Americais often portrayed to be a place where everyone is free, and every man andwoman is considered equal. However, this is not always the case depending on whomyou are talking. Approximately 152 years ago, slavery in the United Statesended.
After slavery ended, racism did not unfortunately. Segregation followedbut it ended in 1954. This led up to the Civil Rights Movement which startedwhen Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama.Even after the Civil Rights Act was placed into action, black Americans stilldealt with an overwhelming amount of discrimination. Being black in America islike having a target on your back: being stolen from, and constantly dehumanized. To begin, allow me to introduce myselfmy name is Alexander Howard. I am a senator and I represent the state NewHampshire. A lawyer by trade, I started working in public services as anadvocate for Black Lives Matter afterthe recent incidents of police brutality targeting young black men like TrayvonMartin, Mike Brown, and Philando Castile.
Growing up in a suburban neighborhood,I was often times the only black child that was amongst my peers. As I grewolder I started to realize that I was getting disciplined at school and aroundthe neighborhood exceptionally, for the same shenanigans my white counterparts partookin. There is a disproportionate impact of school suspension and expulsion onblack students in southern states. 1.2 million black students that attendpublic schools from K-12 are suspended in one academic year nationally, fiftyfive percent of those suspensions happen in thirteen southern states.
Also,southern school districts are culpable for fifty percent of black studentexpulsions attending public school in the United States. In addition to being targeted from ayoung age, black Americans also have to face the sad reality of culturalappropriation, and black ideas being stolen to be marketed on. One of the mostoverlooked forms of racism is cultural appropriation, because it is often hardto draw a line between “borrowing” and exploitation. The fashion industry is anexample of a business that banks off the ideas and creativity of black Americans.
What makes cultural appropriation so dangerous is that once you take an aspectof a specific culture and label it “trendy” people will only acknowledge how the”boxer braids” make them look “cool” without the appropriate recognition of theculture. This, however, is a problem because acts like this eliminate thepeople who live the culture for profit and temporary fads. For example, imaginebuying a jellabiya ( a traditional Egyptiangarment worn by both genders ) from Forever 21 or an Egyptian American ownedbusiness, this can still be seen as cultural appropriation but it is morallybetter to benefit the cultural you are taking from rather than a white-ownedbusiness.
Another disadvantage of being blackin America is how frequently black Americans are dehumanized. The dehumanizationof black people has been happening for centuries, for example, comparing blackpeople to apes to make them seem less than human and more uncivilized. One ofthe most subtle and common ways non-black people dehumanize African Americansare in the form of fetishizing. The myth that black men are “better” in bedthan our white counterparts is flattering but also very damaging. This causespeople to only look at black men as sexually aggressive predators and not ashumans.
We have heard many stories of young white women who have racist parentsthat date a black man when her parents find out she claims that he raped her,thus leading the young black man to be arrested or lynched. Also, not only doblack Americans face discrimination in the form of fetishizing but also in thework place. Black Americans with “ethnic” names tend to have their applicationsoverlooked by businesses that are prejudiced, and the black Americans that domake it into big corporations have a hard time moving up in the businessbecause of their racial identity. This makes it hard for hardworking blackAmericans to make a good living and better their lives while also making itseem impossible for black Americans to be successful which can be damaging forblack youth. For example, I had a friend named Titobi-olowombi-palomi Williamswho was born in America, but her parents are native to Nigeria.
Titobigraduated from high school as valedictorian, and attend college at Princeton. Aftercollege, she went on to be a lawyer, but when it was time to apply to a lawfirm Titobi was heartbroken to find out that her applications were not takenseriously due to preconceived notions about individuals with ethnic names. While the thirteenth amendment endedslavery, black Americans are still not treated as equal citizens. AfricanAmericans are often times racially targeted based on racial identity.
Forexample, black students that attend public schools in southern states aregetting expelled and suspended at disproportionate rates. Also, black Americanssuffer from white-owned business stealing ideas and aspects of black culture tocapitalize off of and make a profit. The dehumanization of black Americans tendsto occur in many different ways one of them being fetishizing black body’s,which is detrimental of how people view black people.
Being black in America islike having a target on your back: being stolen from, and constantly dehumanized.Americahas a racist past, but if we all come together we can have a progressivefuture.