When Will They Matter? – Part 2
It has been the national skeleton in the closet for many years now, constantly peeking out from the shadows to remind us all that it did indeed happen, and it does indeed continue today in its own way. The skull-topped phantom in question is the disparity between Caucasian Americans and African-Americans. A small difference in skin pigment that more often than not causes a huge difference in lifestyle as a result of the inherent racism left behind by a nation that once bought and sold fellow humans like cattle. The fateful chapters of the history books show how slaves were taken, bred and mistreated until new generations of black people began their uneasy lives as Americans. Years after endless atrocities, the very people who were merely animals or property are given the insurmountable task of assimilating into society. And here is where we struggle today, because even though one evil was put to bed the things that spawned in its place question whether America believes Black Lives matter.
Not only are we only a handful of generations down the line from those very same people who exploited African-Americans, but the culture never really catered for this additional group of citizens who now make up 17 percent of the population. After a more than rocky adjustment period its safe to say that things did not go swimmingly for those involved. Entering society as an underclass immediately meant that the race as a whole was left at a disadvantage. Financially, mentally and spiritually in deficit, the people at the bottom took whatever they were given. Physicality was the only real advantage they had, after years of interbreeding between slaves had created superior laborers. But of course, their physical appearance was the one thing that created the barrier between the haves and have-nots. Their larger bodies were even portrayed as monstrous in anti-black media, creating an image of horror that used fear to keep unsuspecting white people away from them. Instead of helping, the nation mocked them, their feelings didn’t matter because it seemed they as people didn’t.
When the drug epidemic of the 80’s broke, the already crippled communities just spiraled downward. Addiction spread like a plague across the impoverished ghettos which were essentially the housing equivalent of dumping grounds for black families. Drugs bred gangs and with gangs came more violence in already struggling dog eat dog neighbourhoods. Unsurprisingly drugs became some people’s only escape. A way to temporarily check out of a country that didn’t want them, a way to evade a reality so bleak that it was worth the gamble with death. All the while the public perception of the people who should be getting redeemed began sinking further and further as the news media perpetuated the negative imagery everyone had been warned about. Not every black person was on drugs, not every black person sold them and not all of them took part in the violence that was erupting across America, but this was not the public perception. Black equals crack seemed to fit nicely into the image that white America was comfortable with. The help they needed never came, and those law abiding citizens were thrown in with the rest of the bad bunch because once again their lives and the truth did not matter.