Race Issues in the United States
The journey towards the removal of all systematic and official discrimination was a long one, but today, the success has been so much that there is an African American President in the White House and for two decades African Americans have had top posts in consecutive administrations.
This success story however is not completely perfect. Racism and racial prejudice and discrimination still exists throughout America in two soft-core and hardcore forms. The soft-core form is those that claim not to be racist and say they have black friends, but when black people are killed under controversial circumstances by white police officers, they defend the police action blaming the deceased. The hardcore racists are the neo-nazis such as the Arian Brotherhood, who are filled with hatred towards non-whites.
Over the last few years, there have been several killings of unarmed blacks by the police, some of the incidents have even been recorded by dashcams, but almost in all these incidents there have been no charges filed against the police officers. The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting and the resultant protests and civil unrest received considerable attention in the U.S. and abroad, and sparked a vigorous debate about law enforcement's relationship with African Americans, and police use of force doctrine in Missouri and nationwide. On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after a police officer put him in what has been described as a "chokehold" for about 15 to 19 seconds. The New York City Medical Examiner's Office attributed Garner's death to a combination of a chokehold, compression of his chest, and poor health. New York City Police Department (NYPD) policy prohibits the use of chokeholds, and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA), a NYPD police union, said that the officer did not use a chokehold. The incident was recorded by a pedestrian on mobile phone, and on the clip Garner clearly says "I can't breathe" a number of times before dying.
The shooting of Walter Scott occurred on April 4, 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina, following a daytime traffic stop for a non-functioning brake light. Scott, a black man, was fatally shot by Michael Slager, a white North Charleston police officer. Slager was charged with murder after a video surfaced contradicting his initial police report. The video showed him shooting the unarmed Scott from behind while Scott was fleeing.
The case was independently investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Attorney in South Carolina, and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are conducting their own investigations. On June 8, a grand jury indicted Slager on a charge of murder. In another incident police were called to a pool party in McKinney, Texas, and in an incident recorded on camera a police officer slams a 14 year old teenager to the ground and pulls his gun on several unarmed teens. The officer concerned resigned the force.
White officers kill black suspects twice a week in the United States, or an average of 96 times a year. Those are the findings of a USA Today analysis of seven years of FBI data, which claims around a quarter of the 400 annual deaths reported to federal authorities by local police departments were white-on-black shootings. What's more, the analysis indicates that 18% of the black suspects were under the age of 21 when killed by the police, as opposed to just 8.7% of white suspects. Throughout much if not all of America, black people are disproportionately more likely to be killed by the police. Statistics like these may help explain why Pew polls have demonstrated continued low confidence among non-whites in the police and justice systems. Police in general, and white cops in particular, have a pattern of disproportionately directing force against black people. All too often, cases of abuse and excessive force are simply swept under the rug. Protests involving black people are also more likely to attract police attention and use of force to disperse them. The ACLU has intensely documented an immensely troubling pattern of police militarization and found SWAT teams and other heavy-handed tactics are much more likely to be used against minority suspects than white ones:
Black Americans' mentions of race relations as the most important problem facing the U.S. reached 15% in the last quarter of 2014, up from 3% at the beginning of that year. Mentions have remained relatively high since, averaging 13% in the most recent quarter, from April to June 2015. Since early 2014, white Americans' mentions of race relations as a top problem have increased only slightly, from 1% to 4%.
The nine-percentage-point gap in the latest quarter between blacks' and whites' mentions of race relations as the top U.S. problem is significantly wider than the narrow gap of no more than four points in any year from 2002 to 2007. A number of high-profile police incidents of unarmed black men in 2014 and 2015 sparked protests across the country and elevated discussion of race relations. Three of the more highly publicized deaths involved Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Freddie Gray in Baltimore; and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.
These findings are based on six quarters of Gallup's monthly measurement of the "most important problem" question from January 2014 through June 2015.
Overall, Americans' mentions of race relations as a top problem increased from 1% in the first quarter of 2014 to 5% in the fourth quarter of 2014, including a reading of 13% in December, and have remained in the 4% to 5% range in 2015. While race relations has risen as a top issue since early 2014, dissatisfaction with government, the economy and unemployment still dominate Americans' list of the most important problems facing the country.
The top problems that blacks saw facing the country in the latest quarter were race relations (13%) and unemployment (13%), while whites most often cited dissatisfaction government (18%) and the economy in general (12%).
Blacks have consistently been more likely than whites to perceive unemployment as a top problem, a pattern Gallup has previously documented. This pattern may reflect real-world differences in unemployment among the groups. The unemployment rate was 10.2% among blacks in May 2015, more than double the 4.7% of whites who were unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Other issues that are more glaring for blacks than for whites are crime and violence as well as poverty, homelessness and hunger. The latter may reflect that blacks have lower average incomes than whites and are more likely to be living in poverty. This is also consistent with a Gallup and Healthways finding that blacks are twice as likely as whites to report having struggled to afford food at least once in the previous 12 months.
Whites are more concerned about the federal budget deficit and debt as well as terrorism, while both groups are equally likely to cite healthcare and education as top problems.
Sources: www.gallup.com and www.mic.com
By: Haroot Azarian