The notorious white supremacist hate group, the Ku Klux Klan was founded back in 1865 operating through pure terrorism, has had the opportunity to dissolve and resurrect three times with thousands of active members still today. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the same director that took down the Black Panther Party, had to be told by President Lyndon Johnson to go after the Klan. The same president also launched a “War on Poverty” just 50 years ago in 1970, opening up opportunities for African Americans in schooling, housing, and the labour force. This led to affirmative action programs being developed and implemented to remedy the long term effects of such systematic discriminative prejudices.
Yet, and still after decades of work being put in by all who wanted to see a change, a new America, it is clear we haven’t moved as far forward as we’d and others would like to assume. In 1992, which is probably one of the first highly publicized police brutality cases caught on tape, was the gruesome beating of African American motorist Rodney King by four Los Angeles police officers, three of which were white men. Charges were brought forth upon the officers. However, despite the ocular proof, each man received an acquittal verdict that shocked the entire nation causing one of the worst riots America has ever seen. Fast Forward to 2012 where a 17 year old young man, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman who unsurprisingly was a white man. His murderer was also acquitted. Again, this verdict broke many hearts around the world. It left us feeling hopeless but, what was different about this time, was it had awakened Black America to the fact that we must now fear for our children. Now, in 2021 we are currently fighting to keep our current voting rights and widened access to keep them from being suppressed by new laws that seek to restrict access by imposing stricter rules and requirements and decreasing the number of polling sites.
Statistically, black men aged 15-34 are between 9-16 times more likely to be killed by police than other people while African Americans make up only 13% of the population. Shockingly, according to CBSNEWS.com police in the United States have killed 164 black people in the first eight months of 2020! Most recently, minorities have just marched in response to the fatal shooting of 19 year old Marcellis Stinnette and his shot and wounded girlfriend Tafara Williams for allegedly backing their vehicle up toward a police officer who like most of the others claimed to have feared for his life.
The year of 2020 and the current year of 2021 has had an eye opening effect on all minorities since the decade began. The fact that a two star general in command of the Marine Forces in Europe and Africa has had to be relieved of his duties for the use of racial slurs during training is a reminder, the fact that in 2020 the Marine Corps have finally decided to exclude the confederate battle flag from their public displays is a reminder. The fact that in Raleigh, North Carolina a farm workers’ union is fighting for the suspension of the H-2A Labor Contractor program. Through this program, “They can recruit workers from Mexico, oftentimes charging them thousands of dollars to get a job. Then, using their control over their visas and passports to make sure they don’t complain about rights on the job and human rights violations.” In March of this year, a contractor was fined $463,000 for workplace abuses such as wage theft and putting workers’ health at risk. This sounds remarkably similar to indentured servitude which was popular in America back in the 1600s and was deemed an illegal practice shortly after the Civil War.
Furthermore, there has been a bill proposed known as The Fair Access to Financial Services Act. This act is an effort meant to close a loophole in the Civil Rights Act. Currently it is legal for banks and other businesses to treat some customers differently. Meaning, banks can racially profile their customers which includes asking them to take extra steps to prove their legitimacy or delay their transactions. Here we are in our current times faced with legal maneuvers and economic pressure yet again. We are still living among people who look for loopholes to exploit them to continue systematically terrorizing American minorities. What will it take to loosen the clutches that racist whites have gripping the reins of America? What will it take to end the underground war America has waged against its minority population for the past 245 years? One thing is clear, the resilience of the out-powered and out numbered is continuously being tested. We are determined to keep pressing forward and refuse to take steps backward.
Written by: Sharia Legette