George Floyd was only forty-six years old when he was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. What does this image — one of a black man being pushed down, unable to breathe, by a white man in a position of power — reflect about our country?
It reflects four-hundred years of African Americans being oppressed by white Americans through slavery, poverty and unfair treatment in the criminal justice system and the United States’ mixed economy.
Racism and oppression are not a new topic for people of color in the United States. The Stanford Open Policing Project found severe racial disparities in the number of colored drivers compared to the number of white drivers pulled over by the police. It was proven that bias not only plays a role in the number of colored drivers pulled over, but also in the number of colored drivers who’s vehicles are searched for contraband. The statistics aid the argument that America is a racist place.
According to Oxford Languages, racism is, “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” This definition accurately explains the systematic racism and discrimination minorities face daily in the U.S.
Though it is not widely acknowledged, there is more to racism than just committing hate crimes against a specific race or making discriminatory comments. Individual and systematic racism are two of the most common forms of racism as they are built entirely on prejudice.
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre explained individual racism is based on an individual’s “racist assumptions, beliefs, or behaviors” and is a form of racial discrimination that stems from “conscious and unconscious, personal prejudice.”
This type of racism is supported by systematic racism, which is the exclusion of certain groups by established institutions. They are often not viewed as racist because it is easy to discard the fact that society as a whole is, in fact, accepting of racist ideals. Also, individual racism is often treated as a personal opinion and is usually subconscious.
However, the education of the many types of racism will help to make all lives truly matter and to defeat prejudice and bias against others based on things they cannot control. Reading about the experiences of those who have dealt with inequality, listening when others talk about how discrimination has affected them and teaching future generations to disregard the idea of prejudice altogether are important steps to take to make this world a happy and equal place.