Reading John Lewis’s essay brought along a new and revitalized view of the United States. As an Asian who is migrating to the United States for almost 12 years, it was easy to perceive the United States as an opportunity called “the American Dream.” In the essay, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem America’s soul by getting in what is regarded as a call to good trouble, necessary trouble.” It tells people to involve themselves in trouble, good trouble, and necessary trouble, besides getting the trouble fixed before it hits exacerbated levels. June 14th, 2020 stands out as one of the most memorable days in life. a short message service from a close friend on this day served as an invitation to a public protest in Mira Mesa. Taking into account the Corona virus pandemic, a mask was one of the necessities that one could pick up before meeting friends in readiness for the planned protest. During the protest, there were true and first-hand stories documenting the incidents that individuals had faced and the harsh treatment that they had received because if their African American descent. . It was one of the most disheartening moments, synonymous with the television program identified as “When they see us.”
The most challenging issue facing America today, arguably, is racial bias and discrimination because it threatens to tear the foundations of the country as outlined in the American Dream. According to Boutwell and colleagues (128), racial discrimination is a ghost that has haunted America for a long time. Despite the many legislations and activities geared towards eliminating racial bias, it never seems to dissipate. Blacks are arguably the greatest victims of racial prejudice since the days of slavery in America
The resurgence of the black lives movement portrayed the dirt and moral decay in America- a nation that was founded on the grounds of equality and respect for human rights. Nevertheless, it continues to deny its citizens fundamental human rights based on racial prejudices. Recent events such as the police murder of George Floyd depicted a deeper systemic bias and rot that is engraved in America’s criminal justice system. The event instigated non-violent protests against police brutality in America but later, it also addressed the structural racism embodied in America’s social institutions.
The killing of George Floyd is not something new to the American police-other brutalities have also happened. Before the American Civil war, the police conducted brutal slave patrols on African Americans (Richie 16). For example, an unarmed black Rodney King was beaten up by the police in 1991. The four police officers who did the act were acquitted, leading to mass protests in Los Angeles (Richie 17). In 2014, an unarmed black teenager, Mike Brown, was shot and killed by a white police officer (Richie 16), and the list continues, indicating the systemic inequalities rooted in the law enforcement agencies within the country.
African Americans are two and a half times more likely to be murdered by the police than whites. The criminal justice system is also flawed because it is seemingly designed to work against the welfare and interests of the people of color. African Americans are more likely to get arrested than whites and be given harsher sentences in jail for the same crimes committed. Additionally, blacks are six times more likely to be jailed for drug use than whites, despite both racial groups using drugs at the same rate. Blacks have also been disadvantaged through institutions like education. The segregation between white and black children came to an end through the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling but there are salient inequalities when it comes to school enrollment and the attainment of college degrees. Sixty years after the landmark rulling which ended segregation in schools, discrimination and inequality have managed to find its way in education. Black children face more obstacles than their white counterparts in academic settings because institutions are set up in such a manner as to disadvantage people of color. Due to the existing disparities in racial wealth ownership, black children are forced to take more debts to fund their education.
54% of black families and households have students’ debts compared to 39% in white homes, pointing out to the problem of funding which the government is blind to. African American children are also four times more likely to be punished or suspended from schools compared to white children over the same behavioral mistakes. Black children, especially boys, are perceived to be trouble makers and highly aggressive individuals, although this is a form of racial bias because in teenage years, individuals are driven by the urge to develop a sense of identity, a reason why they will stir trouble irrespective of their racial identity.
Systemic racism is also witnessed in businesses and the job market because Job seekers with white-like names are more likely to receive callbacks than seekers with black-like names (Ezorsky 111). Additionally, whites are more likely to get a job that is consistent with their level of education than blacks. African Americas are also underrepresented in the work-force despite their gains in college degree education. By the year 2018, 31 % of black Americans had a college degree, yet only 3.3% of senior roles in employment are filled by blacks (Ezorsky 113). It is a trend depicting systemic discrimination in the workplace despite the blacks making gains in educational competence. Blacks are also twice likely to be unemployed than the whites, and when they get fortunate enough to be employed, they receive 25% less than their white counterparts (Ezorsky 113). These are just examples of subordination of a particular race, with aims to impoverish it.
The constitution, through the 14th amendment, provides for equal protection of all citizens. It is the reference point for fairness and equality in America. Therefore, racial bias has no place according to the constitution. Additionally, the core values of America include fairness and unity. The country shall never achieve unity if it keeps on discriminating based on color. Martin Luther summarized his dreams of an American nation when he said: “…I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin… but by the content of their character”. How can we be united if we refer to one man an African American, the other a Latino…and the other a white American? We are all Americans, and we should uphold the values of our nation deep in our hearts. Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation resides in the hearts and the souls of its people.” In this regard, we should uphold the values instrumental to the building of our racially diverse nation with inclusivity and oneness.
One of the most significant avenues for ending black subordination and racism in America is the federal government. Some governments have been crucial in promoting racial equality. Abraham Lincoln’s administration eradicated poverty in America through the emancipation proclamation in 1863. Other administrations have, however, not done enough have promoted racial equity, like Trump’s administration. The people should, through their power to vote, place governments committed to eradicating institutional racism in America. They should also hold discussions to eliminate racial stereotypes. For example, during the 19th century, whites assumed that the blacks had low intelligence and had tendencies of violence and sexual aggression (Ezorsky 133). Holding talks will eliminate such negative and racially-profiled stereotypes. Finally, institutions like the police, the criminal justice system should undergo reforms to dispatch justice equally without racial profiling.
From these few pages of reviewing our troubles in our nation and reading John Lewis’s essay, one must ask himself or herself what could be done to answer the highest calling of the heart and to stand up for what they genuinely believe. First, it is imperative to invite friends and business partners and discuss the country’s problems.. Second, exercising the democratic voting right is essential in ensuring that the right people hold positions of power to bring justice and equality in the country. Standing up for one’s own belief is a valid step that will contribute to American democracy. Martin Luther had proved that he stood up and defended his own beliefs. His strong belief in nonviolent protest helped set the tone of the movement. Boycotts, protests, and marches were eventually effective, and much legislation was passed against racial discrimination. John Lewis mentioned let the politician say that it was our generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression, and war. I have a strong belief, and we will make it happen. In this generation, we will learn more about our own constitution, our senator, and vote for the right person who is going to be able to help us to fix this ethical troubles.
The process of attaining a racial-biased free America faces critical challenges in implementation. The most significant contributor is the already existing disparities in wealth (Kuhn et al. 69). Poverty among blacks continually ushers in other forms of discrimination. Lack of enough enrollment of black students into institutions of higher learning contributes to the disparities in education compared to the white students. Further, black workers get less pay than white workers and fewer employment benefits (Kuhn et al. 70). It is due to such factors that disparities in income come along. The disparities in income should be addressed by providing equal pay and benefits to all workers regardless of race. Another significant barrier is the criminal justice system. Blacks live in fear of approaching individual institutions for fear of being stigmatized due to past experiences of racism. According to Health Services Research, African Americans mistrust the mental health department due to previous racist experiences. They, therefore, hold themselves back from accessing mental care.
More actions should be taken, individually, and by the government to bring an end to racism and enhance equality for all. We live in a multicultural society, and we strive to embrace differences of thought and tradition. We celebrate the diversity of heritage and past experiences. “A nation resides in the hearts and the souls of its people – Mahatma Gandi.” We should live the new American dream, an America with no racial subordination.
Boutwell, Brian B., et al. “The prevalence of discrimination across racial groups in contemporary America: Results from a nationally representative sample of adults.” PloS one 12.8 (2017): e0183356.
Ezorsky, Gertrude. Racism and justice: The case for affirmative action. Cornell University Press, 2018
Ritchie, Andrea J. Invisible no more: Police violence against Black women and women of color. Beacon press, 2017
Kuhn, Moritz, Moritz Schularick, and Ulrike I. Steins. “Income and wealth inequality in america.” Journal of Political Economy (2017).