I took an education class last year, Intro to Diversity, that pulled me into different articles, videos, and peoples' experiences that opened my eyes further into a discriminatory system that has trickled down from our history, and lives on today. If you attend ECU, or plan to in the future, I highly recommend this class. This trickle down system is called Systemic Racism. What is Systemic Racism you ask?
Well, lets break down the two words to explain how they come together. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the adjective form of Systemic as "fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political practice". The dictionary defines the noun form of Racism as "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race". When we put those two words together, we can define Systemic Racism, or as some may know it as Institutional Racism, as "Racial discrimination that has become established as normal behavior within a society or organization".
Okay, so that's the technical roundabout definition of Systemic Racism. I'll break it down even further for many that don't actually know or understand how it works, or how we came about living this way. There are these things we have called stereotypes and prejudices that didn't just appear out of thin air. Our society and culture have long ingrained how we place people into categories based on skin color. Because of these notions we have towards people of color, we have ultimately downgraded human beings into a lower class.
We'll take a further look into proof of separation, based on the color of our skin, in how this country is ran, and who is at the bottom.
Wealth: There is an ongoing inequality with income and debt differences between white people and black people. Because many people of color aren't able to reach the same level as white people in society, their income is far less than the climbing debt they incur. As of 2016, white people make 7 times more than black people, while their debt exceeds that of the majority of white people. If you don't believe me, type anything into the Internet search engine about wealth and debt gaps between races, and you'll get roughly the same figures in each article you pull up.
Education: We still have less people of color with high school diplomas and college degrees in this nation. Because of where someone lives, and where they are on the poverty spectrum, opportunities for education diminish, or are hard to obtain. 26% of black students are in the smaller share of the student body in colleges. There are percentages between white people and people of color that are not equal and have remained this way for such a long time. Everyone should be afforded the same opportunities in education. No one should be treated differently in how they learn because of their skin color.
Employment: More black people are unemployed than white people. According to the Pew Research Center in 2015, white people were at 4.5%, and black people were at a 10.3% rate of unemployment. From the discrepancies in our system, many black people aren't afforded the same opportunities as white people to obtain a steady job. If we move away from the unemployment side of race inequalities, even corporate America has minimal leadership roles for black people. According to Forbes, there are only 4 black CEO's on the Fortune 500. That's 0.8%, while African-American's are only 13.4% of the American population.
While you may be wondering where that low percentage of our American population is coming from that makes up our black community, hop on over to this link of the census, and check out how unequal America is when it comes to the percentage of each race in this country. White people are not the minority, and aren't anywhere close to that.
Incarceration: We lose many black people to the prison system. Many of these men and women are charged for minor crimes, or have targets on their backs just because of their skin color. NAACP states, "In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population." A word to take to heart that many law enforcement officers consciously or subconsciously use is profiling. The dictionary defines this as "the act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits or tendencies." Because of prejudices that have been taught, people are racially profiled and picked up for crimes they haven't committed. Men and women are murdered in cold blood because of profiling. In 2019, 1,099 people were killed by police. 24% of those killed were black in which only 13% make up the American population. You can't tell me there isn't a problem here.
Phew! I've only covered a few of the topics about inequality in America when it comes to black people, but there is so much more. People need to open their eyes, and educate themselves on the discrepancies in this world that have come from this system we live in America. Because of slavery and rights being taken away from black people, they have struggles that white people will never understand. As a white person, when you feel like you have it hard, think about the black people in America that have it even harder, just because of skin color. We need to vote to change legislation. We need to join in with our fellow black Americans in lending a hand or voice to change this system of injustice they endure on a daily basis. Do some research, read some books, and talk to people.
Until there is real change, there will continue to be unrest.