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.

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