White supremacy and racism in US a major threat to human rights
That Barack Obama was elected US president twice and Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed last month as the first African-American woman justice on the US Supreme Court is laudable. But these facts cannot hide the sad truth that racism and white supremacy are growing at an alarming rate in the United States.
The killing of 10 African Americans on May 14 in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, by 18-year-old white suspect Payton Gendron was the latest reminder of the brutal reality. Eleven of the 13 people the white suspect shot at the Tops Friendly Market were Black.
Gendron travelled 320 kilometers from his hometown in rural New York with the aim of killing Black people. He wore a bulletproof vest and had reportedly painted a derogatory term for Black people and the number"14"which symbolizes white supremacy on the barrel of his semi-automatic rifle.
Such incidents are not so "rare" as some US political leaders claim. Just in the past few years, such horrific incidents have occurred in El Paso, Texas, where a white gunman killed 23 people in Walmart by targeting Mexicans in 2020; in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where a white gunman shot 11 people in a synagogue in 2019; in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist killed nine African Americans during a Bible study in a church in 2015.
The genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans may be a thing of the past, but racism and white supremacy are sadly not. In fact, racism and white supremacy are on the rise.
A research by New York-based Anti-Defamation League released two months ago showed that US white supremacist propaganda was at historically high levels in 2021. And various polls and numbers have revealed that racism and the racial gap still plague the US society even 58 years after Martin Luther King Jr. made his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.
For example, the median wealth of Black households in the US was only $24,100 in 2019, compared with $189,100 for white households. Such economic disparity denies African Americans many opportunities from the day they are born, including in education and jobs.
When I mentioned the appalling racial wealth gap, and the virtual racial segregation, at a seminar at the Columbia University Journalism School years ago, two young African-American women sitting in the audience applauded to show their appreciation for my frankness.
According to a Gallup poll released in February, about 68 percent respondents in the US were dissatisfied with the state of race relations, while only 28 percent were satisfied.
Another Gallup poll last July showed that African Americans' accounts of being mistreated are steady or higher than before in the workplace, during shopping, in dealing with police, in getting healthcare and in other fields.
And most of the respondents to a Pew survey among Hispanic adults said that having a darker complexion decreases their ability and chances of getting ahead in life while being white helps get ahead more easily.
Asian Americans are not immune to racism either. According to a Pew survey released on May 9, about one-third of the Asian American respondents said they have changed their daily routine due to concerns over the growing threats and attacks. About 63 percent said violence against Asian Americans is increasing.
Yet growing white supremacy and racism are not limited to the US. A survey by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2019 found that 30 percent of people of African descent in Europe experienced race-related harassment and 39 percent felt discriminated against.
The European Union, too, is facing a tough battle against rising right-wing populism, and the spread of Islamophobia, xenophobia and white supremacy.
White supremacy and racism have become a major challenge to human rights in the US and the EU, something they should address urgently and seriously, instead of endlessly lecturing the developing world on human rights.
The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.