There is a massive misconception that because America represents equality and freedom, true equality and freedom exist for all Americans. We assume that because slavery is outlawed and women have the right to vote that everyone is on an equal playing field and is content with their place in society. However, this could not be further from the truth. Americans of all minority groups continue to be discriminated against in their daily lives and the white power structure is very much intact and stronger than ever before.
The inequalities of today are arguably more dangerous than the overt legal inequalities of the past because today they often go unseen. Privilege is something many communities fail to recognize and the tiny daily differences among groups of people can leave a major impact. For women it's things as small as the way our clothing is sized, taxes on tampons, or the unnoticed comments by men in our lives. For non-whites, it infiltrates how they behave when walking down the street, applying for employment and housing, and how they raise their children. Immigrants to the United States today face a whole host of challenges, most recently having their children taken away from them. The LGBTQ+ community faces endless inappropriate stares, comments, and an inability to access life milestones like marriage and children that should be open to every human being.
The hard part is that fixing this kind of under the table discrimination requires that groups that are deemed superior relinquish their power. Those who live privileged lives struggle to recognize their privilege and definitely don't know how to give it up. Some Americans spend time arguing that inequalities no longer exist, while others work towards solving inequalities in ways that just breed more discrimination. Treating women special to reverse centuries of mistreatment just creates a further imbalance, assimilating those of other ethnic backgrounds into our culture just makes them feel more out of place, and as long as we fail to recognize the LGBTQ+ community as "normal", they will fail to feel accepted or supported.
Americans need to be open to being challenged by those who have lived a different life and know a different side of our country. We need to encourage conversation that educates everyone on minority rights issues and those who have lived a life of privilege need to make it their responsibility to learn just how lucky they are. It will take a very long time to create a country where everyone is truly free and equal, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try our hardest right now.
The biggest problem is that whenever we recognize difference, we will create a hierarchy. The solution to discrimination is to stop creating groups and accept everyone as equal human beings and Americans. We need to rid ourselves of gender expectations, sexuality norms, race, and questioning ethnic backgrounds. We are all so much more alike than we realize and choosing to not see our differences makes us more likely to acknowledge similarities. The truth of it is we all have experienced discrimination in some way or another, and we can use our own small or large experiences to empathize with others, hopefully working towards a country and a world that sees everyone as a key member of society that deserves every opportunity to succeed.