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Racism in the USA

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If anybody has been following the news over the last year or so, perhaps you'll have seen the case of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old boy walking home to his dad's house who was shot on the street by an elderly neighbour who thought he looked 'threatening'. The neighbour claims that he was sitting in his car holding his pistol when he saw Trayvon walk past and decided to pursue him. Trayvon then punched him and tried to grab his gun - so he shot him.

Whether this tale is true or not, the fact remains that this neighbour was NOT arrested for 6 weeks, even though the circumstances of what happened were unclear and he'd obviously committed a murder regardless of the defence behind it. A huge amount of speculation went into the fact that this was an elderly white man who'd shot a black kid seemingly for just for existing and walking down the street in a hoodie - was this failure to arrest him down to racism in the justice system? Said elderly man, George Zimmerman, has today been found not guilty of any charges. Again, I think it's hardly surprising that it seems suspicious and is again raising the ugly head of racial tension.

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23304198

It's not just racism in this direction, there's even positive racism in the US, such as scholarships and preferential treatment for those who can say that their great-grandad or whoever was part native american indian. I have friends from non-white backgrounds who've gone over to the US on holidays and found that there's an atmosphere where suddenly how they look does make a difference. Getting off the plane, all the white people go straight through security and all the asian people (even if they are middle aged professionals!) have been stuck in a delayed queue for extra checks.

The thing that really gets me is that the USA is fundamentally an immigrant society - apart from the native americans every single person there has immigrated there, albeit a long time ago in terms of generations for some (although this applies to both black and white people!). It's far more multi-cultural than a lot of other countries around the world. I'm not saying that there isn't racism in the rest of the world - of course there is - but it's somehow more surprising that it exists in a society where it's been mixed race for generations and where nobody can feel edged out. In the UK we have a racist political party the BNP, but their arguments mostly stem from the fact that they think the indigenous population deserve everything going in the UK and that everybody else is somehow stealing or ruining it. They are idiots and unfortunately they are joined by a racist nationalist party in much of Northern Europe at the very least. But this 'nationalist' thing makes no sense in the USA because there's no real original people. About the only people qualified to start their own racist nationalist party are the native americans who to my knowledge seem to keep themselves to themselves and if they want anything, it's just reparations.

So, what do you guys think? How is it that a society with so much multi-culturalism can have so many internal problems regarding race? What if anything should or could be done about it?

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I'm not sure whether or not Zimmerman release is a direct result of racism in the American system, but I do believe there is racism to some extent. America has had some history of racial profiling, detaining many "suspicious" persons since 911, many of which were released later. One could easily argue that due to the circumstances being "uncertain", the "stand your ground" law was in effect and try to justify the shooting as an act of defence. They could pretty easily make up any believable story based on their current surroundings at the time to justify why the killing was done, to cover up the action even if it was because of racial attitudes.

IMO America has always been regarded as having an assimilationist society instead one welcoming multiculturalism, at least in Canada. I live in Toronto, where we are close to said have been one of the most multicultural cities in the world, if not second to none. Though, as I walk through the streets I do indeed see many different ethnicities, but they're all "clumped" together in their own race! Canada has also been a mixed society of different races but in a way that everyone that is similar to another is grouped together. And even though we often see mixed groups of friends, it is less likely to make a friend of a completely different culture than one similar to your own.

When groups of people with the same race talk to each other, they may disclose opinions about others exclusively. This inspires some habit of racism.

There is already some action to fight against racism in countries. Many of you have probably heard about MUN- and government funding could lead to icebreaker projects where people can learn about each other's traditions through large scale municipal activities, arts/cultures banquets, etc. However, I don't think many governments believe racism is the primary issue in a country and there isn't exactly a huge incentive to tackle it anytime soon. What people simply need to do is open up to one another and wipe away any negative first impressions and generalizations they've made from that one offsetting experience - not everyone you meet turns out like an *******.

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If anybody has been following the news over the last year or so, perhaps you'll have seen the case of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old boy walking home to his dad's house who was shot on the street by an elderly neighbour who thought he looked 'threatening'. The neighbour claims that he was sitting in his car holding his pistol when he saw Trayvon walk past and decided to pursue him. Trayvon then punched him and tried to grab his gun - so he shot him.

Whether this tale is true or not, the fact remains that this neighbour was NOT arrested for 6 weeks, even though the circumstances of what happened were unclear and he'd obviously committed a murder regardless of the defence behind it. A huge amount of speculation went into the fact that this was an elderly white man who'd shot a black kid seemingly for just for existing and walking down the street in a hoodie - was this failure to arrest him down to racism in the justice system? Said elderly man, George Zimmerman, has today been found not guilty of any charges. Again, I think it's hardly surprising that it seems suspicious and is again raising the ugly head of racial tension.

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23304198

It's not just racism in this direction, there's even positive racism in the US, such as scholarships and preferential treatment for those who can say that their great-grandad or whoever was part native american indian. I have friends from non-white backgrounds who've gone over to the US on holidays and found that there's an atmosphere where suddenly how they look does make a difference. Getting off the plane, all the white people go straight through security and all the asian people (even if they are middle aged professionals!) have been stuck in a delayed queue for extra checks.

The thing that really gets me is that the USA is fundamentally an immigrant society - apart from the native americans every single person there has immigrated there, albeit a long time ago in terms of generations for some (although this applies to both black and white people!). It's far more multi-cultural than a lot of other countries around the world. I'm not saying that there isn't racism in the rest of the world - of course there is - but it's somehow more surprising that it exists in a society where it's been mixed race for generations and where nobody can feel edged out. In the UK we have a racist political party the BNP, but their arguments mostly stem from the fact that they think the indigenous population deserve everything going in the UK and that everybody else is somehow stealing or ruining it. They are idiots and unfortunately they are joined by a racist nationalist party in much of Northern Europe at the very least. But this 'nationalist' thing makes no sense in the USA because there's no real original people. About the only people qualified to start their own racist nationalist party are the native americans who to my knowledge seem to keep themselves to themselves and if they want anything, it's just reparations.

So, what do you guys think? How is it that a society with so much multi-culturalism can have so many internal problems regarding race? What if anything should or could be done about it?

It really is unfortunate that Zimmerman got away with this. Even if his intention was not to kill the boy the blood of a 17 year old is still on his hands, Manslaughter would have at least been appropriate, especially considering he has no kids and only a wife as a dependent. One thing he is by no means elderly, he is 28 years old and he is repeatedly being called white in the media despite being a mixed race Hispanic. I think portraying him as a elderly white man is biased media attempting to make white right wing Americans look insane, despite this guy being a young, mixed race American. So there is some more racism! So many layers of it in this issue…

The scholarship and acceptance system in the US is for sure an unusual one. It gives ethnicities that may be underrepresented at certain schools an opportunity to become educated. That being said it undermines the US ideal of being a Meritocracy (Unfortunately a word many Americans don’t even have in their vocabulary) because its no longer based on merit if you give a scholarship to someone with a 3.8 GA over someone with a 3.9 GPA just because he or she was born African-American. People will immediately say “Well those groups have less opportunity and are underrepresented in university, what are you racist?!?!” Actually no, I try to hold up ideals and make the objective not subjective. This is a ban-aid solution. Instead we should ask why are not minorities attending universities as much as other groups in the US? Instead of artificially propagating them in. This is a sign that something is wrong with the society and unfairly giving out scholarships in not the answer.

Asians and Middle eastern people getting held up at an airport is a very common occurrence and by no means an exaggeration. And although judging a book by its cover is wrong it is human nature and we have to see this doesn’t stem from some hatred or inherent dislike of these people. Its all about the social, political and cultural climate of the time. 50 years ago these people would pass through airport security as quickly as anyone else, however if you were from Eastern Europe you were profiled as a communist spy looking to seal America’s secrets and destroy its way of life. So its nothing personal these profilings it’s just a matter of the time and it will pass. This doesn’t mean profiling isn’t dangerous though, not does it mean it isn’t useful. Profiling is what probably killed Trayvon Martin that night due to Zimmerman’s “logic “ if it can even be called that. But as well profiling is what makes shop keepers take your hood off when you enter in a store, is it because you are criminal if you wear a hood? No its because criminals hide their faces with hoods. Nothing personal, just function… two sides to every coin.

This is so true that the US is an immigrant society, but I don’t think that really matters and it hasn’t ever. When it’s a fight for resources people will pick camps based on the smallest of differences. Although this might be a somewhat shallow example, have you ever seen “gangs of New York” with Leonardo DiCaprio? The big conflict in the movie was “native” born Americans waging gang wars against the Irish Catholics coming into their country and poisoning its society. I’m not sure you anyone else who watched it, but my thoughts were “ What is you’re problem? You are all White, you are all Anglo-Saxon, you all speak English, you are all some type of Christian.” So no matter the difference people will find conflicts and immigrants are always easy pickings and easy to rally behind.

Them white people be crazy, yo.

That was racist... if you said 'Zimmerman is crazy yo." That not so disputable, but white people collectively is not cool. Oh wait we can make fun of white people because of what their great great great grandfathers did :P And lets put all white people under the same umbrella despite most of these conflicts being started by Western European super-powers.

I'm not sure whether or not Zimmerman release is a direct result of racism in the American system, but I do believe there is racism to some extent. America has had some history of racial profiling, detaining many "suspicious" persons since 911, many of which were released later. One could easily argue that due to the circumstances being "uncertain", the "stand your ground" law was in effect and try to justify the shooting as an act of defence. They could pretty easily make up any believable story based on their current surroundings at the time to justify why the killing was done, to cover up the action even if it was because of racial attitudes.

IMO America has always been regarded as having an assimilationist society instead one welcoming multiculturalism, at least in Canada. I live in Toronto, where we are close to said have been one of the most multicultural cities in the world, if not second to none. Though, as I walk through the streets I do indeed see many different ethnicities, but they're all "clumped" together in their own race! Canada has also been a mixed society of different races but in a way that everyone that is similar to another is grouped together. And even though we often see mixed groups of friends, it is less likely to make a friend of a completely different culture than one similar to your own.

When groups of people with the same race talk to each other, they may disclose opinions about others exclusively. This inspires some habit of racism.

There is already some action to fight against racism in countries. Many of you have probably heard about MUN- and government funding could lead to icebreaker projects where people can learn about each other's traditions through large scale municipal activities, arts/cultures banquets, etc. However, I don't think many governments believe racism is the primary issue in a country and there isn't exactly a huge incentive to tackle it anytime soon. What people simply need to do is open up to one another and wipe away any negative first impressions and generalizations they've made from that one offsetting experience - not everyone you meet turns out like an *******.

Those banquets and learning about other cultures are all fine and dandy when rule of law is there, when we’re all clothed, well fed and have jobs, but take those away and things can quickly turn. Just look at the break-up of Yugoslavia, marginally different ethnic groups who spoke identical languages if not atleast similar broke up along religious lines. Once peaceful neighbors quickly turned into an enemy that would burn down your house. Again in times of trouble we will find camps no matter how much understanding we had in peace time.

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Racism still exists in USA, it is very sad that the country with maximum number of immigrants from different societies and culture face racism issue. This is one of the reason why there is maximum number of security firm in US. Nearly every house and hotel had install home and hotel safes and alarms.

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You want to know how racism is institutionalised? Just read any of Jonathan Kozols books. Overt violence at this level is relatively rare; but it is merely the tip of the ice berg. The more pernicious (and interesting, dare I say) racism is the banal, everyday variety. Dwell less on the shootings, look at the mundane, everyday existence of many non-whites. Kozol writes poignantly about the fate of black and Hispanic inner -city school children in Savage Inequalities. It is hard to believe that the richest, most powerful and culturally diverse nation on Earth allows this.

It is interesting the comments made about about the multicultural in Canada, and I agree that cultures, in the larger Canadian cities at least, tend to "clump"together. One thing I noticed while there was that the multicultural celebrations I happened on tended to be limited to superficials: fun, food and fairs. There is plenty of that in Europe too and, recently, lots of chest beating in the Nordic societies (Finland being the most obvious) about "advances" in multicultural understanding etc. but in the end, it is pretty superficial and any recognition of differences tend to be based on externals (looks, skin colour ) and little integration or understanding. In bringing this up in Finnish schools (during visits there in the wake of 2009 PISA) teachers seemed to think it "too hard and intellectual" for the average Joe. Instead, they turned to easy national (stereotypical) descriptions of each country ..which alone do little to advance any genuine understanding... And require no intelligence whatsoever. It is frustrating to see nationality and skin colour as still the only defining distinction for those "obviously not one of us".

Perhaps the quickest way for us to see ourselves as one varied and interesting united species is with Alien intervention.

A little off topic, back to racism in America...

Edited by Blackcurrant

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Racism will always be present, but why accuse EVERYONE of being a racist. Racism is defined as "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races." Racism is not, for example, defending yourself from someone who just happened to be a minority. What kind of logic is that?! If I am being attacked, forced to defend myself, etc. I will do anything and everything in my power to get away. If this includes hurting someone, so be it.

Since several of the posters on this thread are of non-American nationality, I guess it would help for me to give the insight of the (biased) American press as well as my own. Many news stations are saying what happened was based solely on Trayvon Martin's race. I have also heard many reporters claiming that Martin was an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was just going to the gas station to pick up a snack. This is somewhat false. Trayvon was a large 17 year old football player. He was known for being aggressive, and marijuana was found in his system. The neighborhood had several instances of robbery, and a neighborhood watch was put together. After it was released that the robberies were being committed by black teens, the neighborhood watch of the gated community was on alert for suspicious looking black teens. Note that these watchmen were not looking for black teens; they were looking for suspicious black teens. Trayvon was wearing a hoodie and walking through the rain. He also fit the profile of the reported robber(s).

However, here is how Zimmerman is at fault. He is young, not an elderly male as previously described. He was patrolling as a neighborhood watchman when he spotted the suspicious teen. After calling 911, the operator told him to wait in his vehicle. Vigilante action was uncalled for, but that is exactly what Zimmerman did. After approaching Martin and asking him about his business in the gated community Trayvon was angered. Trayvon should not have been in the gated community, and Zimmerman should not have approached him. While Zimmerman was on his way back to his car, Martin attacked him. I would say the blame is 50/50 and both characters are at fault.

This is only my opinion, I just feel that no one truly knows what happened that night. This includes myself and the police. Only George Zimmerman knows what happened and he may be telling the truth. The point is that if his story is true, we should not only be blaming Zimmerman, we should be blaming Martin too. I would like to know what others think so please leave your opinion :D

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