The Need for Change

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Ahmaud Arbery. Alton Sterling. Keith Scott. Walter Scott. Sean Bell. George Floyd. All of these men have the same thing in common: they are black men who were killed by corrupt law officials. Their deaths are a harsh reminder of the realities many black men and women face every day.

Scrolling through social media and seeing the videos of protestors getting tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets has been a terrible reminder of where we stand as a nation.

As a 20-year-old, I have found that it is important to advocate for others and speak up about injustices. While I am a white female, and will never understand what it means to be a black American, I still empathize. I cannot imagine what it feels like to lose a family member, friend, or community member in such a tragic manner. The reality is, stereotyping and unconscious bias plays a major role in the reactions of certain individuals. It is important to educate those who may hold these biases by introducing preventative bias training in work-places, schools, and hospitals.

How did racism start?

It is necessary to understand the start of racism and the components that have allowed it to continue.

Originally, indentured servitude arose from poor white Europeans, but there was a massive shift from European to African servants during the 17th and 18th centuries [1]. This shift occurred because African servants were found to be cheaper than European servants, largely due to corruption. Many Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery as a way to make profits in the U.S. from crops, such as cotton.

As corruption was exposed by abolitionists, the abolitionist movement made waves alongside the Underground Railroad and novels, such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. However, despite the efforts to completely eradicate slavery, racism persisted.

How has racism continued?

Since the end of slavery, it has been difficult for black Americans to gain the same rights and respect as white Americans. It is a generational issue because the lack of opportunities has made it difficult for Black people to progress in society. It is also a race issue because the color of one’s skin has pre-determined their treatment by society.

In an article by ADL, Christianity was a heavy influence on racism. Many white Christians used their religious beliefs to continue systematic racism. In fact, many Christians were upset when Darwinism started to gain popularity because this meant a loss of cultural control [2]. This cultural control and false science were used on the Jewish and Black communities as a way to prove that white Christians were superior. Unfortunately, these ideas have lasted.

“Black men are more dangerous.” “Black women are angry.” These harmful statements were used to justify the incarceration rate and the exclusion of black women in society. This is what cultural control looks like in 2020.

What can you do?

While we cannot eradicate racism in one generation, we can do our best to work with minorities and give appropriate funding to schools. It is crucial to donate money and invest in future generations by providing basic access, such as textbooks, laptops, whiteboards, to all. Hopefully, this consideration for the future will give way for more diversity in work settings and reduce the correlation between race and low SES.

We need to start speaking out. As a white woman, I intend to continue speaking out against racist remarks as a way to educate those around me. According to Jennifer Richeson, a Yale psychologist, “People learn to be whatever their society and culture teaches them. We often assume that it takes parents actively teaching their kids, for them to be racist. The truth is that unless parents actively teach kids not to be racists, they will be” [3]. As future parents, it is important to teach our children anti-racist messages as a way to promote a tolerant and accepting society.

There is hope for the future. We need to dedicate our time and resources to POC and start discussing the effects of racism in the work place. We can eradicate racism, but it must start now.

Some great resources to look into during this time:

For Donations and Petitions

For BLM and Mental Health Resources

Tips for Staying Safe During Protests

Please take care of yourselves.

Works Cited

[1] History.com Editors. “Slavery in America.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 12 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery.

[2] “Racism.” Anti-Defamation League, 2020, www.adl.org/racism.

[3] William Wan, Sarah Kaplan. “Why Are People Still Racist? What Science Says about America’s Race Problem.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 14 Aug. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/08/14/why-are-people-still-racist-what-science-says-about-americas-race-problem/.

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