Over the last week, we have seen the pain and frustration Americans have been facing for far too long. Since the 1960s, little has been done to weed out the systematic racism that was sewn into our society.
Peaceful protests turned violent all over the country as tensions were high between citizens and law enforcement, which resulted in “less lethal” and chemical weapons being used against American citizens who were peacefully expressing their First Amendment rights. These unfortunate events led to looting by opportunistic criminals. As most citizens were in attendance to show their support against police brutality and racism, some used this opportunity to steal from and vandalize American businesses. While I believe that citizens exercising their constitutional rights should be protected, looters should be prosecuted for their illegal actions.
If we want to restore law and order in our country, we must first understand the frustrations so many Americans are facing. The systemic racism has been most apparent in the ways of police brutality and violence, but this is only a symptom of the root problem. George Floyd was being arrested for suspicion of a non-violent crime, Breonna Taylor was in her home asleep in bed, Tamir Rice was a young kid playing in a park, and Eric Garner was selling cigarettes on a street corner. These Americans were all unnecessarily killed by law enforcement officer that failed to do their job properly, stemming from a lack of de-escalation and the minimum use of force necessary. This does not even account for the racist crimes committed by citizens such as the murder of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery.
As a white man I will never be able to fully understand or comprehend what it is like to grow up and live in a marginalized society. My mom never had to worry about whether I would or would not come home at night, which is a reality many minority families face. Black Americans suffer from many forms of oppression, from underfunded schools to a lack of equal employment opportunities.
Brown v Board of Education happened nearly 65 years ago, yet today we still see high rates of school segregation. On top of segregated schools, many schools that are predominately black American have substantially less funding. This is an issue that could be easily solved if it were to get the proper attention from our legislators.
Another symptom of the systematic racism in America is when we look at equal employment opportunities for black Americans. Partly due to the unconscious bias during the hiring process, black Americans lack the same employment opportunities. The unemployment rate in black Americans is double that of white Americans in our country at the national level. The sad truth is that a black American is less likely to be hired than a white American when both are applying for the same job.
Of course, there are many other underlying issues that need to be addressed, but once we begin to move forward towards solving the systematic racism in our society, we will see improvements in the quality of life for Americans. Threatening an “overwhelming show of force” or suggesting unleashing the military against American citizens with “no quarter” orders is not the answer. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Violence begets violence.” Even when President Eisenhower sent the National Guard into Little Rock to enforce desegregation, Governor Orval Faubus found a workaround by cancelling schools for a year. This, in turn, did even more damage to our children rather than helping to solve the problem at hand.
Violence is not the answer. The answer is to empathize and understand why so many marginalized Americans are hurting, and then to enact legislation that can begin to heal these most deep wounds that have been festering for hundreds of years within our society.
Dan Whitfield is an independent candidate for United States Senate, running in opposition to Sen. Tom Cotton. Follow him on Twitter at @DanWhitCongress.
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