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This is the World We Live In

This is the World We Live In

This is the World We Live In

An Essay by Talula Asher

We have all encountered some kind of discrimination, whether it be religious, gender, age, sexual orientation, and so forth. What most people do not realize, however, that racial discrimination is actually the most common and we as a nation need to be aware of this. I had a recent incident, not necessarily directed towards me but someone had said to me that they would not use public restrooms because they “don’t like using the same restroom as a negro”. This person was stuck on the idea of segregation because they had this stereotype of people with a different race. I have seen a lot more of this happening lately, like the riots, hate crimes, white supremacy movements, and more. We have gotten out of hand and people talk about it but no one really does anything to make it stop. Discrimination has been around for hundreds of years and it has changed a lot. We went from white supremacy and “blackface” all the way to killing people and creating products that use racial advertisement. Although discrimination has been around for so long, not many people even know about it.

Brent Staples from The New York Times stated that “In the 19th century, minstrel entertainers spawned a racist caricature that endures to this day when they darkened their faces to portray black people as grinning, dancing, simpletons”. I have spoken to many people about this and I have come to realize many younger people have no clue about who or what “blackface” is. “Blackface” is a racist depiction of a white person with black makeup covering their face, simply used to undervalue black people. The caricature of “blackface” has not yet gone away though, because over several months Gucci, Prada, and Katy Perry were forced to withdraw several items from the market because they were revealing designs that showed how the caricature of “blackface” manifests itself through people who are blind to what it connotes. When it was still a huge part of the white community it embodied blackness as “grotesque” in itself because it could never achieve the mythical ideal of whiteness.

Commercial advertisements were a huge thing back then and most of it belittled blackness to sell everything. The “best-known” Jet-black commercial icons were the Gold Dust Twins who appeared naked except for their trademark tutus and black makeup - they represented a popular brand of washing powder whose motto was “let the twins do your work.” Since the twins are “black” it makes it seem like slavery is a positive thing in the normal, everyday American household. In 1899 a children's book titled “The Story of Little Black Sambo” helped solidify the “derogatory caricature of dark-skinned children.” “Sambo” was a term used to describe black people during slavery, which soon became an insulting name for black communities. White actors in blackface were featured in D.W. Griffith’s rabidly racist silent film “The Birth of a Nation” - Hollywood's first blockbuster, released in 1915. The movie “valorized the Klan” and depicted African-Americans as “buffoons” and “incipient rapists”.

These events still carry on through the idea of white supremacy, though not very many people pay attention to it. On October 25, 2018, multiple members of a far-right group were arrested for violently attacking counter-protesters. A mother, Shirley Hardrix from Fort Wayne, spoke to police about how her son Samuel was stabbed to death by a white supremacist in 2016. Aaryn Snyder admitted to killing her son because he was black and said he received a patch from a “white organization” for doing so. In 2018 two white men beat a black man to death in a state prison dormitory in Putnamville, IN. Because of white supremacy, a black American is likely to get a 20% longer sentence for the same offense as a white American. These are horrific hate crimes that have happened because of white supremacy and because some people see it as justified to hate someone just because of their skin color.

Indiana officialized the hate crime bill on April 3, 2019. The Indiana hate crime bill is said to have covered bias-motivated crimes based on things like race, religion, sex, gender identity, and disability. Even though we passed the hate crime bill it has been said to be watered down and not very specific on what we are trying to accomplish. Despite having the hate crime bill going into place the rates for hate crimes are on the rise. According to the FBI report released in 2017, hate crimes increased by about 17% compared to 2016. In 2018, the FBI report revealed more than 7,000 hate crimes were reported in our country. Race and ethnicity made up about 59.6%, religion was 20.6%, and sexual orientation was around 15.8%. Of these, 50.7% of the offenders were white and 21.4% were African-American.

These incidents have been going on for hundreds of years, and the ideas and actions of segregation, hate crimes, and white supremacy have just continued to get worse. Still, nothing we have done to stop it or slow it down has worked. We have tried so hard and made many attempts to stop it but nothing seems to work. The way people are raising their children and the things they are saying to them and teaching them has affected the outcome of everything us as a nation has tried so very hard to stop. People read things and see things and then they get this idea in their head about how to think about a certain thing or person. Now, this obviously is not the case with every person; some people respect differences no matter the race, gender, religion, or anything else. The violent crimes and hatred among people of different races is all because hundreds of years ago these people put this idea - this stereotype - of how to treat or think of people with different skin colors. Is this really the world one should want to be living in?

That said, not all people think like this; there are really more people that think positively and see the good in everyone. But it is that small amount of people that refuse to see things that way that is making a huge impact on our communities. If we could learn to respect people, not for their skin color or their religion or themselves, our community would be much stronger than it is now. Right now, our nation is on the verge of breaking and we need to come together and fight for what is right. Not all people will agree with this but we need to be aware of what is going on in the world right now. We cannot just sit in our house and try to hide the truth about what the world has really become. Because at the end of the day, we are all human.

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