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Shadow of racism looming over US

Sybrina Fulton (L) , the mother of Trayvon Martin who was killed by George Zimmerman, sits with her other son, Jahvaris Fulton, as they attend a service at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church for the first time since the arrest of Zimmerman on April 15.

Sybrina Fulton (L) , the mother of Trayvon Martin who was killed by George Zimmerman, sits with her other son, Jahvaris Fulton, as they attend a service at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church for the first time since the arrest of Zimmerman on April 15.
Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:38AM GMT
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BY Kourosh Ziabari
Racial discrimination as one of the worst forms of human rights violations has a long history in the United States. For decades, the nation has been grappling with racism and its consequences while the repercussions of prejudiced and discriminatory laws against the African Americans which became obsolete many years ago still can be felt in the States.


With the election of 51-year-old Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States, hopes were revived that bigotry and intolerance against the African Americans in the U.S. would discarded and a new era of well-being and safety would begin for the blacks. At any rate, few people could think of a black man becoming the highest political authority in the U.S. However, the agonizing death of the 17-year-old black boy Trayvon Martin who was shot dead by a community watch coordinator on February 26, 2012 in Sanford once again brought to light the shaky and unsteady living conditions of the African American community in the U.S.

You may take sides against me if I assert that racism and xenophobia has taken its roots deep in the popular culture of the United States, but of course the words of an informed source on this matter will be convincing enough so that you may accept it. Doudou Diène, a former United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, stated after making several visits to the U.S. that "racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society… The U.S. has made decisive progress; however, the historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life and American society."

So, the answer to the question that "is racism still alive in America" is positive.

But what has once again called to attention the unsafe and deteriorating situation of blacks in the U.S. was the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in early 2012. A Sanford court has charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder since he has claimed that he pulled the trigger on the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense after he attacked him in the premises of a private building at The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida. The circumstances of Martin's death, the initial verdict of the court that released him on bail last week and the racial profiling of Martin by Zimmerman who volunteered the race of the slain boy to the police officers without being asked to do so have all sparked widespread national protests in the United States. Several rallies were held in different cities of the U.S. to sympathize with the family of Trayvon Martin whom the killer accused of being intoxicated with drugs and attacking him impulsively. It's widely believed that Zimmerman killed Martin since he was racially motivated for this action which a number of independent media called a "hate crime." However, the mainstream media in the U.S. tried to appease the public opinion by implying that Zimmerman was not racially motivated and acted for self-defense.

However, this is not the first time that such a suspicious incident takes place in the United States. We regularly see heartrending footages of the U.S. police officers violently attacking and beating young black boys in the streets without any charges. Hate crime and racial profiling are still prevalent in the U.S. while being officially reprimanded. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to be safe from unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause and the Fourteenth Amendment implicates that all citizens should be treated equally under the law; however, such cases as the murder of Martin and other cases of persecuting blacks and violating their rights can be found in the U.S. pervasively.

A famous U.S. television and cinema star Bill Cosby persistently urged the media in his country that the death of Martin was a problem of gun ownership and not racially motivated. Cosby is a black himself, but he holds controversial viewpoints regarding the blacks and some magazines such as The Atlantic have called him a racist.

In a Guardian article, American journalist Mychal Denzel Smith has noted, "Cosby is right that Trayvon Martin's murder is partly about US gun culture, but his overlooking racism is dangerous wishfulness."

"Undoubtedly, there is a need to have an honest discussion about the role guns play in our society, when you consider, as Gary Younge reports, there are approximately 90 guns for every 100 people in the U.S/ and more than 85 people a day are killed by them. Cosby's concern should be all of ours… But his downplaying the role race played in the killing of Trayvon Martin is not something we can afford... Self-appointed black friend Joe Oliver became a surrogate on cable news, trying to absolve Zimmerman of any charges of racism," wrote Denzel Smith.

"It has never mattered whether Zimmerman personally is a racist, but from what we can hear of his 911 call and can establish from his pattern of reporting suspicious figures in the neighborhood where he shot and killed Martin, it's clear that he operated on racial stereotypes," he added.

Lo and behold, the U.S. sees in history the existence and predominance of discriminatory measures against the blacks such as the Jim Crow laws. Since 1876 until recently in 1965, these set of laws mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy and allocated to the Black Americans economic, social, educational and financial facilities and services which were overtly inferior than those which were offered to the whites.

Under the current circumstances, it seems that the United States has a long way to disentangle itself from the awful scaffolding of racism and racial discrimination which is looming over the life of more than 40 million blacks living in the country.

KZ/MA

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