Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, and the principle behind racism in America is to distinguish the white race as superior to all other races. Sadly, Despite Thomas Jefferson’s “immortal statement” that “all men are created equal,” America was founded on racism and it is beyond refute it is still a country steeped in white supremacy. It is true the nation has made progress from its beginnings when African Americans were considered 3/5ths of a human being, Native Americans were slaughtered, Christianized, and herded on to reservations, and Hispanics were regarded as expendable cheap labor, but America is still racist.
What is stunning, really, is that despite the Civil Rights movement and laws providing people of color with the same rights as white people, the government has done precious little to monitor racial disparities in great part due to racists in the conservative movement. Fortunately for people of color in this country, where their own government has failed them, the United Nations is investigating America’s record on race.
The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had begun a review of the United State’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICEAFRD) even before the recent racially-motivated killing in Ferguson Missouri. ICEAFRD is the world’s leading anti-discrimination legal instrument America ratified 20 years ago, and events over the past two years have put America’s despicable racism record under the international organization’s spotlight once again. The U.N. Human Rights Commission has already condemned this country for its deliberate mistreatment of the poor, homeless, and infirm with the latest criticism targeting Michigan Republicans for cutting off water and sanitation to Detroit residents; a monumental human rights violation.
The committee is focusing its investigation on why there is a huge gap between the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution on the one hand, and the “reality of persistent racism that continues to plague American society on the other.” The recent events in Ferguson could not possibly have made the U.N. investigation more prescient, and it further elucidated to the international community that this country is steeped in racism targeting all people of color, but primarily African Americans.
Many Americans are appalled by the unwarranted murders of unarmed Black teens and young men, or the images of war machines confronting peaceful African American protestors, but the travesty has caught the world’s attention and the U.N. wants to know why this is happening. The Committee is reviewing several areas where people of color are being disenfranchised, particularly by local government edict, and it is yet another black mark on this nation that it is left, once again, to an outside international organization to do what this country’s government should have done of its own accord.
The committee will review how America has dealt with several issues such as deaths on the Southern border, serious abuses plaguing unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, violence against minorities, poor education access for minority communities, and why there is a gross lack of implementation of the treaty at federal, state, and local levels. The U.N. is also investigating racial profiling, racial disparity in sentencing, racial disparity in capital punishment, minorities’ right to vote, discriminatory treatment of guest and undocumented migrant workers, predatory lending practices targeting minorities, and the lack of due process in Native American child custody proceedings.
The final report and recommendations will be released at the end of August, but it is doubtful that this country will do anything to comply with its own Constitution or obligations under the U.N. Conventions to which it is a signatory. The committee’s goal is to push America to start addressing the perpetual racial discrimination plaguing people of color and hopefully prevent one more unnecessary death; something that is NOT going to happen because white supremacy reigns supreme.
When the Committee met in Geneva this week, it heard from racial discrimination experts from all over the world, leading human rights advocates, a fairly large delegation of high-level U.S. government representatives, and more importantly, advocates and victims of human rights abuses borne of racism. The committee, like many Americans, were deeply concerned at the murder of Michael Brown and other unarmed African American men at the hands of racially-motivated law enforcement officials. They also heard testimony from Trayvon Martin’s mother and Jordan Davis’s father who both lost sons to overt racially-motivated violence not unlike a Ferguson police officer gunning down unarmed Michael Brown; a case the Committee expressed the deepest concern over. The American delegate tried to alleviate the Committee’s concern by informing them the Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s murder.
America was represented by a “high-level delegation” headed by Ambassador Keith Harper, the first Native American U.S. ambassador representing America at the U.N. Human Rights Council. Harper said, “The United States has made…visible progress that is reflected in the leadership of our society, but we recognize that we have much left to do. Issues covered by this Convention are of such fundamental and deep importance that we must continue to make progress. For this reason, we value the opportunity for dialogue with the Committee.” There is little doubt Harper is sincere, but it is suspicious that he said “we must continue to make progress” when the racism plaguing this country is being manifested and increasing at an alarming pace because of Republican machinations.
It is, after all, Republicans who are disenfranchising people of color’s right to vote, starving poor communities of education funding, demonizing immigrants, Hispanics, and African Americans, and their legislative arm the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is responsible for laws increasing racial disparity in sentencing and capital punishment of African Americans. It is true President Obama, the Department of Justice, Democrats in Congress and state houses are fighting to rein in the racists, but they have been unsuccessful in large part due to the conservative Supreme Court and Republican obstructionism because their base of support is inherently older, whiter, and racially-motivated; likely why they yearn to “take America back” to the nation’s racist founding.
It is a sad, sad, commentary indeed that a nation founded on racism over 238 years ago, fought a bloody Civil War, suffered through a bloody Civil Rights movement, and elected an African American man as President is being investigated by an international watchdog for its predilection to racism and civil and human rights violations against people of color. Of course, the mainstream media will never report that America’s racism is under investigation, or that there is even overwhelming racial disparity in this country. However, the American people are well-aware that racism is rampant, and instead of admitting there is a problem primarily stemming from white supremacists in the conservative movement, they refuse to openly acknowledge the problem. And why should they? When they are white, it is easier to ignore the simple fact that being African American or Latino in America means being a second-class citizen at the mercy of white supremacists in the conservative movement and law enforcement seeking out the next unarmed African American to gun down in cold blood. Fortunately, the United Nations, and the entire world, is not ignoring racist America any longer and they are watching and speaking out.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.