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Week 2 Homework

How discrimination was normalized

“It is not necessary that you believe that the officer who choked Eric Garner set out that day to destroy a body. All you need to understand is that the officer carries with him the power of the American state and the weight of an American legacy, and they necessitate that of the bodies destroyed every year, some wild and disproportionate number of them will be black.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates

After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 abolished slavery, newly freed slaves were afforded partial liberties. Explore this website to learn about how freedom was granted in such a way to ensure that African-Americans remained second-class citizens.

Racism did not end with the emancipation of slaves. So when did it end? When people think of racism, usually they imagine overt discrimination at the personal level, involving the use of pejorative language such as racial slurs, or outright violence, like that of the Holocaust or KKK lynchings. However, racism is a power dynamic, and while most people in our society may not be individually racist, they are part of a greater system that clearly benefits certain groups (whites, cis-gender men, able-bodied people, heterosexuals, etc.). This is institutionalized racism.

Institutionalized racism political cartoon
In our recent history, post civil rights movement, we still see racism creeping into our laws, granting freedoms to certain communities and making equality impossible for others.
Redlining our communities (6:19), discriminatory lending, drug policies (5:54), voter restrictions, the school to prison pipeline (16 minutes), and even our 2nd amendment rights, can all be traced back to bigoted beginnings, and have been fueled by ongoing white-supremacy. Medical trials have disproportionately been developed on minority populations with the protections of the law, causing many communities to distrust healthcare workers to this day. What discriminatory laws have you noticed? Are there policies at play at the local level that prevent equal participation of all communities in the civic engagement process?

In class, we will be talking about native american rights to land, and how language barriers, cultural differences, mishandling of information, and racist policies have been used to purposefully steal land from native tribes and deny them the benefits from the exploitation of the land. Watch The Story of Alaska Natives’ Fight for Their Land (10:43) regarding Alaskan natives to better understand the situation. Does this seem right to you? What can be done to fix this problem, and how can we help create necessary change?

For further information:

Want to know more about discriminatory laws? Watch the documentary 13th. This talks about the 13th amendment, which makes slavery unconstitutional, with the exception of incarcerated criminals. This loophole led to a spike in the criminalization of black people.

Also read “How To Make A Slave” by Willie Lynch.