More often than not, parents have to sit their children down and have the “talk.” You know, that “talk.” Whether it be in the living room watching the news, or even a nonchalant conversation starter on a long drive.
The one where you have to come to terms with the fact that you are not a valued citizen, second, perhaps even third class? The one where your parents have to tell you to watch your tongue and pray that you are not targeted for being what you are.
Yes. What I mean to say is that it has become all but a norm for minorities to have this discussion with their children, to help them digest the bitter pill that is the possible reality of discrimination, random checks at the airport, stop and frisk and sometimes even life and death confrontations.
To date, the number of hate crimes against minorities in America is at 7,500 or more per year. Furthermore, among the general number of hate crimes, those against ethnic minorities (or people attacked because of race) make up approximately 4,000. This is just one end of the spectrum.
When victims of hate crimes are not being attacked for race, factors such as gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation as well as disability account for the rest. On top of the hate crimes that do happen, little has been done to truly stop them. Of the 45 states that have enacted laws against hate crimes based on race, 30 or less have done the same for gender, disability and sexual orientation bias.
Furthermore, when it comes to interactions with law enforcement, stop and frisk is one practice notorious for disproportionately targeting people of color. According to the NYCLU, of the 46,000 or so stopped and frisked by the police, 82 percent were innocent, and only 12 percent were white, meaning the others targeted were all non-white. The same can be said of other places such as Los Angeles, where pedestrian stops have doubled, and even higher for those stopped in vehicles.
Moreover, concerning “random checks” at the airport, it’s no surprise that even fourteen years after 9/11, a certain group of people is still being targeted. The Obama administration allowed for some racial profiling to occur in its new security guidelines last year. This means that not only does this profiling occur, but there is now legal “justification” for these searches.
There was actually a lawsuit filed by a woman named Shoshona Hebshi when she was strip-searched by security because of her name and seating arrangement with other passengers on the plane. Taking a step back, those from predominantly Muslim countries not only have to register with the government, they also make up 79 percent of those interrogated for security reasons.
Additionally, when looking at how many people of color are actually incarcerated, it’s important to note the actual ratio. Of the total colored population (30 percent of the United States), 60 percent of them make up the prison population, which indicates an inclination to incarcerate people of color. Furthermore, many of these arrests are for drug use or possession, with whites using drugs 5 times as much as people of color, while POC are 10 times more likely to be arrested for the same offense.
With this unfortunate statistics in mind, it is also important to remember the string of officer-involved shootings in which innocent people were shot for reasons that many would consider to be bias. One of the most notable is that of Michael Brown’s, sparking a movement that spread from Ferguson to many places around the globe. Many others involve victims that were mentally ill, or simply non-white, more often that not, unarmed as well.
People with disabilities, however, seem to be rather overlooked. Only 1 percent of hate crimes reported involved disabilities, but these numbers are usually under-reported if at all. Furthermore, when looking at the mental illness related aspect, the victims are sometimes homeless (which is another stigma entirely), and are targeted by common citizens to law enforcement.
Looking at the broader picture, the numbers can be depressing as well as discouraging when it comes to change, however there is several organizations aimed at combating the discrimination faced by many groups. They include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as well as Amnesty International to some extent.
Regardless of these efforts, discrimination is still a huge problem despite the strides made already. We need to recognize the fact that this will continue unless we take this problem on as a unified community. This means setting aside differences and working towards a more equal society. Once we see eye to eye as individuals, rather than harbor preconceived notions, then can we truly achieve egality.
My hopes are that perhaps one day in the far future, I will not have to have the same talk with my kids. Nobody should have to live with the fear of being discriminated against, or even with the idea that they are second or third class citizens. This right to equality is and should be universal.
Just a note, not everyone in America has to deal with this, fortunately. My parents had this talk with me after Chapel Hill, because not every community is as diverse and accepting as mine where I’m living. The fear is that in some places in the US, things like this happen, and we have to be ready for what could happen and the change in attitude. America is great, but we have our flaws too, and thats what criticism and dialogue are for.
Another note, several people on here and off have asked or commented on violence against women. Understand that, that in itself is a vast topic and I will hopefully have that research done soon.