We don’t need to look further than the pages of this newspaper to see how racism still plagues this entire country. But we can.
Although this seems unnecessary in what is supposed to be a post-racial society — we elected President Barack Obama, didn’t we? — it is necessary after last year’s blackface incident and that recent case of racist and sexist catcalling.
Those are just two examples of not-so-isolated racist episodes happening on our campus.
Something has to be done. We can talk about it for starters. That’s always good. Even that doesn’t happen enough.
The real problem with racism, though, is that it’s ingrained everywhere, from TV shows with predominantly white casts to Congress. But those aren’t the only institutions infected by racism.
In New York City, home of the stop and frisk, a judge was kicked off a case regarding the issue by failing to uphold the “appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation,” according to the New York Times.
Apparently, Judge Shira Scheindlin was removed from the case because she exercised her First Amendment right to talk about the trial — and only to defend herself from accusations from being impartial. Not only was she removed, but her decision to reform stop and frisk has been temporarily held as well. So there goes the First and Fourth Amendments in one fell swoop.
I know what it’s like to have privilege. I am a white male, and I won’t even pretend to truly understand the oppression people of color face.
But I do know that in 2012, more than 284,000 black people were stopped by police officers without probable cause and searched, a violation of their constitutional rights. That’s five and a half times the number of white people stopped in a similar manner, according to data from the New York Civil Liberties Union.
But here’s the worst part: There’s no proof stop and frisk reduces crime at all, and even though crime has fallen in New York City since its implementation, other cities like Los Angeles and New Orleans had greater reduction in crime without relying on the policy.
We don’t live in a post-racial society. Many claim we do, often citing Obama’s presidency as proof. It is fantastic that we elected a black man as our commander in chief. It is an important step. Don’t forget that after he took office, multiple high-profile white people — not to mention ordinary citizens — were quick to demand Obama’s birth certificate, not believing he was American because of his race.
Institutional racism on this scale affects every aspect of people’s lives.
An American Economic Review study found that job applicants with black-sounding names received 50 percent fewer callbacks than applicants with white-sounding names. Since 1954, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began consistently keeping unemployment data by race, the unemployment rate for black people has averaged 2.2 times that of white people.
My goal here is not to demonize white people or start some kind white-guilt conquest. It’s just that we, as a country, don’t talk about this. Conversations start change.
These numbers are appalling. Many people can’t fathom discrimination on this level, but it is the reality of our society. And there’s strength in numbers. The more equal everyone is, the greater our achievements as a country will be. It’s time to shed the false consciousness and realize we really are one nation, indivisible, united for justice for all.
Justin Jones is a journalism senior. His column appears on Thursdays. A version of this column ran on page 6 on 11/7/2013 under the headline "Racism is still a pervasive problem"