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Racism: Are we doing all we can?
Nikolas Intzesiloglou, Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Hove
On the 13th of April 2023 African American Ralph Yarl was shot twice by an 84 year old white male in the state of Missouri. An unsuspecting and carefree Ralph Yarl went to an address to pick up his younger brothers. After ringing the doorbell of a wrong address, Ralph was greeted by a “couple of bullets instead of a hug from his siblings” according to his mother, Cleo Nagbe.
A vulnerable and worried 84 year old Andrew Lester thought that Ralph Yarl was attempting to break into his home. Whether or not the offence was racially motivated remains to be established. This is happening in the same country that said no to racism 55 years ago.
Following the abolishment of the Jim Crow laws in the racist southern states in 1968, racism in America has since been illegal. But was this change of laws enough to change the hearts of those who believed in white supremacy?
Progress towards racial equality has been steady but perhaps too slow. It took almost 50 years for the US to elect, in 2017, its first coloured President, Barack Obama, and most recently, the Vice President Kamala Harris.
It is hard to ignore the fact that, for every step towards ending racism there are countless shootings or racist slurs countering it. Over 3,900 crimes against African Americans were committed in 2021 alone; proving that the long battle against racism in the US is far from over. The fact that these tragic events happen in the modern day begs the question of what has truly become of racism in the US. As a result, protests and movements like the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement have united people of all colours across the world who feel the urgency to shout ‘enough’.
But is talking and protesting enough? Or could it be that this necessary but easy reaction hides the harder personal effort needed to actively accept and respect the other, no matter their characteristics, origin and colour? People are right to publicly let the offenders know that any sort of inequality is unacceptable especially when it leads to the loss of life. But before we get to the streets, let’s ask ourself if we are doing all we can. If we can be more tolerant, more humane and more thoughtful in our home, when we watch TV and mindlessly share insensitive comments, at school when interacting with students and teachers of colour and at work with colleagues, on the street too. Let’s take extra care to actively demonstrate our acceptance for the other. It may be what adds more meaning to the protests and the way to ultimately become less suspicious, less ignorant and more responsible for our thoughts, behaviour and actions.
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