A couple days ago, I was at the LA Metro station refilling my TAP card when I noticed a Caucasian lady standing with her friend waiting to use the machine. I told the lady I was done with the machine and she could use it if she wanted to. She looked at me up and down, noticing my long dark hair and tan skin. I know she was prejudging me because I am Latina, then made a scoffing noise and shooed me away.
Her attitude made me feel as though she thought I was inferior to her. Of course, this was a very minor incident, but it really caught me off guard. I never really took notice before of how people could make assumptions about me or anyone else, before even getting to know the person. It really made me face reality and reflect on prejudice and I came to a conclusion: Racism is alive and thriving in America.
Let’s start at the origin of our wonderful nation. Our founding fathers came up with the Constitution in order to run this country and make everyone equal and free and give everyone the opportunity to make choices in their government. The only requirement to have a voice in this country was to be a Caucasian male who owned property, which included slaves.
Black men, women and children were brought from Africa to build up this nation from the ground up through slavery and were looked at as sub-human– no more than just property.
Things didn’t get significantly better for these individuals until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Individuals like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks were huge advocates who fought for the rights of everyone in the nation and risked their lives in the process.
Although this act significantly helped people of all types in America, it didn’t have the power to change racist attitudes all over the nation.
In Chicago, the police academy is extremely corrupted with racism. African Americans make up one-third of Chicago’s population. Police officers say that black people, especially men, are “threatening to them” and that “Chicago would be better without them,” according to Carole Simpson, an American broadcast journalist, news anchor and author.
Statistics show that in Chicago, almost 80% of men stopped by police officers are young and black, according to Cory Doctorow, an online reporter from boingboing.net. Also, 75% of police violence victims are African Americans. A black person is killed every 28 hours by police officers. As of now 501 black men has been killed because of police violence, and that number is bound to go up if the attitudes in police academies don’t change, said Ms. Simpson.
The publicity of the Zimmerman trial, in which 17 year-old Treyvon Martin was shot and killed after an altercation, birthed the Black Lives Movement, which was founded by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors. The movement is “an ideological and political intervention in a world where black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise,” according to the Black Lives Matter movement website. It shows how much black people of every type (gay, straight, trans, females, males, etc.) are big contributors to society and deserve better treatment.
Although this movement shined light on how people are prejudiced in America, it won’t stop hate crimes all together.
A 28-year-old black woman named Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell in Waller County, Texas on July 13, 2015. Her death was classified as a “suicide” by the county coroner.
Brian Encinia, a state trooper, pulled over Bland for a minor traffic violation on July 10. As the conflict escalated, Encinia pulled Bland out of the car and threatened to “light her up” or use his stun gun on her.
The death of Bland drew more attention to the corrupt police forces all over the nation and gained more support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Of course, the Black Lives Matter movement scared a lot of people so a group of white people started a new movement called the All Lives Matter Movement.
The All Lives Matter Movement sounds great and is supposed to show that all lives are equal and that everyone goes through the same struggles, but in reality that is not true.
All Lives Matter implies that everyone (black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc.) is at risk, and that is untrue. For example, a straight white man doesn’t experience prejudice as let’s say, a Hispanic woman like myself or a young black man does.
The badge of color that we are given at birth can’t be avoided and with it, unfortunately, come certain stereotypes and we have to live with them.
Movements like the Black Lives Matter Movement are helping to raise awareness on racism in our country and we can only expand this view if we talk about it. The movement might spread and show Hispanic contributions to society, as well as Asian accomplishments too. This will hopefully educate people and show that humans are humans and that we all deserve respect and acceptance in today’s society.