Since protests against systematic racism began with the murder of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis, many have asked, “Why are black people so angry?” They say slavery ended over 150 years ago, and the Civil Rights Act was passed over half a century ago, so why can’t they just move on?
The problem is that while on paper we claim to be a society that believes in equality, in reality, the covert racism is so deeply embedded in our social structures, we do not see our biases that oppress the people of color in our daily lives.
While laws were enacted to say that it is illegal to discriminate based on color, not uprooting the internalized white supremacy in individuals enabled the abuse of power and misuse of public authority to become common practices and as accepted norms. What we now have is social, educational, legal, civic, and criminal systems colluding to enforce racist policies and practices, all the while claiming that they are upholding the “law” or the “norm” of the land.
Collusion starts early. The educational system will show preferential treatment to white students, and when the African American students question the teachers’ biases, they are accused of being defiant. The medical profession then will diagnose children with “defiant disorder” and force the child to be medicated with psychotropic drugs. If parents oppose the diagnosis or refuse to put children on these mind-numbing drugs, then the social service system will declare parents as unfit and remove children from their families and place the children in a white foster care system. Next, the children have to deal with being removed from the love of their families, the loss of all social connections, and the label of having a mental illness. These children are traumatized, and their educational progress is disrupted. Also, living in communities that are labeled as “gang-infested” by law enforcement, they are routinely rounded up, thrown on the ground, searched, questioned as to why they are there or what they are doing, handcuffed and incarcerated by police. The judicial system declares them to be criminals or future criminals if they are young and imprison them for the same insignificant offenses, whereas the white perpetrators will be given a lecture and released. If they are released from the prison system, the probation system imprisons them emotionally, mentally, and socially for many more years. The economic system then says they cannot be trusted as an employee and denies them career opportunities. The social system denies their constitutional rights, and they are not allowed to vote and participate in civic life. All this happens for only one reason; they are “Black.” And on top of all that, when they come to a church, they are told that the “Black church” is down the street.
The black community is justifiably angry. The crime of the African American community is that they are black in America. They are living reminders of the sins of the U.S. and our moral failure. They display injustices and inequity that we try to hide. They reveal to us the racist history as well as the systematic racism that exists in the U.S. today. They expose the lies we tell ourselves every day as we claim the virtues of being a country that welcomes all people and treats everyone equally and with dignity. We need to hear their anger and accept them.