By Rayan Farhan Sher
On May 25, 2020, we lost George Floyd. It was a very tragic and painful death, as his windpipe was crushed by an officer pushing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for 8 Minutes and 46 Seconds! While George cried out for his mom and repeatedly said “I can’t breath”. George’s apparent crime? He was Black.
This sparked a flame in people, a flame fueled by the sadness and anger because of racism in our society. What I want to address in this article is how mainstream racism is.
Let’s do a quick overview of racism in America. So let’s start with the end of the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863. Which ended slavery in all of America, The End! Just kidding! For the next 2 years in Texas, slavery resumed. Then on June 19, 1865, Union troops (the people who didn’t like slavery) marched into Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of slavery. It seemed like this was the end of racism, but NO! Racist treated Black people horribly; they were not allowed to go to the same schools, toilets, and restaurants that white people went to. That’s just scratching the surface of where and what they were allowed to do! Racists also found loopholes in the laws allowing Black people to vote. exploiting the things that Black people did not have due to being slaves previously, such as literacy tests and taxes. Now you may be wondering, “wait…where is the government in all of this”? Well, the problem is the government was run by racists and these things were made legal through what is called Jim Crow laws. Eventually, the Civil Rights movement started (led by Martin Luther King Jr. and others), and all loopholes were removed and Black people got their rights. So that’s the overview of racism in America.
Still, after all Black Americans have been through, they are still treated as second class citizens, and in the next 2 paragraphs, I will give you a glimpse into the world of hate and racism that has embedded itself into American society. So let’s start off with the racism in policing. As shocking as it sounds, America has a very huge policing problem, and racism contributes to a huge chunk of policing problems. For example, let’s take a look at a type of training method called “Warrior training”. It’s basically a fear-based training where officers are told to treat every person as a threat and teach them very aggressive tactics for taking down a threat. So, with this in mind, it can strengthen the racist mindset of Black Americans being threats, and give police training and excuses to kill them. I would also like to draw your attention to the problem of Stop and Frisk. It is a method used by police in which they stop an individual, and frisk, or push them against the wall. But when racist police officers use stop and frisk it creates a paradox, you may be saying “huh?”, so let me explain. A famous political comedian named Trevor Noah talked about this. So, imagine you are a Black child, and you are frisked every day. So eventually, you run away from the police, and then you get arrested for resisting arrest. You cannot afford to pay bail, so you are sent to prison, where they will become criminalized from being influenced by criminals. That is one-way racism is embedded into our police system.
While racism is embedded into the policing system, it is also embedded in society, which honestly influences the racism in policing. One example of this is, in 2018, two black men were arrested for allegedly trespassing at a Starbucks in Pennsylvania. They were only waiting for a colleague to arrive, so they could have a meeting. This shows how people see Black people as threats, and instead of asking the men to leave, they immediately called the police. This highlights that people see Black people as inherently threatening. This is because, in movies and other forms of entertainment, more threatening roles are played by Black actors, which causes people to be afraid of Black people and also Blacks are portrayed in more negative light. Heroes are always white!. One example of this is in the TV show, The Flash (a superhero with super speed). In the episode, I am highlighting, they are trying to bust a crime lord who runs a black-market (even this work makes black negative, like say black-list!), that sells illegal stuff. The villian (who had the ability to turn his body gold) was a Black person. This is just one example of Black people are mostly mis-portrayed in entertainment.
As this article draws to an end, you may be wondering “wait… how come there have been no movements to end this”? But indeed there have been, many in fact, for all the deaths that have recorded, due to this racism. But, these protests have died out, the spark lost. It may be because not a lot of people participated, or perhaps they were drowned out in the evil of the world. But with George Floyd’s death, the pain and sadness have reached their breaking point, everybody is sick of the injustice, and there may be hope for justice after all. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools”. I am sure Mr. King would agree to our adding brothers and sisters, and these words have never been truer.
The author is a newly minted 13-year-old social activist who wants to bring a change with the power of his words. He lives in Houston, Texas and aims to work towards ending Islamophobia and all kinds of inequality.