The outrage and protests over the senseless killing of George Floyd along with the brutality and unsensitivity often shown by the police against black men have caused the general public to stop and consider racism as a serious issue in this country. It has been a problem for many, many years. Overcoming racism will not be easy, but it is a worthy goal.
Thirty years have passed since Rodney King was beaten by the police in Los Angeles. The treatment was caught on camera and shown to the nation. This caused outrage at the time, which resulted in rioting in Los Angeles for many days. The violence, looting, and deaths which resulted did not help with the message that black men were being treated unfairly by the police, but the public knew the reason. The white police officers who were involved were acquitted although a civil trial later found two of them guilty. Not much changed.
Colin Kaerpernick chose to try to bring the issue of police brutality against black men to the forefront when he was a pro football quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. After being convinced to take a knee instead of sitting down during the National Anthem, he was joined by some other players in the protest. He was doing it not for himself but for the sake of black men throughout the nation. He was criticized severely, and he was rewarded by losing his job and his career. Nothing much else changed.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife walked out of a pro football game in Indianapolis when several players knelt during the National Anthem. He was sending his own message that they were not respected. They were accused of being disrespectful of the American flag or the military. That was not the case. The protests which were intended to bring attention to the problem of racism in America fell on deaf ears.
Finally after the tragic killing of George Floyd and pressure from a number of black pro football players, the NFL made a statement that they are against racism and that Black Lives Matter. These players have obviously “made it” but are concerned for other black men who are not given a chance. No mention was made by the NFL about Colin Kaerpernick and the fact that he had tried to bring up the issue years earlier by taking a knee. The NFL had the platform to help bring about change, but they chose not to listen and punished Kaerpernick instead.
Asian Americans and other ethnic minorities have also faced racism and discrimination. Racism and hatred of people different than the majority were major reasons that Japanese Americans were unjustly incarcerated in camps during World War II. Racism is the reason that Vincent Chin, a Chinese American young man about to be married, was brutally beaten to death by unemployed autoworkers in Detroit. Asian Americans are again facing hatred by racist people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Asian American groups are in solidarity with blacks in the fight against racism in America. Mostly white people seem to be in many of the protests against racism being held throughout the country. It is time for change.
Many African Americans have achieved great successes. They have overcome the problems of racism and discrimination. They were given the chance to succeed. They took on the challenge and succeeded.
Racism is a major reason for many people to be held back from success. If racism is eradicated, more black people will have a better chance at success. If black young men are not faced with racism at every turn, it will be easier for them to believe in themselves and to overcome difficulties facing them.
It is time for successful people of all races to give back and be willing to help others. Some of the richest people among us are doing that by providing money, scholarships, and support. It is gratifying to see and can have far reaching benefits if all people are given a fair chance in life to succeed no matter the color of their skin. Overcoming racism will cause a large group of people to be given a more equitable chance at success.
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by Irene Mori