The Drop That Tipped The Bucket: Why Justice For George Floyd Should Not Tame Protesters
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Engraved in the Declaration of Independence is a solemn pledge that inspirits the very essence of the ‘American dream’. That all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion, are entitled to certain civil rights; the most basic of which being ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’
Since the outset of our youth, we feasted on the belief that the bald eagle and statue of liberty oversaw a land ‘of the free.’ A land where no dream is beyond reach, where all citizens are treated equal, and where one always harvests the fruits of their efforts.
However, this idyllic ‘American dream’ has proven to be nothing but that- a dream, an elaborate façade.
Post-slavery America, which promised coequality and social justice, is still very much fashioned for certain individuals with certain backgrounds.
But this is not just an American phenomenon. Many countries around the world are still plagued by racist and discriminatory habits. However, whilst most try to vanquish any traces of prejudice from their communities, it seems that America has backtracked- ripping even the most fundamental human right there is from those it already oppresses: the right to live.
The recent murder of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has ignited unprecedented outrage worldwide. His death was not a one-off occurrence; but another unfortunate event in what has now become a trend, unveiling racism’s unwavering grip on American society.
African Americans are still considered second-class citizens in a country their ancestors built from the ground up. Whilst white citizens indulged in their luxuries, black slaves worked restlessly in factories and fields, establishing the economy, industry, and infrastructure America prides itself on today.
At least 3 million Africans were shipped from their homes, chained to floorboards, whipped, lynched, and tortured both mentally and physically, all in order to develop what has now become the most powerful entity in the World.
Still, since their release from the chains of slavery in 1865, the African American community have yet to be compensated for the injustice they endure, and the overwhelming contribution to American society their ancestors made.
In fact, throughout history, African Americans have been given much less support and financial aid than most other minorities.
Whilst Native Americans received property and billions of dollars for being forcibly expelled from their homelands, and Jews secured significant and ongoing funding for the holocaust (approximately 142 billion dollars thus far), black Americans have become the only group to not be reimbursed for state-sanctioned racial discrimination.
Even after WW2, when both black and white Americans returned from the battlefield, black veterans could not redeem their post-war benefits like their white peers.
Unfortunately, as the lack of priority given to Black communities by the U.S. government persisted, many African American neighborhoods deteriorated, leading to today’s stereotypical association of black communities to violence, drugs, and gangs.
During debate, white supremacists often refer to the fact that 1/3 of black men are likely to spend time behind bars, or that their communities suffer the highest crime rates; and on that basis, they brand African Americans as a liability to their faultless ideal of American society.
What they fail to remember is that any population, regardless of race, would have met the same outcome if they were exposed to the debilitating conditions African Americans endured.
Nobody is born a liability in a society that provides equally to all its citizens. How can 40% of American adults be obese, whilst 38.1 million others struggle to place food on the table?
For the period that white citizens established themselves, secured their finances, educated their children, and prospered their businesses, African Americans were forced to slave away. Following the abolition of slavery, the U.S. government did not fill in the developmental gap between both races.
They did not pay for their education, sponsor their children, cover their debts, or construct their neighborhoods; unsurprisingly idling their progress, and driving many to resort to looting and violence to make ends meet.
Today, the average white family has approximately 10 times the wealth of an average Black family, whilst white high school dropouts have more money than Black college graduates.
Although this vicious cycle should have been eradicated as soon as it developed, considering America’s economic and infrastructural dominance, it is not too late to trigger change.
The U.S. government must recognize that, for America’s long-term prosperity, certain sacrifices must be made. For example, African American students should be relieved of their student loan debts, down payment grants should be invested in their communities, housing revitalization programs should be established to aid in refurbishing their existing neighborhoods, whilst business grants must be provided to help with their self-dependency and economic growth.
The protests ongoing today should not settle for bare justice; instead, the momentum created must be utilized to insist on widespread reform. Even if the police officers blamed for Floyd’s murder are arrested, the trend of unjustified violence and baseless oppression will resume unless that far-reaching gap between black and white is filled in.
In 1860, over $3 billion was the value assigned to the physical bodies of enslaved Black Americans. Today, that amount is a mere fraction of what America spends to ensure military dominance in the World.
Perhaps if the U.S. restricts their endless intervention and substantial funding of Worldwide conflicts and takes a moment to reconsider the treatment of those who lost everything and gained nothing to found the American empire, then they can truly unite the United States of America.