Racial Discrimination – Still Alive in Universities and Law Enforcement

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Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist's JimmyLung

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Human nature has more or less stayed unalterable when it comes to racial prejudice. We have more avenues of knowledge and more sources of information than ever before. But racial prejudice in USA absolutely refuses to go away. Even in universities that serve as bastions of learning and plurality, the overall picture isn’t pretty. Even our custodians of law play a little fast and loose when it comes to black people.

History is replete with examples of man’s inhumanity to man, and racial discrimination is right there as the most abhorrent of human vices. Who says slavery doesn’t exist in the modern age? Who says that the state protects disadvantaged communities from biased treatment from the majority, just because they were born with the ‘wrong’ physical characteristics?

It’s a sad state of affairs. It’s tough to hack it out in life as a member of the minority. Doesn’t even matter if it’s in the USA or Somalia. Human cruelty and depravity knows no limits no matter how developed or under-developed societies become.

One would’ve thought that the near-universal access to knowledge and information (aka the internet) might suddenly turn a corner in the long standing fight against racial prejudice and discrimination. One would’ve hoped that with Harper Lee in the news again, people might remember the powerful moral center of her award-winning novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. But since there is a huge dearth of Atticus Finch-types in the 21st century, racial discrimination is here to stay. It’s alive and growing at an exponential rate, despite the efforts of family lawyers and social justice attorneys across the globe, as these outrageous statistics will show you:

Black Women

In UK, only 85 of 18,500 professors are black with a mere 17 of them black women.

School of Law are Black

Did you know that only 33 out of 1,100 students at UCLA’s School of Law are black?

Racial Grounds in the USA

1 in 4 students belonging to a minority group have been personally discriminated on racial grounds in the USA

Even that bastion of liberty and opportunity; that is America, can’t shed its image as the land that had and continues to have a most discriminatory attitude between its minorities. It has been home to racially prejudiced attitudes for most of its history i.e. internment camps in WW2, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and so on. Even with a black President at the helm of affairs, the reality on ground continues to shock.

Racism in Law Enforcement

“To serve and to protect” – These are lofty words that every American law enforcement officer professes to uphold as their guiding ideals. The reality, as they say, is quite another thing altogether. Here are some cases that can shed some light on the existing ground realities.

The Michael Brown case aka #Ferguson

Michael Brown was unarmed when he was shot 6 times by a law enforcement officer. The hometown of Ferguson soon erupted with anger, with clashes between police and Ferguson citizens becoming the order of the day for a few months. For a place where 67 percent of the total population is African-American, it is hair-raising to note that the police force at Ferguson employs only 3 black employees. That’s 3 employees in the 53-man strong Ferguson police force. Pretty skewed right?

The Trayvon Martin case aka #RIPTrayvonMartin

Now let’s take the case of Trayvon Martin, a black unarmed male who was mercilessly gunned down on his way home. In Feb 2012, he was murdered by a white male on the technicality of being a ‘night watch’. Consider what the outcry would have been if the perpetuator of this atrocity was someone other than a white Caucasian male. If it wasn’t for social media, things would’ve probably ended right there. Justice would’ve never been served.

The court previously ruled that Zimmerman was not guilty. A wave of social media protests followed with Martin’s parents creating an online petition. Many celebrities such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Diddy and Amber Rose amongst many others supported the Change.org petition. They expressed their disgust at the ruling that made George Zimmerman walk away free. They galvanized the fans and kept the case in the public consciousness. A few months later Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder and promptly arrested.

Though these incidents are related to the abuse of the law by law enforcers, the whole affair isn’t too far removed from what black students and teachers face in academic circles. They are bullied, picked on and in the case of teachers, regularly passed over for promotions. Not even Hispanics, Arabs, Asians and other minority communities are spared when it comes to discrimination.

Racism in Education

Black British Academics, an advocacy group that tracks racial discrimination in UK universities, recently unveiled the results of their Race Equality Survey. The educational survey compiled information from higher education staff and students from black families, painting a picture of how endemic racial discrimination is in universities.

About 60 percent of those surveyed felt that they had been discriminated against, in one capacity or another. 73 percent of those went on to say that their institutions didn’t adhere to racial equality. Even those in on the teaching side said that they were meted out ‘differential treatment’ and being ‘cold shouldered’ behind ‘closed doors’. Apparently black academia is the last to know of promotions and other departmental developments.

Black students also have to hear racist jokes and false generalizations about how they are assumed to be muggers, rioters, small-witted and other stereotypical elements. The psychological and social ramifications of such behavior tend to stay for the rest of their lives.

The 33 Incident

The UCLA School of Law has only 33 black students out of 1,100, a fact that became the subject behind a student-produced video titled ‘33’. After the circulation of the video, some of the black students started to receive racially-motivated threats soon after.

The video showed some of the students of color speaking of their experiences of being marginalized and being watched everywhere.

Caption: When being a minority in a place of learning is too much

Role of Social Media in Racism

Last but not the least; we have the #ICantBreathe Twitter campaign. The #ICantBreathe campaign was born when a black teen was choked to death by a police officer, the whole incident captured by police cams. The subsequent outcry that followed was extensively highlighted in social media. This campaign went on to show how permeating and deep-rooted the practice of racial profiling has become in American cities and towns. Many people highlighted the high-handedness of law-enforcement officials when it came to black people. Even when caught on camera, the attitude of the police officers reeked of arrogance.

The hashtag campaign #ICantBreathe is one example of how social media is highlighting rights for legal protection and fighting back against the excesses of those who adopt double standards when it comes to people of color. Before it, #Ferguson demonstrated the power of social media, as it shook up the docile mass media into covering the story. It goes to show how hush hush things have been and how apathy also played a role in covering up atrocities.

Do you think that things can change for the better as the human race progresses? Can racial prejudice become a forgotten footnote of history with time? Sound off below.

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.