The Village

  • Fighting Racial Disparities

    Jul 22, 2013. Written by Ruthe McDonald

    Well before the verdict in the Zimmerman trial, African Americans have been all too aware of disparities in not just the judicial system, but also in healthcare, education, and employment. There is a vast difference in the way in which African Americans are looked upon and treated; especially those of a poorer socioeconomic status.

    I watched with many others as the verdict was being read and it was not a shock to me. He had a jury of his peers, which believed and persuaded others to believe that he was not guilty. The verdict rang through my ears, touching my soul, and deepened the ache that was already there. It is sad to even think that we have to teach our children to expect the possibility of such atrocities. That we would have to prepare our sons not only for the challenges they may face in this world as a male, but for the harm or injustices that may occur because of the color of their skin.

    When you are on the other side of the hue table; from the advantage point of not having to worry about your son being stopped, searched, profiled, or his very life taken—it is difficult, if not impossible to identify with the heart and continued concern and worry that plagues every black parent living with the truth; that because of the color of their skin, their child may not make it home.

    It is not just my imagination. Nor am I overreacting, as many have accused African Americans of doing. Racial disparity is a real problem that has affected the quality of life for African Americans. Especially the racial disparity that exists within the judicial system. It has systematically used laws that have handicapped African Americans in the fight to defend themselves and their families. In a nation where African Americans are but 13 percent of the total population, more than 60 percent of the incarcerated are minorities. One in 10 prisoners are black men in their thirties.

    It is at times unfathomable that in 2013, we must come together to protest the countless injustices that have befallen people of color, still. That, in order for the right and just thing to be done we must continue to fight vigorously. That, in 2013 we are still—in America—having to fight for racial equality and fight against racial disparities—disparities that have crippled our families, our communities, leave our children fatherless, and our sons filled with rage and bitterness.

    How would one feel if every day of your life you saw a distinct difference in the way in which you were treated? What if you constantly witnessed a change in attitude of teachers, employers,  proprietors, strangers in the street when you either walked pass, entered a room, or establishment; but quickly noted a different attitude when a Caucasian entered? What would that do to your soul, to your mind?  How would you respond to that day in and day out, every day of your life?

    This is what many of our children are experiencing each and every day of their lives. The impact upon their self-worth and view of the world and humanity becoming bleaker, as they fill with rage and anger, and strike out at each other, instead of at a system that has failed them, their parents, and their peers.

    Racial disparity is not uncommon to me, as I was exposed to it, and understood it at an early age. I recognized the lack of equality that was around me when it came to education. As I matured and continued in my studies, I also began to see the disparities in the judicial system. I quickly learned that justice is not necessarily blind. And for those of color, if you wanted the law to favor you, then you’d have to be in a position to change the laws, and be willing to fight for the long haul.

    We have an opportunity as a community to rise up and unite and make our voices be heard. Often times when we are victorious in one area, we get lulled by that victory and do not continue the fight with the same passion. There is a new day before us. We have been given an opportunity to rise up and fight for ourselves and for those who cannot fight.  What I know for sure is this: Trayvon Martin’s death is not in vain. His purpose in life carries on through his parents and for each and every person that will stand up and say, enough is enough. There are countless unnamed men and women that have suffered the same fate. There are those who are fighting now for their lives and their families. This is an opportunity to rise up in unity and in peace, and make our voices heard and our votes count.

    No longer can we be comfortable in our own successes, and turn a blind eye and deaf ear to those who continue to struggle. The fact that one has achieved a level of success and improved their socioeconomic status does not exempt one from the continued racial disparities that plague this nation. As long as the color of your skin remains the same, you will always be subject to the same disparities. For, most injustices and inequality is based upon what you look like, and not what you have or have achieved in this life. We only to look to the President for an example of this fact. Fight for yourself, for your family, and community. We can accomplish more together than we can alone.