Racial inequality is by far, one of the greatest challenges facing our country today. By every measurable standard, people of color face inequality at virtually every level. Some levels of inequality are obvious to most people. Examples include, racial profiling by police; poorer school districts and less availability for higher education; blatant and overt poverty, to name just a few.
These stereotypical examples are in the news and social media daily. The less obvious examples that many people do not recognize as racial inequality are none of the stereotypical examples above. For example, in March, 2017, President Donald Trump spoke at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He stated “We have many jobs pouring back into the country. I think that’s going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It’s jobs. What people want now, they want jobs…” What the President failed to mention however, is that even a black Harvard graduate, when compared with a white Harvard graduate, blacks are still offered less important positions and lower pay. This may translate to the fact that there is a huge disparity in home ownership between blacks and people of color and those of white home ownership. This may translate to a disparity in tax implications, access to good health care, mortality rates, even the quality of the food available are additional examples.
It’s time America, its’ political leaders and all its’ people are made aware of and understand the facts of racial inequality and the impact on current and future generations. We need to begin now. The longer the wait, the greater the inequality chasm becomes. The way to begin is more difficult, but must begin with me and my generation. If not us, who? If not now, when? During the civil rights movement, many blacks and persons of color attempted to effect change. They were successful in bringing forth some changes and rights for “colored” people. That movement, however did not address the inequality issues that continue to still exist today.
In my opinion, my generation is one of the first to nearly universally agree that racial inequality, bigotry and hatred must be stopped once and for all. Social awareness and social consciousness has exposed the facts and the ugly truths about this long-standing injustice. My generation stands on the precipice of making real strides in lessening the inequalities. The question is, how best to accomplish this? The most obvious way is of course, to speak up and speak out – loudly – whenever you witness, read or hear racism taking place.
If you hear racial slurs or jokes, make it known that you do not approve and are offended by such behavior. Saying nothing makes you complicit and allows the person making such comments believe that you are in agreement. If you address the comment or behavior, rather than the person, it provides that individual the opportunity to think about their actions and comments. If everyone in my generation was to begin letting people know that this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, real change can begin.
We can lobby for and support laws that are nondiscriminatory. Racism does not happen only at an individual level, it happens at corporate, governmental and institutional levels as well. By writing letters to elected officials, community organizers, newspapers, I can make my voice heard. Contact the media whenever you believe their coverage is biased, or even when there is no coverage of an important action or event. My support of non-discrimination laws will help ensure that steps are taken to prevent ongoing, unfair practices. This will not only further educate myself, but will make other individuals aware of the unfair rules currently in place. Eventually, the reason for these types of laws will not only help people of color, but will become ingrained as “the norm”. There are many local, national and even international organizations that serve to abolish racism and lift people from poverty. I think volunteering and/or donating time and money to these organizations will promote further racial and multi-cultural understanding.
By widening my circle of friends, acquaintances and associates, we can learn and celebrate the differences between our groups. Joining or forming a school club that seeks and promotes all ethnic groups would be another great way to reduce racial prejudice. Encourage everyone from all backgrounds to get involved. Sharing of customs, ideas, thoughts, holidays, and events may help turn the tide. Understanding is key! The more understanding and awareness of others, breaks down barriers and fosters harmony. One focus of a club should be to look at unfair policies and practices at your school and, as a group, make those known to school officials. Additionally, ask school officials to make attending anti-racism classes mandatory for graduation. It is imperative that students learn to accept and understand each other as well as their differences. Request change, demand inclusivity! Often times, many Americans do not even realize inequality and racial prejudice exists. Until and unless people are made to understand, change simply cannot happen. For example, in a Harvard University study, they found that “black men were almost three times as likely to be unemployed”.
Their findings also showed that black men are 3.5 times more likely to have been incarcerated than white males”. This study speaks volumes. As further evidence, the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy found that “the War on Drugs targeted on black ghettos. Since Ronald Reagan took office, we have built 1,000 new prisons and jails, many crowded beyond capacity. Crowded with whom? The answer is blacks from ghettos. By 1990 nearly one of every four young black males in the United States was under the control of the criminal justice system.,” What has this taught us? It has taught us to punish black populations. It has not focused on solutions nor repairing or correcting the problems.
Yet another way to help change the culture of inequality is to create and establish mentoring programs for black males. With many of the adult black males incarcerated, or uninvolved in their children’s daily lives, there are few positive black male role models. This perpetuates another generation of fatherless families and single mothers trying to survive. My belief is if we push for legislation for better schools and teachers, drug avoidance programs, mentoring classes and the like, we can see a reverse in the injustice of punishing the poor, the blacks, and other impoverished groups.
We need to stand up, speak up, recruit like-minded people to join together to put an end to racial inequality once and for all. One definition of reflexive is, “Performed as a reflex, without conscious thought. Instinctive, automatic, involuntary..” This should be the goal of my generation.To raise the consciousness, to uplift and educate, to end the imbalance, to banish distrust and hatred of other people, until such time as we no longer need to even think about it. That it becomes so ingrained in the thinking of all Americans, that it becomes automatic to no longer distinguish between nor discriminate against any races of human beings.