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Racism a poison running through American body politic

By Zhong Sheng | People's Daily Online | Updated: 2022-05-30 10:26
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It’s been two years since George Floyd died under the knee of a white police officer. The African American’s death sparked lasting and widespread protests across the US in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “I can’t breathe” has become a slogan for racial and ethnic minority groups in the US to oppose racism.

However, systemic racism, a “stain on the soul of America,” is still a huge obstacle on the way of racial and ethnic minorities in the US to pursue human rights.

Just as The Washington Post put it, people of all races took to the streets to demand accountability, justice and reform, and Black people should not continue to be targeted for harm based on the color of their skin. However, it’s been two years and Black people still can’t breathe.

Racism is a deep-rooted tumor of the American society. It is continuing to cause human rights tragedies for the racial and ethnic minorities in the US

According to USA Today, hundreds of people from ethnic minority groups were killed by US law enforcement officers just within a year after the death of George Floyd. Statistics released by American social groups indicated that 266 African Americans were killed by police officers last year, and they were almost three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police.

At the 49th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council held in March this year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet noted that given the large number of deaths of African Americans caused by police brutality in the US, relevant departments should take practical actions to investigate into such cases and bring relevant lawbreakers to justice.

Racism is an institutional and systemic defect of the US It is embodied in every aspect of the American society.

In February 2021, Stanford News, a website of Stanford University, carried an article examining systemic racism in the US The article suggests that in education, youth of color are more likely to be closely watched; in the criminal justice system, people of color, particularly Black men, are disproportionately targeted; and in the economy and employment, from who moves forward in the hiring process to who receives funding from venture capitalists, Black Americans and other minority groups are discriminated against in the workplace and economy-at-large.

Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C. based think tank, pointed out that the structural racism in the US has deprived colored communities of the opportunity to lift their social stratum, making it harder for colored groups to get higher-quality education, jobs, housing, healthcare and equal judicial treatment.

According to a report by the US News & World Report, the US ranked among the bottom 10 countries for racial equality.

Racism is exacerbating social divide in the US, making discrimination, hatred and violence prevalent.

The recent mass shooting targeting at African Americans in Buffalo, New York astonished the world. From the 2015 shooting by a white gunman at an African American church in North Carolina, to the 2019 El Paso killing targeting at Latinos, and to the rising Asian hate after COVID-19 broke out, the US has been seeing more and more hate crimes motivated by racism.

According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, 32 percent of Black adults, 21 percent of Asian adults and 14 percent of Hispanic adults in the US said they worried every day or almost every day that they might be threatened or attacked because of their race or ethnicity, while this figure was 4 percent among White Americans.

Do equality and human rights really exist in a society where people’s rights to life and existence, the most important human rights, are measured by their skin colors?

The repeated tragedies like the death of George Floyd prove that systemic racism needs a systemic response, said a UN official. There needs to be a comprehensive rather than a piecemeal approach to dismantling systems entrenched in centuries of discrimination and violence, the official added.

However, the US system cannot dismantle racial inequality and discrimination for African Americans, said E. Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Given the polarization of American politics, the US government can barely roll out any practical measure to narrow the racial gap. Some American politicians even publicly resorted to right-wing extremism to fuel the white supremacy.

The US President admitted that “White supremacy is a poison running through our body politic” in a recent visit to the city of Buffalo.

However, the current political system is not only unable to offer an antidote, but also constantly exacerbating the systemic racism.

Without racial justice, the US cannot be a truly free and democratic country. Two years after George Floyd was killed, the systemic racism of the US society is still there and making ethnic minority groups unable to breathe. This is how human rights are “protected” in the country.

The US should face up to its deep-rooted systemic racism to avoid further human rights tragedies.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)


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