Racial Disparities: by Alyssa Winchester
One of the leading, profound inequalities in America falls upon our nation’s women, particularly those of color. Racial profiling, institutionalized racism, male chauvinism, and police brutality are pressing matters which have been long time minimized. Often times, the behavior gets swept under the rug due to a justification of long-term gender hierarchy, hegemony, and bigotry. We appear to be living in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance and society is doing a considerably outstanding job of proving police officers to always be virtuous protectors rather than potentially serious executioners of women’s violence. People skate through life in this blurry state of denial, which truly reflects their narrow scope of network, carrying this “Well if it is not affecting me, I do not care what happens to others around me.” type of attitude. We are a nation with the legal representation, yet still seem to lack quality legal support and assistance. Women and girls of color are being raped, invasive strip searched, sexually assaulted, and killed by law enforcement at shockingly high rates. Where are the deep thought-provoking, potentially uncomfortable conversations about this truth happening to our women and men of the minority? Why are there not more preventative actions being taken for the good of humanity? We are lacking moral integrity, consistency, and constancy, as British Author, Jane Austen calls it.
“There has been an alarming elevation of African-American and Latina women incarcerated due to ‘law and order’ agendas and ‘war on drugs’ policies occurring over the last two years increasing in intensity and frequency. The proliferation of mandatory arrest policies across the U.S. is leading to increasing in arrests of domestic violence survivors who are then subjected to further violence within our criminal justice system with forcible arrest, threats to remove children from their homes into state custody, abusive strip searches, and other humiliating conditions leading to their confinement.” No human being has the right to attack, become verbally abrasive, and physically abusive due to a rank of power they believe they have to uphold or because of twisted, racist mentalities. Inhumane abuse is being vindicated because of superiority complexes and a “justice” quota that some law enforcement believes needs to be served? How can anyone call themselves a “peace officer” or stand in a supposed respected position of our nation while committing and condoning these heinous acts of crime? Police are automatically suspecting that all people of color are involved in criminal behavior and are more likely to stop a person of color on the street, consequently meaning people of color are more likely to become victims of police brutality. All forms of injustice create a screaming narrative that there is something systematically wrong with the moral foundation of a society. We are submissively dismissing a major social problem.
Time and time again, the mainstream news and media will do its best to conceal the relentless gender-based violence happening to our women. Frankie Perkins was an African-American woman who was choked to death by Chicago police officers because they believed she had swallowed drugs. In 2002, D.C. police officers grabbed an African-American woman by the neck and smashed her face into a door and proceeded to force her to unzip her pants. After realizing that she was wearing men’s underpants, they berated her with comments questioning her sexuality and aggressively asking her “Do you eat pussy? Are you a dyke? Why are you wearing boys underwear?” An undocumented Latina woman, Ms. H, was sexually assaulted by a Los Angeles Police officer responding to a 911 call after she was being beaten by a different man in her home. In 1984, Eleanor Bumpurs was a disabled and elderly African-American grandmother, who was brutally murdered by shotgun wounds to her chest by police officers who came to help evict her from her public housing because she was ninety dollars behind in her rent. These are just a few of the countless stories that reveal this horrific devastation that is repeatedly ignored and disregarded.
“Communities of color are also disproportionately impacted by our criminal justice system because they represent over 70% of state and federal prisoners. There are more African-Americans behind bars now than there were enslaved. 60% of people in prison are African-American and it is evident our prison industry has become a more advanced slave trade of sorts.” It is barbarous and inexcusable to treat minorities as lesser on any matter, but especially those matters of race mistreatment. How can you expect only civil disobedience when people’s sociological well-beings are consistently being compromised and tested due to very evident inequalities? Law abiding people of color are being forced into feeling like criminals within their communities; where we are all supposed to feel safe and protected, with the natural-born right to live in peace, travel, work, and raise children. This brings more attention to an equally important problem of gender inequality, greed, and lack of true capitalism in our country. We must unify and critique all of these systems: homophobes, white supremacists, nationalists, imperialists; why are we losing sight of global humanity?
According to Joseph Stiglitz, a former chief economist of the World Bank and author of The Price of Inequality, “America is no longer the land of opportunity, inequality is far worse than we think. America has more inequality than any other country, with the least amount of equal opportunities politically, socially, and economically; although it is often times contrarily displayed.” A staggering 80 percent of all new income generated between 1980-2005 went to the richest 1% of people! The concept of the American dream is a complete myth; we live in a total division of class.
“Women’s experiences of police brutality, rather than stories of police protection, in the context of domestic violence interventions, implementation of mandatory arrest policies, and policing of racist, homophobic, and transphobic violent hate crimes, have not been generally addressed in service provisions or in challenging violence against women, people of color, or LBGT’s. Rather, there are organizations in place to provide special services to survivors of intimate violence, sexual assault, racist, homophobic, transphobic, violence that continue to rely on almost exclusively always law enforcement agencies as the primary, if not an exclusive response to interpersonal violence.” Women who are in prison are victims of staff sexual misconduct and over ¾ of the cases report male correctional staff. Prison has become a money-making system and its hold victims in an unhealthy cycle of our justice system, taking away and limiting future rights to work, creating restrictions on housing programs and taking away financial aid for college. This is a justice system? Why have we criminalized mental health problems instead of encouraging real change to happen within for the highest good of all?
Can we all agree on the fact that police officers are to presumably promote the obedience of laws safely and peacefully? Yes, there are and will be continual problems in our communities that need to be addressed. No place on this planet will ever be perfect, but the resolution to any issue that ever arises is never violence. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said during his Nobel Peace Prize Speech in Stockholm, Sweden in 1964, “ Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict, a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” Our nation has been deprived and lacking true compassion for all. The desperate need for the desire of unity and all beings to live harmoniously together in constant physical, emotional, and financial abundance. Police need to keep in mind that their actions and reactions are in plain sight to all communities and should always try their best to act ethically and principled. How can we trust their position and intentions when some are consistently perpetuating this cycle of violence? How can we respect their “positions” when there is not a common respect and equality being reciprocated?
The only way to create a fundamental transformation is to change the topic of conversation, gain some social momentum, then result in a substantial social movement. Learning and mastering the craft of discernment and collectively working together, distinguishing the major differences between acting and not reacting. Until we really challenge the foundation of our nation and the organizations designated to preventing and helping the victims of violence to deeply address these harsh realities around us, we will continue to live in this contradictory paradigm between unheard voices and women of color against the groups of violent police officers. I am very optimistic for positive change, as we are certainly on the precipice of a huge human awareness and consciousness shift from masculinity to femininity. People are on the rise of spreading positive light and love and teaching it to their children from young ages, and I am a firm advocate of this, also a victim of sexual and gender-based violence. No person is too broken or too damaged to become strong again, regain sight, and get in touch with their true purpose in life.
States Face Up To Realities Of Police Racial Profiling. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2017, from http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/1999/05/10/states-face-up-to-realities-of-police-racial-profiling
Andrea Ritchie (2006). Law enforcement violence against women of color. In INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (eds.) Color of violence: The INCITE! anthology. Cambridge: South End Press, 138-156.
A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2017, from http://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/a-guide-to-statistics-on-historical-trends-in-income-inequality
Featured Image of Sandra Bland taken from http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/local/69787642-story
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