The Unaddressed Race Issue In America

Racial tension 1This summer in America has brought about numerous tragedies. June started with a rapist in California that was essentially set free, on June 12th there was the most deadly mass shooting on American soil at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and July saw multiple fatal police shootings of African-American men. Alton Sterling was fatally shot on July 5th. Just one day later, Philando Castile faced the same brutal end by white police officers, which was filmed by his fiancé while their 4-year-old daughter sat in the back seat and watched her father die. These senseless killings sparked outrage throughout the nation, leading to protests calling for the end of police violence in almost every major city across the America.

White law enforcement officers persecuting and harming the African-American population has been an issue in this country since its birth, almost 250 years ago. The sad truth is that the making of America has essentially been through the oppression and exploitation of people of color or lower classes. But there comes a point when the oppressed fight back. There have been thousands of protests and riots spanning the decades since slavery, from the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles during 1992, to more recent events like those that took place in Ferguson, Missouri just 2 summers ago.

Each time there is a tragedy like this in the United States, there is the same cycle of outrage, sadness and protesting. Yet time after time, the white men do not pay for their crimes the same way a minority would have to, and go on with their privileged life. America is getting angrier and angrier, but still nothing is changing.

Just by looking at incarceration statistics of the United States, there is an incredibly clear divide of which races are more populous in prisons. For every 100,000 Americans of all ages, 450 white people are incarcerated whereas a shocking 2,306 black people are incarcerated according to the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics of 2010. The Caucasian race accounts for 64 percent of the total United States population, and 39 percent of the United States incarcerated population.The African-American race accounts for 13 percent of the total United States population, and 40 percent of the United States incarcerated population. These ratios show the shockingly skewed proportions of racial inequality in the American criminal justice system.

Black men are not alone when it comes to injustice in the American judicial system. It is unfortunately very common to see any minority lose when going against a white male, even if the evidence is on their side. The recent case about Stanford rapist, Brock Turner, is a prime example of how being a white privileged male in America is still the best bet at a safe and free future.

Brock Turner was convicted on three felony sex abuse charges for assaulting an unconscious woman. Not only was he caught in the act by fellow Stanford students and later arrested, but the DNA evidence clearly showed him at fault. This type of crime is punishable with up to 14 years in state prison…but guess what the verdict was given by fellow white male judge Aaron Persky? Turner was sentenced to only six months of jail time, with the possibility to bring it down to three if he has good behavior.

This ruling sparked national outrage, and a petition to recall the judge, but sadly this is an outcome that is far too common. Only 8 to 37 percent of rapes result in prosecution according to a study by the Department of Justice, and even worse, for every 100 rapes, only five rapists will end up in prison. The truth is that America is still an extremely racist and sexist country, and white men are still given a perverted amount of power.

The 23-year-old rape victim in this case wrote an anonymous letter that quickly went viral after verdict. Her words could not sum up the racial problems of America any better: “If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class."

Stanford law professor, Michele Dauber, is one of the many who have signed the petition to recall judge Persky, saying, “He has made women at Stanford and across California less safe. He bent over backwards in order to make an exception … and the message to women and students is 'you're on your own,' and the message to potential perpetrators is, 'I've got your back.'"

Just this past April, another star collegiate athlete, Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey, was found guilty of raping an unconscious woman. Similar to the Brock Turner case, there was plenty of evidence showing that Batey was at fault, and he too was charged with three felonies. But in a drastically different outcome, Batey was immediately put in custody, and is currently serving a minimum sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison.

America is upset at this clearly unjust law system, and yet still things are not changing. There have been so much racial tension building up throughout our entire country’s history. In the explosive instances when it does overflow, tragedy quickly follows. There have been so many tragedies. The police shootings at a Dallas protest and in Baton Rouge show just how dangerous it can be for innocent, hard-working Americans when racial tensions are ignored. We cannot ignore it anymore.

The hushed reality of America today is that being a white male in society is still the ticket to success. This demographic has gotten away with so much more than any other race or gender. Despite the progressive steps in our world, women and other races always seem to come in second against the privileged white male. White male privilege is committing a monstrous crime and walking away with a warning. It is when a judge has faith that a man will never rape anyone ever again even though he just did. If we are ever going to get justice for minorities, the first step needs to be ending white male privilege.