Racism in America: Is there an end in sight?

Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrate inside the board of Police Commissioners meeting in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Los Angeles police released surveillance video Tuesday showing an 18-year-oldblack suspect running from police while holding what appears to be a gun in his left hand just before he was fatally shot by officers in a death that has generated rowdy protests. (Nick Ut/AP)

There is no denying the United States is rooted with a history of racist ideologies which have helped shape legislation in the forms of voting, healthcare, welfare policies and many others. While many people in the political elite tend to boast about how much progress this country has made since its racist beginnings, racism still remains a predominant factor influencing the lives of over 50 million people on a daily basis.

The 2016 election cycle has brought a newfound awareness to modern-day racism through the Trump campaign, which has prided itself in condoning bigotry and ostracizing blacks as criminals, Muslims as terrorists and Hispanics as illegal aliens. At least for the moderately-informed American, the issues of racial profiling and discrimination are explicitly understood.

The past few decades have seen new forms of discrimination, however. For example, there is backhanded legislation that has a tendency to incarcerate minority populations over white Americans. The infamous War on Drugs has been theorized to have direct relations to the desire to place people of minorities – specifically blacks and Hispanics – behind bars.

Beyond the aforementioned, inequality of opportunity, access to healthcare, wealth and income inequality and the distribution of affordable, viable housing all have traces of racial discrimination looming in the background. This all suggests that although racial discrimination in the form of physical segregation has theoretically ended, discrimination in the form of hidden policies that ostracize particular sectors of the population are ever-present. Perhaps the only real change has been the shift in American mentality from seeing color, to becoming “colorblind.”

For some reason, regardless of how much we empathize with individuals who have been on the receiving end of racial discrimination, we have lived with these facts of life for so long that we’ve started to become immune to it. We are no longer surprised when videos of police brutality show the perplexing beat-downs of innocent black Americans. We are no longer phased by the fact that Muslims are separately interrogated at airports due to the spelling of their last name. The only way to really see a possible end to racism in this country is to recognize it is a deeply-seeded issue with effects on not only the lives adolescence and adults, but also the lives of younger children across the country.

A recent report by the US Department of Education explores the fact that racial discrimination is prevalent in our preschools. The study shows that black preschool children are four-times as likely to be suspended as their white peers. Other statistics include the fact that black boys represent only 19 percent of the total male enrollment in preschools, yet they represent 45 percent of male children receiving suspensions.

According to a Yale study, the reason for such stark contrasts in the treatment of black (particularly male) preschool children goes beyond voluntary action. The study shows that teachers, regardless of whether they are white or black, exhibit the same tendency to view a specific behavior as aggressive or hostile when coming from a black child as opposed to a white child. This implies there is now an implicit bias engrained in the American people that tends to see blacks, regardless of their age, as exhibiting questionable behavior. This coincides with the fact that these black children are then given harsher punishments for their “threatening” behavior than they deserve. Their actions are placed under severe scrutiny from teachers, as they are expected to exhibit dangerous behavior.

To those Americans who wish to deny that there is racism in this country, I sincerely apologize for whatever circumstances have led you to be so severely misinformed. The racism we face now is far more dangerous than the racism of the past. Where before, it was obvious that a segment of the population was being targeted, it is now necessary to perform intense studies to notice the repetitive patterns of discrimination against minorities. The first step toward ending racism in this country is to recognize there is a problem, and then to acknowledge the vast extent of it. Without this understanding, there is no end in sight.

Gulrukh Haroon is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at gulrukh.haroon@uconn.edu.