In a few Western nations, unfortunately, the scourge of racism is as present as in the United States. Historians emphasize that it is not just an aberrant "subjective feeling" shared by some segments of the population, but that it has been a structural factor in the economic-social formation of the country, even before its foundation, which is still manifest today. Be in very different ways from those of slavery. Obama himself, until now the only African-American president of the USA, ended his term expressing his impotence because of the little that had been done during the same to reduce the gap of inequality and racial hatred.
Those who have not experienced any discrimination during their lives often tend to dismiss their existence, especially when it comes to racial discrimination. It is common to find affirmations that racism does not exist that it is part of the past as the system that generated it - colonialism; those who dare to denounce some act of racism and defend their rights are quickly labeled as resentful, or at worst blamed for the social inequalities they suffer. However, the Venezuelan sociologist and doctor in social sciences Esther Pineda, states in her most recent research entitled "Racism, stigma and daily life: Being Afro-descendant in America and the Caribbean" -developed as part of her postdoctoral studies at the Central University of Venezuela- that, racial discrimination contrary to the generalized conception did not disappear with colonialism (Jost 1007). On the contrary, at present, it is part of daily life in America and the Caribbean, but it has developed more subtle, almost imperceptible, but also more efficient mechanisms through which to manifest and maintain itself. Of these people consulted 99% said they know what racism is, 96% consider that there is racism in America, 95% of people of African descent claim to have witnessed or known of some act of racism, and 70% claim to have been a victim of racism at some time.
Dr. Esther Pineda says that "this form of racial discrimination is manifested in the different situations, scenarios and interactive processes of which they participate as the school environment, incisive questions about their origin, distrust in public spaces but also private, teasing and disqualification because of the color of their skin, ethnic heritage, and physical appearance; the placing on suspicion and unjustified searches by security organs, folklorization, trivialization and ridicule of their culture, exclusion of the formation of social groups whether for games, school or extracurricular activities, work, among others (Alridge, Derrick & Maurice 29). It is expressed in the differential treatment by teachers and employers, but also within the family group; as well as in the difficulties for the establishment of effective relationships whether interracial or interracial under promotion and exhortation to improve the race.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died of suffocation at the hands of a policeman. This black man was selling cigarettes illegally in one of the thousands of corners in New York. This was reason enough for a police officer to immobilize him to death; even though he was unarmed and shouted several times that he could not breathe (Ericson 19). The latest police abuses have brought to light a scourge that extends like an oil stain across the United States: racial hatred. This ideology or political doctrine enjoys good health there, despite the fact that the last authority of the State is black.
Racism is still very much in force in the US and, two years after the death of Michael Brown, killed in August 2014 in Missouri, at only 18 years of age, relations with the police have not improved in Ferguson, the suburb of Saint Louis where the unfortunate events occurred. Nothing has changed. The foundations of racial coexistence continue to weaken silently but implacably. The agent was saved from the corresponding sentence, even though the investigation did not show that Brown had made suspicious gestures. The law of the easy trigger is imposed.
First, it must be recognized that there is racism, prejudice, and discrimination, but that step is not enough because what is urgent is to create a social strategic plan that needs funding and political will. The recipe is not only that there are more black policemen, because in the end they will be captured by the system and suffer the same faults as their white colleagues (Ericson 17). The solution is to transform the system through education and integration, and that will take a long time - a couple of generations - to really bear fruit. The proliferation of firearms is one of the biggest obstacles to this because it increases the confusion - and fear - of the police agents.
The problem is the hatred that is sheltered in the asymmetry of the system, in the lack of opportunities for the poorest, which are usually African-American communities. The truth is that racial differences are enormous. For example, for every six dollars that a white person has, blacks only have one. Another fact: there are more convicted African-Americans of similar crimes, up to 20 times more. And of the 2.3 million inmates that exist in the US, one million of them are black, that is, 43%, a very high figure if one takes into account that they represent 13% of the population of the entire country (Weitzer & Steven, 54). Blacks suffer more school failure, more police abuse and are less prosperous than whites.
In the labor field, poverty continues to feed into the pockets of the African-American population in large cities. And the discrimination that arises from this latent racism translates into grievances as severe as the fact that a young black man is 21 times more likely to die shot by a policeman than a white one, according to statistics, or that even though African-Americans they only represent 13% of the total of Americans, they carry more than 30% of the arrests.
This is an undeniable reality that must be taken into account when analyzing such dramatic episodes as this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Three people were killed after serious altercations that followed a march by white supremacists, protesting the City Council's decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who led the Southern Confederate states during the Civil War (Goff & Kimberly 179). The municipal authorities consider it necessary to remove the monument because it represents one of the darkest chapters in US history when slavery was still legal. One of the victims was run over by a neo-Nazi who had just participated in the march of the supremacists and who later overwhelmed a crowd protesting precisely for that demonstration.
Everything surrounding this repugnant case shows that the embers of the civil war that bled the US between 1861 and 1865 have not yet been extinguished. In fact, they are recurrently revived in an increasingly polarized society, with the danger that this represents. Especially because, as people say, although in the country today all laws consecrate equality -as it cannot be otherwise- and, since the great struggles of the 60s, there have been extraordinary advances in the field of civil rights, racism and discrimination are still open wounds.
But the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of the statue itself should also lead Americans to reflect on the spurious use that groups with entirely partisan interests make of history, manipulating it at will; something that happens, as seen, in the United States, but that happens in almost every corner of the world. In this sense, Americans must combat the risks that both nationalism and its melancholic longings of a univocal vision of the history of a country, and the revisionism of those who seek to rubble the past, with all its mistakes and successes, instead of overcoming it. A good example of the latter is found in the United Kingdom, which today maintains without traumas the statue of the only dictator who has had in its modern history, Oliver Cromwell, regicide of Charles I of England, located no less than before the Parliament of the Monarchy par excellence.
In the workplace, although the rejection of applicants for a specific job is not explicitly due to their ethnic affiliation, this continues to be one of the privileged criteria for making decisions regarding the hiring of personnel, mainly in sales and customer service positions. For its part in the media "Americans witness a symbolic annihilation of Afro-descendants, they do not appear, and when they do so they will be in roles, discourses and representations loaded with prejudices and stereotypes that evoke marginality, poverty, misery, prostitution, servitude or criminality. " In the case of women, these representations are characterized by objectification and hyper sexualization due to their gender and ethnicity. This fact, according to the researcher and doctor in social sciences Esther Pineda, has serious consequences in the daily life because these stereotypes have contributed to the racialization of crime, but also, to the criminalization of racial, giving way to the creation of racial profiles by part of the private security organs and of the States, which translates into practices of police brutality and the disproportionate use of lethal force against the Afro-descendant population (Johnson 124).
Also, the Afro-descendant population has limited or non-existent access to leadership spaces, political parties, elected positions and political decision-making. This fact, of course, will have a negative impact on the social situation of people of African descent whose interests and needs are often ignored and postponed in the design of public policies. According to the expert "one of the peculiarities of American and Caribbean racism is that by not developing explicitly, and instrumentalized through language, jokes, proverbs, nicknames, avoidance, doubt, suspicion, condescension, questioning, omission, invisibilization, neglect, postponement, among other naturalized and everyday practices; creates the conditions for this type of discrimination to be carried out with total impunity. "
Although in America there have been advances in the design and approval of legal instruments, the establishment of criminal or aggravating types to sanction discriminatory acts, as well as the creation of specialized institutions aimed at preventing, attending and sanction racial discrimination; on occasions, the information regarding the rights recognized and protected by said laws are not divulged, nor the competences and services rendered in said instances (Jost 1007). Coupled with this, these institutions as a consequence of institutional racism persist in Latin America and the Caribbean, quickly entering a process of bureaucratization which limits their real possibilities of action and social transformation.
In light of this problem, Pineda recommends the States of the region as mechanisms to prevent and eradicate racial discrimination, the design of public policies and awareness programs, the construction of indicators with an ethnic and gender perspective, as well as monitoring, systematization, and regulation of racist speeches and representations transmitted and reproduced in the media.
Alridge, Derrick P., and Maurice Daniels. Black violence and crime in the 21st century: A
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Ericson, Edward. What happened to Freddie Gray? Former cops and arrestees shed light
on the question tearing Baltimore apart. City Paper, 39(17), 2015 15-20.
Goff, Phillip A., and Kimberly B. Kahn. Racial bias in policing: Why we know less than
we should. Social Issues and Policy Review, 6(1), 2012, 177-210.
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