Updated: Jun 23
From Emmett Till to George Floyd, Martin Luther King Jr. to Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks to W.E.B Du Boise, racism has proven, yet again, to be a severe issue in the United States of America. Having been established by the Founding Fathers, America is supposed to symbolize equal rights, equal opportunity, and freedom beyond anything else. However, time after time, the United States disappoints its Founding Fathers, committing the most egregious, vile, and unconstitutional acts.
Although some may say that there are only a few bad apples in this American bunch, this is true, yet untrue. The majority of Americans are law-abiding and amiable citizens who believe in the multicultural melting-pot that the U.S.A stands for. However, there are a select few who choose to exemplify the 17th-century racism that most Americans look down upon. Thus, it is clear that this endemic xenophobia and bigotry are deep-rooted into the fabrics of this nation.
Racism towards the African American minority has been occurring since the revolutionary and civil wars. West African slaves were brought to the southern part of the "Land of Liberty" to toil cotton plantations in torturous and sweltering conditions. These slaves, who later became known as African Americans, were not even given the right to vote or become citizens until the 1860s and 1870s. Frederick Douglass once famously stated, "Slavery is not abolished until the black man has the ballot." Therefore, slavery was not abolished in 1865, but rather five more agonizing years later in 1870. From the day West African slaves set foot on American soil, they were considered subservient to whites. Sadly, it seems that the trend continues with the tragic death of George Floyd.
Reading the controversial book To Kill A Mockingbird revealed what racism meant in the 19th and 20th centuries. For those who have not read the book, I thoroughly recommend it. In the classic novel, a black man is accused, by a white woman, of a crime he did not commit. The man was sentenced to death and later killed. This abhorrent pattern, unfortunately, repeated throughout history, occurs because of one simple phrase: "Because I can." The white woman in To Kill A Mockingbird could. James Earl Ray, the man who killed M.L.K Jr., could. The white woman who accused Emmett Till of offending her could. The two white men who killed him, could too. Later, those same white men, J.W Milam and Roy Bryant, were placed in front of an all-white jury and were not convicted of allegedly killing Emmett Till. However, a year later, protected under Double Jeopardy, they confessed to having murdered the 14-year-old boy in cold blood. Lastly, it seems that racism is not a 19th or 20th-century issue and that we, as a nation, are still struggling to overcome and eradicate the brutal bias and intolerance that racism embodies. The former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd, could. White supremacy is as huge a problem as racism, and it proves to be a recurring issue in the American way of life.
On May 25th, 2020, at 8:01 P.M, George Floyd was arrested for using a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill - a petty crime that would have resulted in a 6-12 month jail sentence. When "Minneapolis' finest" arrived at the scene to apprehend George Floyd, Derek Chauvin and three other police officers handcuffed him. They practically dragged him the squad car to be driven to the police precinct. However, this was not a regular arrest. When George Floyd got nearer to the door of the backseat, he tripped, and Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on George Floyd's neck for over 9 minutes. This awful, abominable, appalling, and atrocious incident has led to George Floyd's death and the imprisonment of all four police officers on the scene.
Nevertheless, it has also sparked nationwide protests in support of the Floyd family and all black lives. This landmark event demonstrates that white supremacy and racism are not behind us, but rather an ongoing battle which woefully continues to be prevalent in the 21st century. These revolts will hopefully instigate substantial changes in the federal law and a real, painstaking abolition of hate, bias, xenophobia, and bigotry in this country.
In the Wall Street Journal today, I witnessed the dejection, disappointment, and demoralization that this nation is facing as it tries to get back on its feet and support the Floyd family. But I also saw hope, power in numbers, perseverance, and courage to end endemic racism in America for posterity.
I am writing this because I want to see change, and I wish to be a part of it.
~ Aniketh Arvind