Sunday, 7 December 2014

Inequality - Civil Rights

The Moment I Realised What It Means To Be A Minority

This is an article from the Huffington Post, posted on the 1st December by an American journalist named Nasir Fleming. In the article Fleming talks about the first moment he realised he was "different".

'I discovered that I was black in the third grade. No -- not really. I have always known that I had brown skin, but I did not start to realise what having brown or black skin represented in a social, economic and legal context until halfway through elementary school.'

He goes on to talk about several defining moments in his childhood where he felt singled out 

'During my younger years, I attended a predominantly white elementary school. In the third grade, after finishing our lesson about the Civil Rights Movement, my teacher stated, "If it weren't for Martin Luther King Jr., Nasir and [other student] would not be in this class with us today." I'm sure that my grade-school teacher did not mean any harm by this comment, but it was definitely shocking -- mainly because I did not recognise any major differences between my classmates and myself'

His feelings of inferiority are soon forgotten however, until the moment he realise that although his teachers told him that times have changed now, its not actually true. Fleming argues that although race is a social construct and does not scientifically exist, the concept of race still institutionally and socially outs people of colour at a disadvantage. Having witnessed certain recent events eg the killings of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and although its not mentioned the more recent unnecessary death of Eric Garner, unjust mass incarceration rates, enormous poverty gaps, de facto segregation of neighbourhoods and schools and lack of colour diversity amongst people in social, political and economic power, Fleming came to the harsh realisation that people of colour are not equal, nor will they ever be.

Fleming believes that the reason why people of colour will never be equal is because today's society is a society that has literally been constructed for white people to excel and succeed and that this is something that everyone should realise and accept, period. This critical view is not positive in fact Fleming ends the article in way that provides little hope for the future.

'I recommend that we just admit that we live in a society where race plays a role in our daily lives. Denying the idea of race will not make it go away. I recommend that all people, no matter what colour, self-reflect and question their understanding of race and how race affects them, whether in a positive or negative way. Once this self-reflection is complete and we recognise the injustices of this system, then we can better plan to make a change. Our "American experience" should not be minimised by the hue of our skin.'
Overall, the article highlights the issue of racial inequality as a relevant issue in modern day America, saying that contrary to popular belief recent events in America prove that there is still tension over civil rights.

Extreme Wealth Inequality

The article I found that outlined the extreme wealth inequality evident in the US had embedded this YouTube video that effectively demonstrates the differences between what Americans think is the case with the wealth distribution, what their ideal would be and what it actually is.

The video concludes with these echoing lines:

"We certainly don't have to go all the way to socialism to find something that is fair for hard-working Americans. We don't even have to achieve what most of us consider might be ideal. All we need to do is wake up and realise that the reality in this country is not at all what we think it is."

Looking through the comments of the video, on YouTube, it became quite evident to me that Americans, even after seeing the evidence right in front of them, are still adamant that becoming a 'millionaire' only requires knowledge, persistence and hard work. Despite the fact this video has told them otherwise. One comment that stuck out was from 'strangetamer' with only sixty-two likes, out of the sixteen million people that viewed the video.

"Your super hard work ethic doesn't scare the hyper-rich, in fact, they love you for it!...The harder you work the more you get screwed. Its the perfect system...they'll buy politicians who will be paid to tell you to that the American dream is just around the corner and you just have to work a little harder and get the right qualifications for a good job. They want you to succeed in the work force so they can steal your money in the form of dividends and profits."

This comment, understandably, sparked a whole new debate amongst the comment-ers. It's supposedly quite easy to earn money if you work hard enough for it and not just work hard.

"You know who that one percent is? Millionaires. There is nothing wrong with that. I want to be a millionaire one day, and I don't think 75% of my income should go to the fucking government. And btw, literally anyone with a good work ethic, and some creativity and intelligence can become a millionaire."

This comment-er seems to believe that it is ridiculously easy to become a millionaire in the United States, and he or she evidently embodies the type of person the video is aimed at - the completely disillusioned.

The article ends on this single note:

"Maybe we really do need a socialist revolution."

And maybe they do.

Sources: &

Wealth Inequality in America

This video published in 2012 caught the attention of citizens all over the United States and social media, in regards to the state of inequality in America, concerning wealth and poverty. The video highlights the difference between the US and their perception of inequality considering the ‘ideal’ and the ‘real’ statistics. It is evident from the nineteenth century onwards there is a growing inequality of the rich and the poor that was accentuated by immigration, however, it is interesting to note the viewpoints of actual American’s. Even the publisher states – ‘The reality is often not what we think it is.’
It is hard to perceive the United States as a country who on the surface seem to be financially independent and they encourage the success of their own, in accordance with the American Dream. The comparison of the Great Depression and the recent recession in 2008 suggests how could America possibly reach this state of decay whereby its citizens are struggling. According to the statistics shown in the video, the average worker would have to work more than a month to earn what their CEO would earn within one hour. Consequently, eight out of ten people in America only have 7% of the country’s wealth, ranging from the poor to the highest of the middle class, bordering on the rich. Subsequently, 1% of the population have 40% of the all the nation’s wealth.
Hence, this video seems to position itself amongst those who believe socialist’s ideas, whereby everything and everybody should be equal. The commentator who addresses the citizens of America as ‘we’, implies he is an American too, yet demonstrates the distribution of wealth in America to highlight the disproportion.