A racist person believes that groups of humans possess different behavioural traits corresponding to physical appearance like skin colour and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. Such an individual may hold a view to mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity.
To cut to the chase, black people have suffered the worst of all of the above. However, worse things have happened during the age of slavery and today racism exists in various forms. They may be shown through violent treatment of others but also as a normal routine cultural view and opinions of others. The recent happenings in the United States after the killing of a black unarmed man George Floyd in the hands of the police in daylight has highlighted again the extent of the vice in the American society. Floyd died under the heavy weight of a police officer who knelt on his neck during an arrest. The horrific incident happened as fellow police officers watched. Floyd passed away crying for his dear life telling the officer repeatedly that he could not breathe. Such treatments are daily routine for the black community and police killings during arrest have occurred many times before.
The case of George Floyd depicts modern day racism, a systemic form of racism existent in society. The system has created a culture of inconspicuous racial behaviour that excludes the black people from equally enjoying rights as the whites or another race. From the police arrest to the justice system, from education system to employment. They are systematically deliberately disadvantaged by design to be excluded.
Racial prejudices happen at times without the the person even realising he or she is racist while giving statement with racial undertones. I recently came across a tweet from a lady who in her previleged status thought it’s right to equate the Black lives matter movement to animal right movement. At the back of her mind and in her learned culture or environment her thoughts are shaped to view the black man inferior.
Racial bias may even go unnoticed in some instances because it may come accross as normal statement or banter. When you look at how the British press have handled Meghan Markle’s life since she got married in to the British royal family, it may seem like reporting news but there is an underlying racial issue that she is undeserving of royalty and the suspicion tied to her skin of embarrassing the family. The press has targeted her in unprecedented fashion. This is just one example of everyday ordeal of members of black communities in the West.
Few days before the horrific death of George Floyd, a white woman called the police on a black man in New York Central park for advising her to put her dog on a leash because it was not allowed in that side of the park. Her exact words to the police 911 were, “am going to tell them (police) an African American man is threatening my life”. She added his skin colour because by design and culture she knew she stood at a point of advantage over a black person and decided to use her white privilege status to harm an innocent man. She knew what she was doing and she very well knew how police officers handle reports on black people. In this one case things did not go her away mainly because of the eye witnesses and video recordings of the event. Events like these and many others remind us that racism is very much alive and due to existence of technology it’s being recorded
I recently read on the BBC news website an accomplished journalist from my country Kenya Larry Madowo who is in New York city for further studies give his account of what he faced when he first arrived in the United States.
He writes, “In my first week in New York City last summer, I was invited to dinner at a friend’s penthouse on the wealthy Upper West Side.I picked up some fruit for her and arrived at her building carrying a plastic bag.The front desk sent me through an open courtyard to the back of the building, past residents’ garbage bags and into a surprisingly dirty lift. When I got off upstairs, my host opened the door mortified, all the colour drained from her face”. “My racist doorman thought you’re a delivery guy and made you use the service elevator,” she explained as she apologised.
When it comes to prison sentences, a black man will get a worse sentence than a white American even for the same crime. The justice system is very much biased in various cases a black suspect would never get a fair hearing.
To eradicate the vice of racism from the world, a collective effort to arrest the situation is required and one that must come from the societies that have racist individuals and systems, otherwise it will always be BLM movement Vs a systematic and institutionalised vice that remains in society. Statements, posters and billboards alone will not change racist individuals behaviour. Racism is a learnt behaviour that one needs to unlearn and for this to happen society must change how they view and what they pass on to their children. Racists do not live in isolation, they are a representation and their behaviour is a manifestation of the society they live in.