yet one gets more scolded than the others? Probably. For example, a good percentage of black and white young people smoke weed at the same level yet blacks are the ones caught in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system. One would think there would be a proportional representation of the crimes after all whites are in the majority so why aren't they the most imprisoned? Well, a lot of explanation could be given to address this concern. One has to do with bail money. Yes, a poor person may not be able to afford bail money thereby making him to linger in jail for a longer period of time before a hearing compares to a person who can be easily bailed out by himself or family members. Also, a poor person may be the one going in and out of jail due to poor choices. Indeed, poverty leads to lots of poor choices and that is why the rate of recidivism is higher among the poor than other groups. And just to clarify, in America most poor people happen to be black. My explanation here is not exhaustive of the reasons of what seem to be a bias criminal justice system.

The latest episode of racial tensions in America apparently summarizes the privilege vs prejudice of skin color, an age-old talking point. Let's take a moment and hypothetically hit the reverse button to replay the scene of George Floyd's however, this time let's re-tone his melanin with a white color. Will we have the same outcome? In a pool of public opinion, the results could probably be a resounding "NO." So, what is this thing about skin color that America can't just overcome even in this day and age? This is the country with the brightest minds and a unique history of great inventions and stellar problem-solving capabilities. Why can’t America solve the racial problem? My only answer to this is Human Tendencies. Human will do what they want to do, regardless.

Is this thing about police and civilians that sometimes goes wrong peculiar to America?

My answer is no, not an American thing. It's a human thing. It just so happens that police in the United States are mostly whites which is a direct representation of their population demographic. Also, because there are so much vested interests in America everything about her goes under the microscope. With a population of 330 million I can estimate there are thousands of police interactions with civilians of ALL RACES THAT GO WELL DAILY therefore it’s only unfair to use isolated incidents to define the character of America. There are more non-racist things done in America around the clock; it’s only that the racist acts of a few that receive the most publicity. This brings me back to why people migrate to the United States in the first place: better opportunities in terms of education, lifestyle, health and of course economics than their places of origin. If America was that racist of a country, why are people of color still flooding at her gates? What about the goodwill of the US government that impacts the lives of people of color all over the world. The United States Aid for International Development (USAID) and the President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are just two of the many ways the US government provides relief, employment, education, healthcare, scholarships and many more to countries face with different challenges. Is it a MUST that the United States provide these interventions? The answer is NO however I am certain their moral compass of obligation to the less fortunate cannot allow them to withhold their generosity to people, with no reference to skin color.

Let’s also look on the flip side and take a country of negros and ask about the police-civilian relations. For instance, Liberia fits the definition of a negro country not just because of its predominant black population but her constitution is crystal clear about her negro pride therefore if the narrative of skin color depicting the severity of police wrong actions is true, there shouldn’t be any problem with black police officers interacting with black civilians in a black country. Right? Well, let’s take a case in point a year ago in the township of Kingsville, Montserrado County when police allegedly killed an 18-year-old young man (Abraham Temah) and injured several others in their bid to disburse a protest. Live rounds of AK-47 reportedly from the protest scene were displayed in the newspapers evidencing the use of deadly force on civilians. Let’s also look at our current event, COVID-19, and see how well has the police in Liberia interacted with the civilians in this time of uncertainty. In a recent interview with Prof. Ken Shotts from the Stanford graduate School of Business, former president Sirleaf acknowledged that “the militant approach of stopping people movement due to limited information on Ebola was wrong.” One of such approach was the infamous siege of the West Point community in August of 2014 which showed how misaligned the government’s Ebola strategy was in the beginning however nine months later the government did apply a social approach in the same community to restore confidence. Ironically it appears her successor did not adopt the lessons learned from the use of militancy to solve a clinical problem during the onset of COVID-19. Citizens were reportedly beaten and injured by law enforcement officers (LEOs) for “violating” orders. Was that the option of last resort? If similar incident had occurred in the United States by white LEOs, would it have been wolfly cried as racism?

Let’s go back to the United States and talk about communities where predominant black police force are serving black populations. How well do they treat them? For instance, the injustice saga in Philadelphia where then little-known hip-hop star Meek Mill lost a good chunk of his life to the criminal justice system at the hands of “dirty cops” who happened to be black. Why if it were white police officers that subjected Mr. Mill to such an inhumane treatment and injustice? Was Philly going to be set ablaze? Did advocacy groups such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) take note of the ill-treatment of Meek Mill? What did they do?

I have provided these examples to show that whenever police interact with civilians under certain circumstances the result could turn out bad due to many factors such as unprofessionalism, lack of proper training, discrimination and of course, sometimes racism.

America is not a racist country; however, America like most countries around the world has people with discriminatory, prejudicial and racial tendencies and sometimes some of those people happen to be in position of power like law enforcement and employers. What is important is that citizens need to know their rights and shine the light on those people whenever they exhibit those tendencies so they can go through the due process. Let’s treat the racial cases on an individual basis than to cast an entire country of being racist. Let the folks who commit their crime pay for it through the criminal justice system instead of mob violence.

The United States is not a perfect country, but she definitely is NOT a racist country!

Written by Jusu Gow