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Everyone can say they face or have faced personal challenges and have had concerns, but not everyone can say they’ve been through slavery or discriminated against simply by the way they look or by the history they are carrying on their shoulders, the history of having been assigned an identity through the opinion of other races and not their own. Challenges and concerns for the black population is not a thing from the past. It did not stop at the end of slavery. There are still many concerns, and although they may not be the exact same as those from the past, that doesn’t take away the level of importance of the political, economic and social concerns that are occurring nowadays on a daily for black people. Learning why the challenges and concerns we face are different is very important for making a change. It is also important to understand that changes and improvements do not happen overnight but they can make daily, weekly, and monthly progressions for a long-term result.
“Racial Profiling” refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Racial profiling is unfortunately a real and common thing that happens with law enforcement in particular. Racial profiling is much more than just racism, it has become a practice. Many officers now a day continue to rely on cultural stereotypes to “keep the community safe”. It is not a local problem yet a national one. It has led to many brutalities, injustices, and even fatalities. “it alienates communities from law enforcement, causes law enforcement to lose credibility and trust among the people they are sworn to protect and serve”. This political concern has is not something that happened out of nowhere or that is new. According to Huffpost. com it dates way back to the 1700s and has a recent manifestation of discriminatory conduct by law enforcement.
During the 1700s in South Carolina and other southern states “Black people were subjected to interrogations and harassment and whippings and other physical punishment – even death — if they were determined to have runaway”. They were required to walk around with freedom papers in order to prove their freedom upon search or questioning. Unfortunately, that is no different from what is going on today. “Today, Black people are often suspected of committing crimes like drug possession which then leads to a vehicle search a stop-and-frisk or a pat down. The common factors in all of this despite the fact that we are nearly at hundred and 150 years removed from the end of slavery is blackness and the racist association of dark skin with criminality and wrongdoing”. It has even created certain phrases to label the constant searches without warrants. “Driving While Black” which generally means if you are black, you might be pulled over and be questioned and/or even searched based solely on the way you look and how the officer perceives you. There is also a modern one called “Living while black or brown”. One of the results of racial profiling has been another major problem, which is police brutality.
Police brutality is yet another misconduct of police. It is “the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians”. The most popular form of police brutality has been with the use of guns and has led to many deaths. It is understood that anyone can experience police brutality but according to Mapping Police Violence, “Police killed 1, 147 people in 2017. Black people were 25% percent of those killed despite being only 13% of the population”. February 4th, 1999, a West African immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot forty-one times in New York City. It shouldn’t have to take cases like this to spark interest on a national level but this is what the lack of interest often leads to. It should no longer be a surprise because this is an ongoing tragedy. It is important to mention that is man was unarmed. He simply came out of his apartment to see what has happening in his building since four New York cops barged into his building where he lived. These officers saw a black man and claimed he posed a threat so they shot to kill. Shooting to kill unarmed “prospects” has been occurring too often. Yes, if an officer is feeling threatened or feel that the life of others in endangered, then they must so their job to protect, but being shot 41 times is not going to “extra save” someone’s life. Of course not all cases are police brutality, for example, early September 2018 a man was shot on the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego, he was armed and he did use it, so he was shot to prevent injuries or fatalities to the community who was around. This man survived and is now in jail.
Now that is law protection and not just another case of police brutality. The public understood that and did not even try and say it was racism or police brutality. There is also a very common word found in many of the cases that involve police brutality on a black man and that is “mistook”. An example of that is a recent case, a white Dallas officer, Amber Guyger, who killed Botham Jean in his own home. Details to keep in mind are that he was unarmed and she was off duty and it was in his home. “Ms. Guyger has told investigators that she mistook Mr. Jean’s apartment for her own, that his door was slightly ajar and that it opened when she tried to unlock it. But lawyers for Mr. Jean’s family have said the door was closed, and that neighbors heard someone banging on the door, demanding to be let in, before the gun was fired. ” Racial profiling often leads to explanations that do not make sense and are not relatable. How does one mistake their own home? And even if that happened as soon as one would walk in, one would think they would immediately notice that they went into the wrong home.
The relationship between black people, more specifically black men, and law enforcement in America is evident. “HuffPost spoke to 11 black gun owners about their reasons for owning a firearm. Trump was a non-factor. Instead, they talked about wanting to protect themselves out of fear that no one else would. They talked about their anxieties during interactions with the police and their complex views on gun regulation”. Carmichael mentions in the text Black Power that “Only when black people fully develop this sense of community, of themselves, can they begin to deal effectively with the problems of racism in this country”. In this case it was carrying guns to protect themselves since there was no trust in the law to protect them.
This all connects to the economic al concern of being one of the races to be most likely to live in poverty high crime urban areas. The African American poverty rate as of 2017 is 21. 2%, which is about 9 million people, as for the White Poverty rate as of 2017 is 8. 7%. Many low-income areas result in having high crime rates. Many times when crimes are committed by a black person who lives in poverty and commits burglary, of food for example to feed their child, is often just seen as a criminal doing harm and that’s it. They are often only portrayed as “bad people”. “Why don’t they work?” is a common question. Well, the only life many people growing up in those areas only know one way of living because of the lack of opportunity to do otherwise. A lot of kids growing up in these circumstances are told they won’t make it out or will be just like their parents or siblings, or will just end up in prison since “African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites”.
In the text Black Power, Stokley Carmichael talks about integrations and how what it meant for black people differed from what it meant to white people. He states, “too many of them, it means black man wanting to Mary White daughters; it means “race mixing” – to black people, it hasn’t meant a way to improve their lives – economically and politically. But the predominant white definition has stuck in the minds of too many people”. Integration is not wanting to be seen as equal, its simply wanting to improve their lifestyles and living conditions. There is a song my Tupac Shakur, an American rap legend, that perfectly describes this life. His mother Afeni, “A single mother of two children, Tupac’s mother Afeni struggled for money. The family moved homes often, sometimes staying in shelters”. Tupac himself began to sell drugs, the very drug his mother would buy off on the same streets and became addicted to. In his song “Livin’ in the Projects” he explains his lifestyle and challenges he faced as a black man living in the projects. The definition of projects is “a government-subsidized housing development with relatively low rents” and is also places with public housing. The projects have a reputation of being high crime areas.
The social concern is the aspect of criminal victimization and the victim mindset that has been derived from the “identity” that has been placed on black people by other people on social media and news that are generally not black themselves. Many times the very people that have criminally victimized a black person have never had a negative encounter with a black person but has learned prejudice through other ways. It is often done unconsciously and all it takes is for a person to hear or see negative words and images about to race. Criminal victimization, according to StandfordLawReview. org is “the idea that the moral status of a wrongful act turns in part on the degree to which the wrong’s victim is vulnerable or innocent and the wrongdoer preys upon that vulnerability or innocence”.
Crime victimization has major consequences not only political and emotional but social consequences as well as emotional and often times physical. The place where one can see the most criminal victimization happening is on the news media. For example, in the case that was spoken about on the black man Botham Jean, a man who had never been convicted of a crime. After the killing of this man there was a search warrant sent out to search his home for marijuana, even though this had absolutely nothing to do with him being shot by an off-duty now fired white police officer. “But the situation was also familiar, another example of how unarmed black men who are victims in police shootings are defamed and made to look like criminals even in death – “It took a white Dallas police officer to break into his home and shoot him to death for him to become painted as a criminal. ” They do it to “self-justify” their “white guilt”. “Nothing holds someone back more than seeing himself as a victim, ” says Starkes. “Why?
Because a victim is not responsible for his situation. Everything is someone else’s fault. And the victim sees little chance of improving his life. How can he get ahead if someone is holding him back? – This is how too many blacks see themselves, as victims. So much so that their victim status becomes their primary identity…” states author Taleeb Starkes, author of Black Lies Matter. This is where one of Carmichael’s steps to achieving Black Power ties in, Reclaiming Identity and redefining it. Accepting this identity of being a victim is surrendering the fight or reclaiming who they want to redefine themselves as. Carmichael’s stance on this is “if we accept these adjectives, as some of us having the past, then we see ourselves only in the negative way, precisely the way white America wants us to see ourselves. Our incentive is broken and our will to fight is surrendered”.
Racial profiling, the high black population on poverty, and criminal victimization are modern-day political, economic, and social concerns that black people are facing on a daily basis. Those are not the only concerns and not only do they affect the individual but the people around them. Action is required for a change or at least a progression towards improvement. Understanding and education one selves in other cultures and races other than just our own is a big step one can take towards improvement.
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