Institutionalised racism and classism in the United States

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Wendy Long (left), and Sister Mamie, repost signs that were removed from the Lafayette Park parameter near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. Photo by: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The world has witnessed the evil of institutionalised racism and classism in the United States, in the aftermath of the brutal death of George Floyd. 

Systemic racism continues to cause incalculable harm across the world. It was Dr Martin Luther King Jr who said, ”In a real sense, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Therefore, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another. The ground seems to have shifted in this land of huddled masses.

Racism is a global reality. We should start by understanding racism as a worldwide phenomenon that requires a worldwide response. It is often said that legal prohibitions on racist behaviour cannot eliminate the attitudes that underlie such behaviour. 

During times like these, we must be especially vigilant in combating the age-old viruses of hate and prejudice, which reassert themselves throughout history in times of fear. The deleterious effect of prejudice and racism on African Americans and other ethnic minority groups is well documented. 

There is little doubt as to how insidious racism is and that it permeates every facet of American life.

Racism, in all its forms, is the under-acknowledged human rights problem of our day. There is something particularly inhumane, morally reprehensible and egregious about racism. 

Racism is a tool of oppression that has a global reach. It works by dehumanising individuals and communities not only by denying their inherent equality and dignity but doing so on the basis of a constructed category of race designed for the purpose of separating humans into a hierarchy meant to permanently elevate some and suppress the other. Any form of racism is a violation of human rights under international law.

Much of American culture is predicated on the idea that they can create a better future for their progeny, instilling in them values that they as a nation have failed to uphold. Racism in any of its forms is an expression of unfathomable ignorance, the epitome of human folly. 

Racism, the belief that one group is superior to another due to race, is a grave moral disease whose recurrence, aggressiveness and persistence should frighten every one of us. 

In 1963, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the declaration on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. 

This document states clearly “that any doctrine of racial differentiation or superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and there is no justification for discrimination in theory or practice, ”racial injustice is still our burden and the world’s shame.”