Race relations and 2015

It’s that time of the year again. Christmas gifts have been unwrapped and enjoyed, the aura of thanksgiving has been celebrated, Chanukah and it’s 8 days of joy have come and gone, Kwanza is underway and tomorrow is New Years Eve. We are only 48 hours away from a new year. 2015 much like Rosh Hashanah represent the possibilities, opportunities, fears and expectations all of us will face in a new year. But one subject in particular that we face daily, white or black, is the subject of racism.

To make a long story short, racism has always been woven (unfortunately) into the fabric of American society. Whether it was the unfair robbery unleashed on the Natives by European Immigrants, the kidnapping of Africans in chains and being brought to America as slaves, or the internment of Japanese Americans, or our fear of Muslims, America has never been able to truly escape nor shed the issue of race.

2014 marked a year for race relations in this country. Eric Garner, Michael Brown and countless other unarmed black men who fell victim to police brutality and institutional racism within the criminal justice system.

Many individuals white and black believe there is no “White Privilege”. Because we have a Black President, that somehow means racism is no longer an issue in the states. But how wrong they are.

To say that the election of an African American President signals the end of White Male dominated oppression onto minorities in this country is to deny the daily, undeniable and constant struggle many of us face in minority communities.

The Black community is a prime example. Many opponents of the “White Privilege” argument will say that many of the issues we face are self-inflicted and we should stop “crying about slavery”.

I actually agree. To an extent.

I’ve always been a firm believer of personal responsibility. The Black community has to take responsibility for the role we have in perpetuating stereotypes. Movies, music, and other areas of entertainment we are often showcased as animals, buffoons, uneducated creatures that are simply not good enough for society.

I am angry that our talented musicians continue to profit off of the constant denigrating of our women. Women are the mother of all society and to refer to any woman in a demeaning manner is one of the most disgusting things an individual can do.

As someone who is a product of the ghetto, I have seen parents with link cards buy their children expensive clothes, shoes, video game systems and etc. A lack of fiscal responsibility and being unaware of the consequences that come with that are deadly.

But why do these things occur? Why is the Black community in daily limbo. Why do we make up 12% of the population, but account for most of the country’s crimes?

Two answers. Our own involvement which I explained above and the hand racism plays which I”ll explain below.

The Black world since our arrival to this land, has always been setup to fail. What did the “War on Drugs” accomplish? Abominable life sentences for drug addicts who were shipped off to jail instead of rehab. A sever equal lack of funding for our schools and resistance to investing into our communities in order for us to gain economic capital and ownership.

The corporate world, including some of our elected officials have been responsible for the mess that has been created and allowed to grow.

We have not been given an equal hand up the American ladder. If you honestly believe we have, then, you don’t know the whole story.

If we have been given equal opportunity in this country why are we still discussing voting rights in 2014? These new laws passed in Republican majority states have done nothing but undercut and devalue black and brown voters.

If we have been given equal opportunity why are we still discussing racism in the criminal justice system? The deaths of unarmed Black men by the men and women who swore to “Serve and Protect” is an issue that goes back years.

There are those who believe what I am writing is complete nonsense and drivel. Some of those people maybe TOI readers and bloggers. Which isn’t all surprising, albeit disappointing.

It’s easy to point out were just a group of angry minorities whining and crying about the “System”. Of course it is, that’s because you’re benefiting from the system. Our struggles and pain have resulted into the pride and joys of America. The White House at one point in time, were built by slaves. The halls of power were built by men and women who were denied the human right of survival.

Many people who dismiss our legitimate and historical grievances are those who are comfortable living in a bubble. They are individuals and groups who are fine with how things are and any attempt to change that will surely cause a disruption of the status quo. The same status quo in which immigrants in this country benefit to our economy while they rarely ever, feel the benefits themselves.

The same status quo in which a small group of people are able to financially sway our political agendas compared to the rest of us, who simply don’t have enough money to lobby for our freedoms.

You are in denial if you don’t believe this country was setup to favor one group and not favor other groups.

Of course the Black community in some parts of America are violent. Poverty begats violence. When you strip away the ability for a people to gain financial capital, to access equal and effective education what do you think will happen? They will crumble and unfortunately, harm one another. It’s the cannibal effect. Just look at Chicago’s murder rates on the south and west sides.

It’s always easy to point fingers and say “look at those animals”. It’s harder to explain why people are in the position they are in. Because doing so would require self examination of our true emotions and prejudices and how people benefit off of the agony of others. And while always necessary to have these debates and self reflections of ourselves, I don’t think society does it enough to enact true change.

Maybe its the subconscious white guilt that prevents most Caucasian individuals from seriously self examining the world around them. And by that they just don’t approach the topic at all and prefer to go with the status quo.

As we enter the new year, I hope all of us individually will look at ourselves and seriously question our motives, hopes, dreams, and fears.

I hope to seriously question and ponder what role do I myself have in perpetuating stereotypes and I hope white individuals question their own motives and feelings. It all starts with one.

Happy New Year.

About the Author
Dennis Austin is a student who is from Chicago.