NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE PROBLEM OF RACISM IN AMERICA
In 1968, a British Politician Enoch Powell said “the greatest disservice one can do to his nation is to see and not speak.” This statement, though uttered many years ago, is still relevant because of the current happenings in America. The issue of racism has been an age-old canker in the annals of American history. This can be traced to the very moment the first set of slaves arrived on American soil from Africa. The white slave masters subjected these slaves to dehumanizing conditions with the view that they were inferior to them.
This notion of inferiority emanated from the fact that these were blacks and they were white. However, what at all is racism? This term, strictly defined refers to the unequal power relations that emerge because of the socio-political domination of one race by another race which result in systematic discriminatory practices. Racism in America has never been defeated even after civil rights activists like Martin Luther king JR. launched relentless crusades to point out to the whole world the scathing effects of racism.
These campaigns seemed to have paid off and it appeared racism had been eradicated from the American society. However, this was a comforting self-delusion for racism is still present and exhibited in many forms. Two main reasons for which racism cannot be uprooted in America are the concepts of institutionalized racism and internalized racism.
Institutionalized racism refers to the incorporation of racist policies and practices into the institutions by which society is governed. This might occur at various levels including education, the law and even health care. Internalized racism refers to our programing through language to view the white race as superior to the black race. Blacks in America have persistently witnessed unspeakable horrors of police brutalities as a result of their color. It is a known fact that blacks form the majority in American prisons simply due to the racist nature of American laws.
Since the start of the civil rights campaigns championed by Martin Luther King JR. America has done little to guarantee the rights of African Americans. Even the signing of the emancipation proclamation could not entirely guarantee the rights of these minority groups. For many, racism has become part of their lives. This is because they experience racism in their daily endeavors. Why should racism persist when some measures have been put in place to deal with the canker? Why should blacks still be the victims of police brutalities? Surely, the American society has failed to see to the realization of these measures. All well-meaning Americans must denounce the systemic forms of racism that persist in America. Sadly, some leaders of the country have either consciously or unconsciously encouraged these reprehensible acts. It is sad that many Americans think that Americans solely built the nation in which they live today. The ascent of America to its status would not have been possible without cheap labor from slaves from Africa.
What these crusaders of American dominance should remember is that power is nothing when your people live in fear and panic. Power is nothing when you cannot guarantee justice for a section of your population. The social injustices in America today can be equated to that which propelled the prophet Amos to call on the leaders of Israel to let justice role down like water and righteousness a mighty stream. If America is to become great again, the country must root out such practices. Calling your own citizens domestic terrorist and threatening to unleash brute force on them is unfortunate.
Successive leaders of that nation should bow their heads in shame for doing little or nothing to alleviate the plight of people of color in that country. The current gruesome murders of African Americans are indication of how long the country still has to go to attain the country envisaged by Martin Luther king JR. when he delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. It is however encouraging that President Trump’s administration is taking steps to change the narrative. May the spirits of the victims of police brutalities rise to Heaven and remain the stars of our firmament, those we see in the night and which will still be shining for generations to come. May the blood of these martyrs become the seed from which justice will sprout and be the catalyst for an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. For now, the whirlwinds of revolution will continue to shake America until the bright day of justice emerges. God is watching us all from a distance.
BY ELIAS KODELOGO, A STUDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST.