Racism In America

Racism–especially in America–is a very common and well known issue. It is an issue that is present all over the world, but for the purpose of this project, I am going to focus on America alone. What exactly leads to racism? What or who contributes to it the most? If we take a look at the internet, at the news, and any form of social media, you will see that police are the ones contributing to this problem the most. 2020 is a perfect example to showcase just how bad police brutality and racism has gotten in America, and it isn’t getting any better. 

Police contribute to the issue of racism in many different ways. One way they contribute to this problem is by treating black people completely different from whites. We have seen it time and time again where police have brutalized black people and it never ends well, and there’s just too many examples of this happening that we can’t keep track of them all. Police tend to profile black people, they get aggressive with them, and make it so that black people mess up with just a simple mistake, leading them to losing their lives the majority of the time. Take Eric Garner’s case for example: he was stopped by police because they believed he was selling single cigarettes from packs with no tax stamps. Then when an officer placed his hand on Garner’s shoulder Garner pushed it away and the police later placed his hands on Eric Garner’s neck and was wrestling him down. Multiple officers were holding him face down even when he repeated to the officers “I can’t breath” eleven times. Later when he lost consciousness he laid on the sidewalk for seven minutes. White people would never be treated this way, so why are black people the ones that have to put up with this mistreatment? The thing that makes this worse is that the police officers got away with just a small slap on the wrist. 

Racism in our country always puts black people at a disadvantage. When we take a look at statistics, black people are four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana when compared to white people in general. According to the ACLU, blacks are seven to eight times more likely than whites to get busted for possession of marijuana in specific states like Iowa, D.C., Minnesota, and Illinois. Racial bias has cost people their lives and their freedom, which is why some states are fighting for the legalization of Marijuana in the U.S. This would stop these things from happening, and blacks would get the justice they earned. 

Things have gotten out of hand in our country, that it has led people to protest for change even in the middle of a pandemic. For this project I interviewed Ms. Foard, a teacher at Animo Jefferson Middle School, and an activist who loves to get involved in the fight for certain issues. In my interview, we discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, whether or not the protests are making a difference for black lives, and what goals she would like to see come out of her activism and the BLM movement in general. The following is a condensed version of the interview, but it hits on the main points:


Zytlali Vidal: Did you ever expect the BLM movement/protest to become as violent as they did?

Ms. Foard: I did. I also think it was a combination of things. When George Floyd was killed, we were several months into a pandemic. People had been home for a really long time, they hadn’t gotten unemployment or stimulus checks, and they were just getting really antsy. They were just fed up with a lot of things. I think if George Floyd wouldn’t have happened during the pandemic, and not during the Trump era, it probably would have been a little different. I think if he was killed when Obama was president and not in a pandemic, I don’t think it would have gotten to the scale that it did. 

ZV: Do you think these protests have made a difference for Black lives? 

Ms. Foard: I think that the protests have increased awareness. I don’t know if you know or have ever heard of a person named Rodney King. He was beat up in LA by the police back in 1991 and it was caught on video. People protested about that, but before cell phones and before the internet people just didn’t know what was going on, so I think now these protests have brought awareness to people. To say that they have actually changed things in a real way, I don’t think we’re at that point yet. I mean, there was just somebody killed by the police in Ohio, a 19 year old walking into his house, his own home, killed by the police…. This is a really big problem. So to shorten it up, I think it has helped to raise awareness but I don’t think it’s changed in a significant way. That’s not to say that it won’t in the future, though.

ZV: What do you think needs to be done to get to where we want to be? 

Ms. Foard: There is a call for defunding the police, and I think that that would be a step in the right direction. I think that Los Angeles spends an obscene amount of money on the police. I think it’s something like 63% of their budget being spent on the police. So I think if LA and New York, and all these places… instead of putting money to the police, they can put it to schools and healthcare and mental health issues, because a lot of the times when police are called to handle a tough situation, they are called to a situation where someone has a mental health issue and they have no idea what to do. They go in there with their guns or their tasers and they have no idea how to handle somebody with these issues. If money is better used to improve social health issues, we can alleviate problems before we have to call the police. So I think we can start by defunding the police. 

ZV: What are some of the outcomes/goals you would like to see come out of your activism and the movement in general?

Ms: Foard: I think the key to moving forward is for young people to be involved in these struggles and for young people to be the ones that are making these changes and are leading us into a new era. If it’s always older politicians in charge, we can’t rely on them to change laws. We have to be in the forefront… people especially young black and brown people have to be in the forefront, so that is essentially my hope. […] I think young people are the ones that have the power to change the future, old people really don’t get it since they’re stuck in the past, so I think young people–especially brown and black young people–should be leading the change. 

Based on the things I read and the interview with Ms. Foard, I want to get involved more to make a change in the world. Racism towards black people is a major issue that will not be solved unless we do something to change that.