A Racism Embedded in All of Society

Manon Schick calls out discrimination against African Americans.

The extent of the “Black Lives Matter” protests around the world, in response to the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, is striking. The suffocation death of this Black man beneath a police officer’s knee has incited worldwide indignation. And with good reason, since it is emblematic of the discrimination against African Americans that is very much embedded in American society.

Each year, more than 2,000 people are killed by the police in the United States: twice as many Blacks as whites, even though people of color only make up 15% of the American population. We also find this overrepresentation in prisons and on death row.

No one should have to fear for their life because of their skin color. Nevertheless, if you are born Black in the United States, you are much more likely to die from being shot by the police, or condemned to death for a crime that would have gotten a white person a prison sentence. Discrimination begins at birth. Black women are four times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. This disparity has remained the same for several decades.

The coronavirus crisis has also made these racial discriminations evident. African Americans and Latinos are overrepresented among those who die from COVID-19. Poverty, obesity, precarious employment, no access to care due to lack of health insurance and the impossibility of quarantining: All the ingredients come together to hit racial and ethnic minorities harder.

Laws To Amend

Only active anti-discrimination measures and changes to laws will allow the United States to make progress. A law attempting to end racial profiling was proposed in 2001 and reintroduced in Congress last year. Blacks are in fact regularly the targets of interrogations and humiliating, unwarranted searches, in the streets or in malls, and even of physical abuse when taken to the police station.

Congress must also pass a law to limit police use of deadly force. In some states, officers use lethal weapons and can shoot without warning. The laws are too vague and do not restrict the use of firearms to cases of legitimate self-defense or in order to save the life of a third party.

One could hope that Floyd’s death serves as a catalyst for deep reforms that fight racism in the United States. But an election and a president who adds fuel to the fire with his abusive and discriminatory discourse run the risk of extinguishing this hope.

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