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The New Age of Oppression

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    On April 30, 2014, Dontre Hamilton was fatally shot by a police officer for being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The officer was not charged. On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was put in an illegal chokehold by a police officer for selling loose cigarettes. The officer was not charged for the murder of Eric Garner. On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch coordinator for wearing a black hoodie, carrying an iced tea Arizona, and a bag of skittles. This assassination was the rekindling of a fire that previously was set aside by society for the past 50 years. The killing of 17 year old Trayvon Martin had the same effect on the black community as the incarceration of Rosa Parks did in 1955. Trayvon Martin’s death rekindled the Civil Rights Movement and it was realized that the fight for equality was not over. There is no change from 1955 to 2016. The problem of oppression was never solved. It was just swept under the rug. For 61 years, oppression has been hidden from the eyes of the media. The tactics have changed, but the concept is still the same. It has the same face, but is just wearing a different mask. American society has set up obstacles in different aspects of society like the job market, media, economy, politics, and social fears to pre-determine the fate of black people. This pre-determined fate is that black people are not able to reach the same success level of white people, and if they do it will be extremely harder. This observation was self-named the new age of oppression.

    In 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was the initial point of the Civil Rights Era. The boycott was sparked by a strongly willed woman named Rosa Parks that decided to sit at the front of the bus. She was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus at a time when the front of the bus was reserved for white people. This boycott was crucial because it lasted 381 days. This practically destroyed the Montgomery bus company by depleting them of almost all of their profit since no black person would ride the busses. This boycott also caused a ripple effect in the Civil Rights Era. Since Parks was arrested, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as the leader of the bus boycott, and in turn becoming one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Era. The movement also led to a new expansion of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in which King was the president. “On February 1, 1960, four freshmen at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College began a wave of student sit-ins designed to end segregation at southern lunch counters. These protests spread rapidly throughout the South and led to the founding, in April 1960, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)” ( By the summer of 1963, the Birmingham protests had become only one of many local protest insurgencies that culminated in the August 28, March on Washington, which attracted at least 200,000 participants. Although some whites reacted negatively to the spreading protests of 1963, King’s linkage of black militancy and idealism helped bring about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation outlawed segregation in public facilities and racial discrimination in employment and education. In addition to blacks, women, and other victims of discrimination benefited from the act. The definition of oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. During the Civil Rights Movement, black activist were fighting against oppression and white supremacy.

    People opposing this argument might say that it is there will be no progress made with this Black Lives Matter Movement and that racism doesn’t even exist anymore. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a movement in which black people have formed to fight violently and nonviolently against black oppression, and specifically in today’s society with police brutality. They will try to make you concede to the point in saying that all lives matter. Since the civil rights era in the 1960s, racism is not even a factor in the community. The Black community is only bringing all of the problems to the community and giving black people a bad reputation. An article written by Aaron Badler, lists seven facts about the black community that will prove that the black community is only bringing all of the bad stereotypes into the community. Balder reports that, ‘Data shows that 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks. Blacks committed 52 percent of homicides between 1980 and 2008, despite composing just 13 percent of the population. Across the same timeframe, whites committed 45 percent of homicides while composing 77% of the population, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In Chicago, IL, blacks committed 76 percent of all homicides, despite composing 35 percent of the city’s population. Blacks also accounted for 78 percent of all juvenile arrests'(Balder). That is only three of the facts that Aaron Balder proclaims that black people bring upon the black community. Aaron Balder also proclaims that, ‘there were almost 6,000 blacks killed by other blacks in 2015’. This shows that black people can not even try to use police brutality for the death of the black. Since race is not the reason, people begin to blame family by claiming, ‘As economist Thomas Sowell points out, before the 1960s ‘most black children were raised in two-parent families.’ In 2013, over 72 percent of blacks were born out of wedlock. In Cook County –which Chicago belongs to – 79 percent of blacks were born to single mothers in 2003, while only 15 percent of whites were born to single mothers’ (Balder). Even more so the reason why black people are being killed is because there are so many black people in jail. Aaron Balder proclaims that, ”Even allowing for the existence of discrimination in the criminal justice system, the higher rates of crime among black Americans cannot be denied,’ wrote James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein in their classic 1985 study, ‘Crime and Human Nature.’ ‘Every study of crime using official data shows blacks to be overrepresented among persons arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for street crimes’”(Balder). This was true decades before the author put it to paper, and it remains the case decades later. The reasons that black people are arrested for have been true and even increased throughout history making the problem worse when it is identified.

    American society uses the job market to put black people in the already determined position to not be as successful as white people. The corporate world is stereotyped for white people to be the standard for the way people should behave and dress. These stereotypes are disguised by the term “professional”. Being a person of color is a big disadvantage in the job market. Even if that colored person is educated. Jillian Berman, Associate Editor for the Huffington Post, did an article surrounded by the idea that the job market discriminates against educated black people. The 2013 unemployment rate for recent college graduates who are black was almost twice that of recent college grads overall, according to report released in May 13, 2014 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a left-leaning think tank that studies inequality and other economic issues. Jillian Berman found a research that proved a large part of this problem is job market discrimination. One study found that job applicants with “black sounding” names (researchers gave Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones as examples) were less likely to get called back for an interview than their counterparts with the same qualifications who had “white sounding” names (like Emily Walsh or Greg Baker). And some researchers have suggested that drug testing would improve the prospects of black job-seekers because hiring managers are more likely to assume they’ve used drugs and are less likely to discriminate when presented with actual evidence to the contrary. This study gives a prime example of black people being denied a job because of just their name sounding black. It is sad that racism has come so far to the point that managers don’t even have to see the applicants to know the color of their skin and determine from that they are not fit for the job. This has to raise questions surrounding how black people even survive in America. This is why there are statistic that show, “African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population. Also, African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites” (NAACP). The one of reasons for this is because black people are looking for ways to make money by selling drugs or stealing from stores. Statistics also show that, “African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession”(NAACP). So African American are going to jail for trying to prosper in a country illegally where they don’t want them to prosper legally. Thus, making drug busts and black on black violence shown in the news. It is to make people scared of black people and make them expect this from all blacks since it is in the news so much.

    The media is the newest way to get information in today’s society. Not only does it display forms of racism, it also promotes racism. It has been identified that stereotyping is one of the main contributing factor to racism. The media promotes racism by influencing the audience’s stereotypes on different groups of people. George Zimmerman, the officer that shot Trayvon Martin, can be seen as the first sign of this in the Black Lives Matter era of Civil Rights. ‘The circulated photos of Zimmerman online has also been edited extensively by the various media groups and on all of them he is supposed to look a little whiter, to give the create and reinforce the impression that the attacker is a white man’ (“Media & Racism”). This is even worse because of the media has edited the original picture of George Zimmerman to follow the same narrative that has been going on for decades. A “white” police officer shoots an unarmed black man. The media will always attempt to portray anything happening in society, so that it sparks a problem in the world they can keep writing about. This leads to more articles, videos, tv shows, and movies that will promote racism negatively toward the black community, thus pre-determining the mindset in which everyone should think when they see a black man or black woman. Now because of these stereotypes, it makes it harder for black people to achieve success as easily as white people can.

    American society uses the economy as a way to oppress the black community. The economy consists of an elite and everyone else. Race is a big deciding factor in who is in this elite group. The people who are in these elite groups are usually white and are in economic power. Researcher Justin Podur has shown that, ‘when white workers are suffering, people of colour offer convenient scapegoats for structural economic problems: overpopulation is to blame instead of corporate destruction of resources, immigration is to blame instead of deliberate technological unemployment’ (Berman). The reason ‘racist economics’ is so insidious is because it yields racist outcomes even if people are not particularly prejudiced. It is insidious because it makes it possible for a race riot decades ago to have an impact on people’s economic situations today. This will always come back to the history of the way this country was ‘founded’. The fact that wealth is passed from one generation to the next. This means that if, in previous generations, black people or native people had no wealth or had it stolen from them, they will have less now than whites. This cycle of poverty will not stop unless someone outside of the cycle interferes with it. If not then the poor will just stay poor and the rich will stay rich. This will only continue because very few black or native people have as much money than white people leaving them to be less than elite and essentially trying to become the norm or goal.

    American society uses politics to oppress the black community. The political system is opposing the black community not only in the nation’s capital but also the justice system. ‘Police have the arms and the training. They have the physical power. But their agenda is set by political elites (who are white) and their power is constrained by the fact that they need the community to obey them and respect their authority’ (Berman). They specifically want to control the black community in which to strike fear into the black community. They do not control the press nor do they raise money independently. It should be said, though, that both of these things are changing for the worse, with aggressive police unionism that mounts political campaigns and does raise funds. These are bad trends. Between the justice system and vigilantes, racism has the violence it needs to contain its victims. There will always be racism in politics because the justice system needs to have reason to put away black people. Racism will be a topic of discussion because it will never go away because there will always be a group of people that believe that black people are a cancer to American society.

    American society uses social fears to oppress the black community. This is mentally killing the black community. Some black people fear to be black because of racial prejudices and profiling. Editor Michael Balter wrote that, ‘in a 2005 paper in Science, New York University psychologist Elizabeth Phelps and her colleagues exposed black subjects and white subjects to pictures of both black and white faces, first in conjunction with a mild electric shock and then without the shock. Once the shock was gone, the volunteers’ fear reactions, as measured by electrical reactions in the skin, soon disappeared when exposed to pictures of their own race, but remained to a limited extent when exposed to pictures of the opposite race’ (“When Social Fears Disappear, So Does Racism”). This social experiment is one of many that display racial tensions and fears in the community. The social experiment allows people to see that these actions are not a coincidence. Even though this social experiment was taken in 2005, it are still apparent in 2017 With these social fears, the oppression becomes automatic. People let their stereotypes get in the way of seeing black people as people instead of a colored threat.

    In conclusion, American society has set up obstacles in different aspects of society like the job market, media, economy, politics, and social fears to pre-determine the fate of black people. This pre-determined fate is that black people are not able to reach the same success level of white people, and if they do it will be extremely harder. It’s been like this for so long. It’s just oppression all over again. Parts of the black and white community believe that there was a big step forward in civil rights when Barack Obama was elected president of the United States of America, but since the House of Representatives is mainly republican there is not much that he can do. The black community has to rise up through these stereotypes and statistics to change them. This will allow some type of room for ‘advancement’. It starts with education. Once the black community can take up all the opportunities for education and take advantage is when the country will see the true potential of black people not just rap and sports. If we take advantage of the education, then we end the new age of oppression.

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