Racism is America’s Never-Ending Pandemic
By: Valeria Ramos
Racism is America’s never-ending pandemic. Every year for the last 300 years, the lives of unarmed Black men and women have been taken at the hands, knees, and bullets of American citizens and more frequently, American police officers who are infected with the deadly disease that is racism.
We know this disease is not a natural one—no child is born knowing how to hate. Racism is taught and passed down from generation to generation. Side effects of this disease include false prejudices, feelings of superiority, and in many cases, extreme aggression.
What makes racism all the more atrocious is that the real victims are not those with the disease. The victims are passersby with Black skin. They are men and women on their way to a store, selling cigarettes, or driving home with a broken taillight. They are children holding a toy gun and teenagers carrying Skittles.
In other cases, they are not even passersby, but targets. Ahmaud Arbery going on his daily jog in broad daylight, murdered for his suspicious-looking skin. Breonna Taylor sleeping in her bed, murdered by officers conducting a search warrant in the wrong home. All of these victims were unarmed.
Racism and corruption have long been intertwined in the American government. They are the reason our justice system constantly fails women and minorities in the courtroom. They are why white rapists like Brock Turner serve only three months in jail while cops like George Zimmerman get away with murder.
The most recent name added to the long list of unarmed killings by police is George Floyd. His name has been heard around the world after his murder in Minneapolis led to rioting and protests in cities across the U.S.
Floyd’s last words were a plea for his life. “Please, please. I can’t breathe,” he begged the officers who surrounded him on the suspicion that Floyd was using a fake $20 bill.
If these last words sound eerily familiar, it’s because they are. In 2014, Eric Garner, also Black and unarmed, was put into a chokehold by police officers and repeated, “I can’t breathe” eleven times before the officers killed him. No police officer was charged in that case.
Despite George Floyd’s cry for help, now ex-officer Derek Chuavin never lifted his knee off Floyd’s neck, leaving it there for more than 8 1/2 minutes, until Floyd’s death.
This incident, coming shortly after North Carolinians protested stay-at-home orders armed with weapons strapped to their bodies, was all the more outraging. If white men carrying AR-15s are not seen as threats by police, but unarmed Black men are, it is no surprise why people are proclaiming, “Black lives matter.”
The disgusting truth is that if George Floyd was white, he would still be breathing. The same goes for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the hundreds of hashtags that trend for months with no action towards justice.
While looting and riots often make these incidents more divisive, those who show more concern for stolen goods from Target and Louis Vuitton than for the loss of lives due to police brutality speak volumes to how Black lives are perceived in this country.
More often than not, protestors and looters are two different groups. One is concerned with justice while the other takes advantage of the injustice in the air.
My heart breaks for the Black children who grow up having to be reassured that their lives matter because what they see on the news tells them otherwise. Think about what that does to a person’s perception of themselves and their country, no less a child.
You don’t have to be Black to feel upset. Be angry, speak up, and do what you can until there is some form of justice in this country where minorities are too often overlooked and abuse of power has become the norm.
To the Black community, we at Madame Blue stand with you and will continue to uplift your voices long after they are heard.
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