In light of the recent controversial police killings of unarmed black men, a new study has been released proving that black and Latino men are no more likely to be involved with violent police encounters than their white counterparts.
Published in the BMJ journal Injury Prevention, this study shows that police officers do not discriminate by race or ethnicity, and that they are just as likely to pull their gun on an unarmed black person as they are a white person.
But the study does show that despite these claims, Latino and black men are more likely to be pulled over for criminal activity and questioned by the police. The Los Angeles Times explains,
“The excess per-capita death rate of blacks from U.S. police action rightly concerns policy analysts, advocates and the press,” But, for blacks and Latinos who suspect they are subject to harsher treatment, they added, “the excess appears to reflect exposure” to police, not more violent police tactics during encounters.
These violent encounters have even been noticed by foreign officials visiting the United States. United Nations official, Maina Kiai, spent 17 days traveling around the nation promoting and seeking peace. Unfortunately he was exposed to the mounting racial tensions that can be seen in every state, amid inequality and ideological polarization.
Kiai is a Kenyan human rights lawyer and is serving his second term as the United Nation’s special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. His trip was influenced by the failing of our nation’s Constitution, which guarantees inalienable human rights, to live up to the U.N.’s standard of equality under law.
After his trip, Kiai published a statement summarizing everything he noticed within the past two and a half weeks. In his introduction, he explains that the U.S. is very much the product of its past, citing mistreatment of the Native Americans, slavery, segregation, and exploitation of international immigrants.
Based on that history, Kiai writes that it is impossible to discuss moving forward without thinking of the past. The Washington Post reports that he witnessed a string of systematic oppression against African-Americans writing,
“This issue is particularly grave in the African-American community, and understanding its context means looking back at 400 years of slavery. It also means looking at the emergence of the Jim Crow laws that destroyed the achievements of the Reconstruction Era, which emerged at the end of slavery in 1865, and enforced segregation and marginalized the African-American community to a life of misery, poverty and persecution.
It means looking at what happened after Jim Crow laws were dismantled, when old philosophies of exclusion and discrimination were reborn, cloaked in new and euphemistic terms. These may have not been race-based on their face, but they have, intentionally or not, disproportionately targeted African-Americans and other minorities.”
The nation’s “War on Drugs” is a perfect example. Minorities are the most affected as one in 15 black men is currently in jail. In addition, one in every 13 African-Americans has lost their right to vote due to a felony conviction.
Pls, every day, 100 people die of a drug overdose, a rate that has tripled over the past 20 years.
African-Americans are even being systematically oppressed when it comes to business ventures. Marijuana legalization has been a hot topic within the past few years in the United States, but black Americans are experiencing racial disparities in the cultivation, distribution, and sale of the medicinal drug.
In total, about 3 million patients visit an urgent care center each week in the United States. For some, their pain can be easily managed through using medical marijuana, a measure over half of all states have legalized.
Federal regulations state that if someone has been convicted of a marijuana offense, then they are not able to have access to the industry, a problem many minorities face, as marijuana use has been on the rise in their communities.
Of the 3,000 medical marijuana dispensaries nationwide, less than three dozen are owned by an African-American.
So where does this leave the African-American communities all over the nation? Activists, economic experts, and politicians are calling for economic empowerment, a crackdown on police violence, communication between ethnic groups, and personal accountability.
As Kiai puts it, it starts with us.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is simply a reaffirmation that black lives do in fact matter, in the face of a structure that systematically devalues and destroys them, stretching back hundreds of years. It is not about granting African-Americans special status or privilege. It is about a historically and continuously targeted community seeking to elevate itself to the same level that everyone else enjoys.”
Photo: Copyright Guyinnairobi photos