US should do more to confront racism - GulfToday

US should do more to confront racism


Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

Demonstrations descending into violence again on Sunday despite curfews in big cities across the US and the deployment of thousands of National Guard soldiers reveal the simmering anger sparked by the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck for several minutes.

Such was the fury that fires burned near the White House, stores were looted in New York City and Southern California, and a tanker truck drove into marchers in Minneapolis.

The pandemic fears have not remained a deterrent. Demonstrators are packed cheek by jowl, many without masks, many shouting or singing.

Interestingly, the demonstrations brought out a diversity of people. Those other than black people joining the demonstrations reveals the true colour of Americans, a large majority of whom reject hatred.

The killing of 46-year-old Floyd while in police custody in the city of Minneapolis is just the latest in a long line of killings of unarmed African Americans by US police officers and members of the public.

Racial tensions were also running high after two white men were arrested in May in the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and after Louisville, Kentucky, police shot Breonna Taylor to death in her home in March.

The continuing violence adds to America gloom amid economic ruin caused by the coronavirus, which has already killed over 100,000 Americans and sent unemployment soaring to levels not seen since the Depression.

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit minorities especially hard, not just in infections and deaths but in job losses and economic stress.

Black people account for 6.8% of the population in Minnesota but 29% of coronavirus cases, according to state and federal data.

The widespread resort to uniformed National Guards units is rare and has evoked disturbing memories of the rioting in US cities in 1967 and 1968 in a turbulent time of protest over racial and economic disparities.

President Donald Trump, on his part, has made no major public statement to address the growing crisis but has issued a flurry of tweets, describing protesters as “thugs” and urging mayors and governors to “get tough.”

It is hence not a surprise that critics accuse Trump, who is seeking re-election in a Nov.3 election, of further stoking conflict and racial tension rather than seeking to bring the country together and address the underlying issues.

It’s not just individuals, but companies too are raising their voice. Facebook Inc and Snap Inc have become the latest US companies condemning racial inequality in the United States.

The two tech companies stood with Intel Corp, Netflix Inc and Nike Inc in taking a public stance against Floyd’s death - voicing concerns about discrimination against African-Americans.

“We stand with the Black community - and all those working towards justice in honor of George floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten,” Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“I am heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of colour in America,” Snapchat Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel said in an internal memo. “We must begin a process to ensure that America’s black community is heard throughout the country.”

America should stop pretending there’s no racism issue and instead should send a loud and clear message rejecting it.


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