Racism Is Alive and Well in America
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Commentary by Becky Tallent | FāVS News
Racism is an ugly word. What it creates is even uglier.
But racism is alive and well in the U.S., creating multiple problems for people no matter what their skin tone. Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently said America has failed to address the pervasive racism embedded in the country, leading to more struggle.
News reports this year show multiple cases, including the Florida event where a man killed three African Americans at a Dollar store. The shooter left behind a statement about his hatred of Black people. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama’s revised congressional map, ruling the map diluted the voting power of Black voters. Some experts have said the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns made racial tensions and hatred worse.
In July, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll showed 45% of Americans think racism is a big problem while 38% said it is not the biggest problem and 14% said it is not a problem. More recently, the Pew Charitable Trust in August asked how Americans viewed racism, and the results were, at best, mixed.
The biggest divide the Pew research shows is the number of people who do not see racism where it exists and those who do see racism where it exists.
Specifically, the study found 53% of those questioned said people not seeing racial discrimination where it does exist is a bigger problem while 45% point to people who see racial discrimination where it does not exist as the larger issue.
Breaking the Pew study out by demographics, most white Republican-leaning respondents said they see the larger issue of racial discrimination where it does not exist, with respondents aged 50 and older more likely to say this. Responding people of color and Democrat-leaning voters said the larger issue is people not seeing racial discrimination where it does exist.
Although the U.S. signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1966, HRW said the U.S. has not always lived up to its pledge to end racial discrimination. HRW noted while there has been improvement, there are still forms of subtle discrimination at work here.
Subtle discrimination takes many forms, and people of color/other minorities are very familiar with the various methods. These include stereotyping, open hostility or sending aggressive messages using words or body language. Basically, the person who is the subject feels uneasy, excluded, ignored, silenced and rejected.
The American Psychological Association says any form of discrimination is harmful because it dehumanizes people.
As someone who has been the subject of racial discrimination, I can assure you it is at best frustrating and, at worst, does exactly what is intended — makes the person feel less than human.
Beyond the personal to the financial: Citigroup projected on 2020 racial discrimination against African Americans alone financially cost the U.S. $16 trillion since 2000. Not acting on reversing discrimination will cost an additional $5 trillion by 2025.
Citigroup said the reason for the losses included wage disparity, discriminatory lending practices, discrimination in housing credit and discrimination in higher education loans. That is all just from one racial group, it does not include losses from Hispanics, Native Americans/Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, Arab Americans and biracial or multiracial groups.
A key to solving the problem is racial justice, defined as resolving discrimination that harms some while benefiting others. John R. Allen of the Brookings Institute called on Americans to strive for racial justice for all minority groups, that staying silent and inactive about racism is simply not acceptable.
Allen noted there are “countless untold acts of racism that take place every day across America” adding the soul of America is at stake and everyone has a responsibility to be part of the solution.
Racism is ugly, and it has a profound cost personally and financially. It is worth our while to find ways to stop racism, or at the very least slow it down.
It won’t be easy and there are many people who cannot be swayed. But it is worth the effort to find ways to at least reduce the racist ideologies currently poisoning the U.S. and costing all citizens a lot of money.
An award-winning journalist and public relation professional, Rebecca “Becky” Tallent was a journalism faculty member at the University of Idaho for 13 years before her retirement in 2019. Tallent earned her B.A. and M.Ed. degrees in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma and her Educational Doctorate in Mass Communications from Oklahoma State University. She is of Cherokee descent and is a member of both the Indigenous Journalists Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. She and her husband, Roger Saunders, live in Moscow, Idaho, with their two cats.