THE POHOTTUWA GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA Part 2 C3
Posted on November 9th, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The most significant fault line in USA, however, is not any of these. It is the racism shown to the African American.  When the African slaves were released from their cotton plantations in 1865, instead of freedom, the former slaves, found themselves less safe. Slavery was replaced by organized terror. Negroes were killed by   anti –black organizations, like Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

 KKK was a white supremacist hate group whose primary targets are Americans. It was active in the south between 1860-1870. There was a second wave of KKK starting in 1915 and peaking in 1920. This is its best known period.  The KKS is still around. It has not disappeared completely. Researchers found   in 2016 that there are just over 30 active Klan groups in the US, plus an unknown number of associates and supporters.

There was also systemic racism,” operating through segregation laws. Systemic means spread throughout the system.  Segregation by colour was legal in the US.  This means that it is not only South Africa that had apartheid against the African Negro. USA also had similar laws.

There was segregation in schools, public transport, public places, restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains. The separate facilities for African Americans were inferior. Sometimes, there were no facilities at all for them.

In 1954, segregation of state- schools  was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education  But states  took many years to implement this decision. The segregation laws were finally removed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

 However, in 2018, on the 50th anniversary, of the assassination of Martin Luther King, it was found that things had not changed. Schools are still racially segregated, poverty is greater among the blacks, home ownership is still less than whites said the media.  The racism became more   systemic, not less. There is systemic racism across every institution in America, said analysts in 2020.

Communities are racially segregated, in the USA, TIME observed in 2018. In Chicago the Polish, Greek, Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, are set close to each other, but they do not speak to each other, said TIME in2018. Racism extends to Puerto Rican and Korean immigrants and the Hmong refugees from Lao.

In the first quarter of 2020, 74% of white people owned their homes, only 44 % blacks did. Black Americans trying to buy homes are denied mortgages, or are given them at higher rates.  Federal mortgage schemes helped whites to buy houses, but not blacks. They said that the presence of a black resident in the neighborhood reduced the value of the home. Black Americans live in less prosperous areas. Hurricane flooding affects black neighborhoods more.

If you were not white you could not get a well paying job.  A study showed they called for interview those with white sounding names. Black Americans were left toiling into old age or were forced onto the streets.

Unemployment is higher among black than whites. Black Americans are more likely to be unemployed, and those with jobs earn less than their white peers. Even if a black or brown person earns a college degree she will still lag behind a white American with the same degree.

Health wise, Black children lack nutrition, so they are prone to health ailments.   Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth. Covid 19 killed more blacks than whites in USA. 53% were  black. 

Schools are not totally integrated in the USA, TIME observed in 2018.  The best schools are for whites only. Black children are more likely to be in  schools which lack resources.  In integrated schools, there are different punishments in school for black and brown children. Only 7% of primary school teachers in USA are Black.

Black voters face difficulties  in  voting at general election.   Laws are designed to keep them from exercising voting rights,    also they are disenfranchised due to felony convictions. 

There are strict requirements for voter ID s which act against Blacks and younger voters. Voters have to have street addresses, not PO boxes.  There are Voter roll purges, discrepancies of name, or how recently they last voted. Also  felony records. Reduction of voting hours,  last minute changes  of voting locations,  disproportionately target those of color. Black voters   are given false information before the general election about when, and how to vote.

There is a racist bias in policing, sentencing and rates of incarcerations said TIME. Black residents were about nine times more likely than whites to be arrested for low level offenses. Blacks were thrown in prison for decades for say cocaine, when a white was not. Black prisoners outnumber white prisoners. Sentencing has torn apart families and left black children to grow up in single parent homes.

Police spoke less respectfully to black drivers than white, said TIME. They are faster to shoot black people with guns than white people with guns. They shot black people even when they were not using guns. CNN reported in  August 2020 that two Wisconsin police officers  had shot a Black man multiple times in the back as he entered  his car. The man’s three children, 3, 5 and 8 years old, were in the car .

In the case of the death of George Floyd, the world saw the police officer casually kneeling on the victim’s neck. Neck restraint  is permitted in Minneapolis and Minneapolis police have used this at least 44 times. In 3/5 of these cases they were black.

When more than 140 cities exploded after Floyd killing, police used tear gas and rubber bullets. Those who protested over the Floyd killing were arrested. Most we black. Arrests involve costly fines, loss of employment, and a stigma which could affect  the ability to obtain housing, jobs, education and occupational licenses.

 National surveys have shown that 60-80% of private institutions and 55% of public institutions require prospective students to answer on their criminal record. This is also biased towards black people.

Criminal history questions appear in the majority of undergrad applications. Even minor cases do not disappear from criminal records. It is very difficult to get a record expunged also many states only allow one expungement in a life time. Arrests can be easily discovered and it affects employment.

Sri Lankans visiting US have observed this   racism. Wiswa Warnapala  observed that on our way to Canada,  in the 1970s,our car at a gas station in Chicago was the last to be served. Such minor incidents were plenty, he said.

Jehan Perera said, in the 1980s, when I was a student in the US, the black-white divide persisted , despite the laws and affirmative action policies. This was most evident in the freshman dining hall for first year students. There was a series of long dining tables in the hall where students could sit wherever they pleased. But it soon became evident that there were a row of tables on a side towards the back where only African American students would sit. 

Malinda Seneviratne (b. 1965) said, I spent around seven years, total, in the USA. I have seen racism. I have spoken to victims of the racists every day in the USA.  Racism is  a serious  issue in the USA. It is  several centuries long.  It is, was and is likely to remain a problem. ( Continued)

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