What is racism? Racism is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. (Merrian-Webster)
Racism is rooted in the history United States. An article written by Jamiles Lartey and Sam Morris for The Guardian states, “Historians broadly agree that lynching was a method of social and racial control meant to terrorize black Americans into submission.” They also mentioned that data from the Tuskegee Institute said, 4,743 people who died at the hands of US lynch mobs between 1881 and 1968 3,446 were African Americans.
After years of facilitated racism in this country you would think things would get a bit better, but no it hasn’t. In today’s America, a black individual is still looked down on because of the color of their skin. Pamela Ramsey Taylor, a former West Virginia mayor, had no problem expressing her racist ways towards the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, when she said, “it will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the white house. I am tired of seeing an Ape in heels.”
Another key point is the racism from law enforcements towards blacks. It makes me sad and anger to see my reaction when a police officer is in my rearview mirror. I instantly become terrified evening knowing I did nothing wrong because it brings back memories of the countless unarmed black males who were killed by law enforcement. Jacob Bor from The Lancet stated that more than 300 black Americans are killed by police each year in the United States. He also mentioned that black Americans are nearly three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police which account for more than 40% of victims of all police killings nationwide. Also, blacks are five times more likely to be killed unarmed than white Americans. (pp. 302) Here are a few names to remember: Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald, Oscar Grant, and Botham Shem Jean. All unarmed and killed by the ones who promise to serve and protect the people.
Racism don’t only affect the dynamics of the black community, it also plays a round on the health of the individuals. Imagine having to feel like you have to constantly keep looking over you shoulders or constantly having to live in fear because of the color of your skin. It will eventually cause that specific race to become stress and defensive because of the unknown interaction they will have with somebody other than their race. An example of how racism affect the health of blacks is the increase in weight in African American women. Nicole Mayo from Howard University wrote an article about Racism-Related Stress and its effects of eating behavior among African American women. She states, “Results which revealed that racism-related stress was related to emotional and compulsive overeating by way of one’s racial identity attitude.” Nicole also said, “Data indicated that for high levels of racism-related stress, emotional eating increased possibly using food as a means to suppress, numb and/or soothe emotions such as stress, anger, fear, anxiety, depression, boredom, or loneliness to cope with perceive racism-related stress.”
The Reverend Martin Luther King once said, ” I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judge by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” As an African American in this country, and having the knowledge and experience of racism, I can only hope that one day that dream will become a reality and I will be treated as equal as my white counterparts.