Ever wondered who exactly were behind the horrific masks of the KKK? Believe it or not, various former presidents, politicians, and police officers were and are proud members, from 33rd president Harry S. Truman (1972) to Sen. Robert Byrd (2010) to Officer James Elkins (present). Yet, it is a popular thought that the United States is progressive– and although we have made remarkable reforms, we the people need to remember the difference between what to expect and what to accept. We need to compare ourselves to the future– not the past. We need to understand that conditional freedom for some cannot be tolerated, although it is the harsh reality for many minorities. No matter how many technological, cultural, or social advancements this country makes, it is still clear that white supremacy is the platform in which the biases play in U.S. policing and administration.
We live in a country where black men, such as Eric Garner, can be murdered by police officers on film, while resisting arrest and being unarmed, and receive absolutely no justice. Or 12 year old black boys like Tamir Rice can be murdered by a police officer, due to racial profiling, and also be filmed and receive no justice. Yet, white boys like Dylann Roof can open fire against church members due to their race, murdering nine, respectfully be detained by police, be labeled as mentally ill, and to this day await a hearing on whether he should be tried by the federal government or not, with his state trial planned for January 2017.
When the KKK formed shortly after the Civil War, one of their first orders were to infiltrate the police department in order to sustain white supremacy. Even after black Americans were finally introduced into law enforcement in the 1940’s, they were not allowed to arrest white people. Connections between law enforcement and the KKK are still prevalent to present day. Paul Tanaka, former undersheriff of Los Angeles, admitted to having the tattoo of “neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang” Lynwood Vikings, stated by a federal judge in 2013. He resigned and is now the mayor of Gardena, also located in Los Angeles.
Statistically, white men disproportionately outnumber all other groups in positions of power. Taking a look at our judicial system, The American Bar Association demonstrates that as of 2015, 65.6 percent of lawyers are male and 88.7 percent are white in the United States. Lawyers interpret laws and defend cases of all kinds. Without representation of all races and ethnicities, bias is sure to hinder justice being served for all. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals that of local police officers, ethnic minorities only represent 27 percent and hundreds of police departments across the nation have 30 percent more white officials then compared to the communities they serve. Lack of diversity in our police may be the underlying reason for the constant racial profiling fatally affecting America’s black men. With consideration of this country’s extremely racist and sexist history, white men have always been encouraged to be leaders, while minorities were conditioned to believe the opposite in themselves. So with the historic pattern of white men being superior, it’s evident bias and prejudice will emerge once racial minorities and women begin to enter the workforce/education system.
Even when minorities do succeed economically, the government is adamant to destroy them in order to spur the success of white Americans. Tulsa, also known as the Black Wall Street, was the wealthiest black community in the United States. It is well-known that government officials as well as the KKK were responsible for the 1921 aerial bombing of the town, leaving thousands of black families dead or homeless. This bombing was one of many during America’s “racial cleansing” in the early 1900’s conducted by none other than the U.S. government. The atrocity happening in Flint, Michigan, a majority black city, suspiciously resembles the horrors of the 1900’s. City officials switched the water source to the same water plant the formerly successful city sent their waste to, causing exposure to lead. Governor Snyder was well aware of this issue yet allowed the contamination to happen in order to cut costs and give the rich larger tax breaks. City officials were more concerned with company General Motors using the contaminated water on the vehicles and allowed a $400,000 switch to Lake Huron water. Evidently, no matter what level or form of government, it’s clear black lives are targeted and spared in order for white Americans to profit.
It may seem unreasonable to deem America’s government as racist when our 44th president, Barack Obama, is African American himself. This a recognizable historic achievement…that only took 219 years to achieve, leading to a whopping 2.3 percent of presidents NOT being white men. Our government system’s various branches restrict any one branch from gaining too much control, so Obama’s presidency, while influential and empowering, does not single-handedly solve or disintegrate racism in America. Now, let’s go through our branches of government: the 114th congress, made up of the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, is 80.3 percent male and 86.8 percent white, Obama’s 2012 cabinet members were 45.5 percent white male, and the U.S. Supreme Court Justice is 55.6 percent white male. Essentially, our lawmakers, our executives, and our law evaluators are majority white male; even of our 50 governors, 96 percent are white and 88 percent are male. So, again, while Obama’s presidency is memorable and of historic significance, it doesn’t change the fact that this country is, in essence, run by white men.
Our white biased government is capitalizing and benefiting at the cost of minorities’ lives. The continuous murder of black communities, the unjust incarceration of black and latino men, the criminalization and demonization of black and latino communities, and the supply of weapons and drugs to gang-affiliated areas are all fixed moves by the government to keep minorities from threatening their power. How to fight against this you ask? With the most powerful, lethal weapon of all, so powerful it’s the one weapon they aren’t exposing us to–education.