What is systemic racism in America?
2020 in the history of interracial relations in the United States
In December 2020, a monument to Confederate General Robert Lee was dismantled in the National Sculpture Hall of the Capitol. The statue was sent to the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. And where she stood, they plan to erect a monument to Barbara Rose Jones, an African American who in 1951 (at the age of 16) led a student strike for equal access to education for whites and blacks. Recall that it was in connection with the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit that the Supreme Court ruled the so-called “separate but equal” public schools unconstitutional..
Lizha Brooks, one of the leaders of the humanitarian organization South Center for the Legal Protection of the Poor (SPLC), considers the dismantling of the monument to the Confederate General as a landmark event. “This suggests that the US House of Representatives intends to further get rid of these symbols of oppression and oppression located in public places,” explains Brooks. “After the assassination of George Floyd, the country again drew attention to the fact that these monuments to the Confederates are symbols (ideas) of white supremacy and racism towards blacks.”.
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According to the South Center for the Legal Defense of the Poor, after Floyd’s death (May 25, 2020), 60 Confederate monuments were demolished or dismantled, 10 were moved, one state flag (Mississippi) was replaced, and 14 educational institutions were renamed. At least 34 more schools have announced plans to rename buildings named after Confederate leaders in the near future, Brooks said. The NASCAR Racing Association has banned the display of the “flag of contention” at its events. Virginia has passed a law according to which it will be up to the locals to decide which symbols can be used in public places..
Experts call the first months of 2020 the “starting point” of the so-called “white awakening”, i.e. began discussions about systemic racism in the country.
In February, an unarmed 25-year-old African American, Ahmad Arbury, was shot dead while jogging in Georgia. The accused are three white men. In March, an African-American woman, Breonna Taylor, was shot and killed by police in Louisville, breaking into her apartment. The incidents shocked Americans, but massive protests began after the country saw footage of African American George Floyd being detained by police in Minneapolis in late May..
The incident highlighted the racism that exists in the US criminal justice system, according to Brian McCanne, an African American professor at Louisiana State University..
“The white policeman literally crushed the black man’s neck with his knee. The video clearly shows that the black man was thrown to the ground – he did not threaten anyone. This video, which shows the indifferent face of a white police officer holding a still lying dark-skinned man, disgusted people who previously could have doubted something (similar) – the police used it to some extent, ”says McKen.
Protests (sometimes escalating into riots) against racism in the country continued for several months. In the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matters movement took center stage throughout the country. White Americans reacted differently: some protested in solidarity, others staged counter-protests..
All this happened against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and incoming data that blacks are dying from COVID-19 much more often than white Americans. This circumstance highlighted another facet of the problem of systemic racism – in the country’s health care system..
Lori Latrice Martin, a professor at Louisiana State University, stresses that the predominance of blacks among those who have died from complications caused by COVID-19 only underscores the problems about which interracial professionals have long sounded the alarm..
“Blacks always suffer more than whites in times of crisis. All due to the fact that the existing order is established in favor of the dominant race. Minorities are always more vulnerable. And before the coronavirus pandemic, there were differences in socioeconomic status and access to high-quality medicine and insurance for blacks and whites. Blacks are more likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, which also contributed to their inclusion in the risk group. And this is not the result of some genetic characteristics, but of the social conditions in which they live, ”emphasizes Martin.
In the outgoing year, giant companies in their own way supported the movement against racism. In June, many large companies declared Abolition Day a day off. Adidas has pledged $ 20 million to develop areas with a predominantly African American population. Target – to increase the number of black employees. Many companies have set themselves the goal of achieving racial diversity in their workforce in the coming years. And dozens of top brands have announced their intention to change their names and logos to avoid racial stereotypes. So, now on the box of instant rice “Uncle Ben” there will be no African American, and the word “uncle” has disappeared from the name (the new name is Ben’s Original). The Redskins (Redskins) Washington Football Team now calls itself “Washington”.
“All this is enough (for a successful fight against racism – An. Av.). If you look at the board of directors of corporations that decided to declare Abolition Day a day off this year, the vast majority are white. Until all these companies change their personnel policy, everything will remain in place, ”says Naila Amaru, civil rights consultant..
The expert calls the victory of the Biden-Harris political tandem in the 2020 presidential election an important event of the year for African Americans. In the near future, the second most important position in the country will be occupied by an African American. Harris will become the first woman, the first black politician, and at the same time the first Asian politician to serve as vice president. According to Amaru, African American voices played an important role in the victory of Biden and Harris. In turn, she continues, the president-elect and vice-president-elect promise the country the “most diverse” administration in terms of ethnicity..
“Now it is important that this does not end with a symbolic victory. Will we see new political initiatives to tackle the problems of racism? What does the government intend to do about … the painful problems of black Americans that we have been talking about all year? ” – says Naila Amaru.
Since 2012 – producer and correspondent for the Russian Voice of America Service in Washington. Graduate of the Faculty of Journalism of the North Caucasus Federal University, focusing on social issues, women’s rights, politics and culture
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