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Monday, October 15, 2018

Abeng Op Ed: Systematic Racism in America (Part 2)

Continued from Sytematic  Racism in America (Part 1) 
by Le'bert A. Gordon

Institutional Racism

Institutional Racism can be defined as the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture, or ethnic origin. This kind of racism is currently taking place in the form of the senseless killing of unarmed minorities by police officers without there being any criminal consequential results. Police officers are literally getting away with murder. And despite the fact that communities and individuals have risen up to shine the spotlight upon this injustice, (e.g., Black Lives Matter) day after day we hear about another Trayvon Martin, An­twon Rose, Autumn Steele, and Stephon Clark, etc. Unfortunately, this kind of racism has become an intrinsic part of our society today and is occurring more frequently with the targeting and discrimination against a certain group based upon their race. 

People who are affect­ed by Institutional Racism experience it in both the social and poli­tical institutions of society, in such disparities as those regarding Employ­ment, Housing, Health Care, the Criminal Justice System, and Education.


Employment:
Systematically, minorities in this country suffer from a higher rate of unemployment. People of color are more likely to be subjected to some form of discrimination when applying for a job, seeking a well-earned promotion, or with receiving the same salaries as their Caucasian counter-parts. Even when a person of color is more educated and has more experience than their Caucasian co-worker, they often still find themselves being forced to be subservient to them.


Housing
Unfortunately, people of color have routinely experienced discrimination in the housing market. Certain areas have gone so far as to develop neighborhood committees which ensure that the real estate agent, or agency, they use carefully screens the applicants to excludes minorities. Over a decade ago, one of the most glaring examples of institutional racism occurred with the collapse of the financial market which leveled a devastating blow upon the American economy. This crash was depicted in the movie "The Big Short." 

The crash of Wall Street sent the unemployment rate skyrocketing to an all time high. But who or what was the cause of this catastrophic event? Was it the banks that went under, the businesses that folded, or the people who tried to live above their means? Who was to blame? In a country that prides itself on being the watch dog of the world, how come no one saw this coming? 

I have a theory: every now and again, someone has to set the reset button and that is exactly what happened. Prior to the crash, low and middle class Americans were enjoying their greatest prosperity since the great depression. The employment rate was at an all time high, the economy was booming, and low and middle class individuals had saved enough money to make a down-payment on their first home. The interest rate was at an all time low making loans more readily available to minorities. As a result, the Federal Reserve extended credit to the banks and lenders in 
the form of  Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS) and instructed them to offer this particular type of mortage to the low and middle class. The initial introductory rate on these ARMS were about 3% with an adjustment of up to 12% within 3, 5, or 7 years after the individual purchased their home. What made this dangerous was that the spike in interest rate would also increase the home owner's mortgage payment. 

Contemplate this for a moment; the same people who were put in place by the financial institutions to safeguard the system encouraged minorities to purchase homes way above their income, and enter into debt which, when ballooned, could cause them to lose all their investments and savings. And this is exactly what happened. As a result, many low and middle class individuals lost their life savings and some even became so distraught that they committed suicide. On the face, the banking and lending institutions thought they were safe. They thought they would, at the
very least, regain their properties through foreclosures; they had mortgage insurance, and so their properties would ultimate be resold at auction. But what these masterminds did not predict was that there would be no quick bailing out by the government, and soon, even those who were affluent became affected and found themselves in ruin. 

High-tech companies failed, laying off most, if not all their workers and manufacturing companies also laid off millions. However, thanks to President Obama's leadership and a fiscally responsible Republican Congress, our country was able to rebound. But not before the low and middle-class Americans, many of them people of color, suffered the greatest set-back since the great depression. 

Today, thanks to the new, innovative advancement in technology, America is rebounding and Americans are going back to work. But still existing just below the surface is the threat of this same kind of institutional racism, recurring. 

Health Care:
When is comes to health care, insurance companies were often in the practice of charging minorities a higher rate to obtain coverage than Caucasians. Minorities were sometimes turned down because they were perceived by the insurance companies as high risks for contracting diseases, such as, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer, or lived in a high crime neighborhood, etc. However, Obama Care came to the aid of minorities and low-income citizens stating in effect that they could no longer be denied health care insurance solely due to a preexisting condition, nor could they be treated unfairly because of an insurance company's bias against a particular race, nor have their existing coverage cancelled - leaving them uninsured. Now-a-days, the safeguards established by Obama Care are under a vicious attack mechanism and soon, minorities may find themselves right back in the very state they were pre- Obama Care.

In our great country, excellent Health Care should be a right enjoyed by all Americans, not just the very few who can afford it.

Politics:
In a system where the majority of political candidates are Caucasians, and although they're voted into office with the help of minority votes, elected officials are often influenced by lobbyists. I'm not saying that some of these politicians didn't go to Washington with good intentions; but once there, they found that the only way anything gets done is to play the game. The rights and privileges of the American people are bargained and traded behind closed doors with the justification being that concessions had to be made and compromises given in order to achieve some good. What should be apparent is that the needs of the American people weigh very little in these back-door deals. The system proliferates the idea of helping all Americans, when in fact, the majority of laws, policies and bills enacted affect minorities disproportionately in this country.

Also, world leaders today turn a deaf ear on blatantly racist statements made by prominent politicians, like Israeli Sephar­di Chief Rabbi Yitahak Yosef, who while giving a sermon referred to black people as monkeys or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanya­hu who equated migrants fleeing war and persecution from Africa with "terrorists". 

Criminal Justice System:
Today, the United States is 5% of the world's population, yet it has 25% world's prisoners. The United States boasts, not only the highest incarceration rate, but in fact, this country houses  a total of 2.2 million people behind bars, and growing. The direct cause of this high incarceration rate was not due to Americans being criminals at a disproportionate rate than the rest of the world,  nor the U.S. having a higher crime rate to than all other countries in the world; in fact,  the significant rise in the U.S. incarceration rate was due to the death of a basketball player.

Len Bias had been drafted the number one overall pick of the Boston Celtics and died from a drug overdose. His death spurred the lobbied and calculated enactment of a war on drug bill that has spawned a 700% increase in the incarceration rate, the highest since 1970. However, as members of Congress and even our former President Obama admitted that politicians and legislators got it wrong, minorities are still suffering inadequate representation and disproportionately lengthier sentences than Caucasians in similar situatuations in our Criminal Justice System.

When asked if our American justice system is racist, former United States Attorney General, Eric Hol­der answered: 
"The system was overly punitive and overly ra­cially discriminatory." 
Former President Obama responded. "The criminal justice system interacts with a broader pattern of society in a way that results in injustice and unfairness." 

No wonder that as a result of the war on drugs, drug arrest and con­victions had increased 21% more than all other crimes combined and those arrests occurred in low income neighborhoods and thus dis­proportionately affected minorities. While I commend all of the politicians for stepping up and saying that they got it wrong and that the criminal justice system had been proven unjust in the case of minorities, don't  be fooled in to believing that their main concern was restoring fairness and equality - reform in the criminal justice system has been championed by politicians on both sides of the political aisle due to the cost of incarceration ballooning to $80 billion dollars yearly.

But now, with the current Trump administration, the Jus­tice Department is hell-bent on repeating the injustices of the past with its so-called re-energized efforts to be tough on crime, especially drug offenders. 



Education:

Here in America, our minority neighborhood schools lack the resources to adequately educate our youths to compete on par with the development of children in other parts of the world. While other countries dis­tribute their resources equally, even to rural and run down areas, in order to harvest the great minds which exist in desolate places, our schools that are located in minority neighborhoods are left under funded.

Ask yourself the question, where would America be today without the great minds which came out of poverty, such as Thurgood Marshall, Ben Carson, etc? We must build a system which upholds our principles and ideals, and in so doing, ensure that no child is left behind.



Conclusion

Systematic racism in America has resulted in the stagnated growth of minorities in this country for far too "long. We must endeavor to create a unified nation. One in which we all see ourselves as one, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It starts with each American expanding their awareness, thereby enabling themselves to not be readily judgmental or abusive of others, but embracing. We must consciously strive to create a more peaceful and effective
union. Author Hugh Prader once said: "Forgiveness is not some feudal act rosey self deception, rather it is the calm recognition that
below our egos, we are all exactly the same. We are fundamentally good, creative, and loving people." Also, consider this saying of Abraham Lincoln: "When two things are equal to one thing, they are equal to another." Let us not loose confidence in our humanity, for then chaos is ushered in, and anarchy will become the norm in society. As Americans, we all know that one's race or ethnic origin has nothing to do with great ideals and principle of a people. The misrepresentations about the true desire and the true hopes of our struggle with race has led us to this precipice. We need to reach
back and take hold of the principles that every human being has an indelible right to be treated equally. The majority of Americans fosters a belief in God and the integral role He plays in our lives, and in this respect, we are expected to become a nation which practices equality. We can no longer ascribe to casting blame on racially divisive organizations for the bias and bigotry which threatens to emasculate our great nation. We must each take responsibility and do our part. Either, you are taking an active part in the process of working towards a solution or you are a part of the problem. To stand by and do nothing is not an option. We must join together and fight for our America against hypocrisy, lies, and prejudices with all our might to the bitter end. There is no doubt that a people who does the right things is never fearful of anything. We must be staunch and persevere with determination and this will ultimately lead us to the fulfillment of the goal which we seek--A PERFECT UNION! ! !

                                                                                         
Abeng Editorial:Systematic Racism in America (Part 1)


Written by Le'bert A. Gordon, Author; Philanthropist; Paralegal.

Le'bert A. Gordon is the Author of Insights into The Male Mentality
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