OPINION / VIEWPOINT
America, it’s time to cleanse your own stains
Published: Apr 25, 2021 03:36 PM
Look, Uncle Sam is busy cleaning up its own mess on human rights problems. Does the US still think it's the beacon of human rights? Illustration: GT

Look, Uncle Sam is busy cleaning up its own mess on human rights problems. Does the US still think it's the beacon of human rights? Illustration: GT

Cheer of excitement and joy erupted from the crowds gathered outside the Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, when the judge read out the verdict from the jury, finding that Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd with his knees, was guilty of murder and manslaughter. Celebration was spreading all across the US among those calling for justice and respect for colored people. As Floyd's brother put it when he heard the announcement, "it is a day of victory." A victory, it might be. But against what?

It surely is a victory for the Floyd family as victim against offender. In a larger sense, it could be one first small step to address the unequal treatment and discrimination that the colored people in the US have been experiencing for centuries.

"America has a long history of systemic racism," admitted Vice President Harris when she addressed the public on the verdict. THIS IS TRUE. It is well known that the country itself was founded on slavery and genocide of native American minorities. From the Cape Coast Castle where African slaves stepped on the journey of no return, to the plantation in southern states of the US where millions of black people were turned to commodities and tools to harvest cotton for their masters, Floyd's forefathers might as well call out, "I can't breathe." Typical cowboy movies highlighted the heroism in the Westward Movement but hid the cruel fact that the population of the indigenous peoples dropped by 95 percent when native Americans were slaughtered in the name of civilization. Colored people were treated as "non-human."

The Emancipation Proclamation did not soothe the scar of racism. The notorious Ku Klux Klan raised the "white supremacy" to a new high, and racial segregation was legal and common practice in cities and towns for almost a century. The tricky and deceptive "separate but equal" doctrine stated by the US constitutional law only widened the gap between the white and the black. Systemic racism was legalized by this means. Although Rosa Parks pressed the button for Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr. brought much momentum to the protest for black people's human rights, yet the echo of King's famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was only brutally fainted by the gunfire that assassinated him later. Dr. King might have never dreamed that his black brothers still cannot breathe freely, much the same as his days when colored people were treated as "inferior-human."

The new millennium did not see any improvement of the human rights condition of minority people in the US. On the contrary, after the "9.11" attack, the Muslim groups were labeled as extremists or terrorists, and became target of hatred and persecution. This only brought more violence and discrimination against the Muslim communities. What's more astonishing was that former President Trump signed an executive order that banned foreign nationals from several Muslim countries from visiting the country. The US became the first country in the modern history to shut its doors to the Muslims. 

Things got even worse when the pandemic of COVID-19 coincided with the presidential election in 2020. Data indicates that African Americans were dying at a rate nearly two times higher than their share in national population. In some states the rate was even higher. When it comes to social care to cover the loss caused by the pandemic, or finding jobs to make ends meet, the African- or Latino-Americans were also the most vulnerable ones. No wonder the Floyd case caused such a rage all over the country. When police brutality overlaid with medical indifference and social deprivation of opportunities, it only brought the sad memory of racism that haunted every black American all the time. And the Asians, too, cannot lead a secured life and be treated equal as the white. Anti-Asian hate crimes are on an alarming rise. Yes, colored people in America today are still treated as "less-human."

Remember, all the aforementioned took place in a country that quote "all men are created equal" in its constitution. It is a country that boasts of its so-called deep-rooted ideal of democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality. But how can a self-portrayed perfect country become one full of chaos, division and inequality as we see today? Is it because the modern Americans have betrayed their founding fathers? Or most likely, the evil mentality of white supremacy or hierarchy, as well as the belief in "power has the final say" was there from the very beginning. Could this be called "the original sin?"

Now, the blinders are ripped off for the whole world to examine the systemic racism problem in America. The torch held by the Statute of Liberty only gets dimmer and dimmer. It will be curious to see the next time the US points fingers at others with its arrogance and conceit coming from nowhere, if "the stain on its nation's soul" will be evident.

The author is a current affairs commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn 


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