It is no secret that America has a race problem. Since the first African slaves were brought to America more than four centuries ago, black people have lived in America as second class citizens. From enduring the horrors of slavery to the injustices of Jim Crow, black Americans have always had to work twice as hard to reap half the benefits, all while bigoted white Americans degraded and demeaned them simply for existing.
And racism in America is not over by any stretch of the imagination. Recently, the Milton Eisenhower Foundation revealed that, since 1968, systemic discrimination against African Americans has largely gotten worse: black Americans still have less access to loans, homes and jobs than their white counterparts, and in 50 years, discrimination by the police and the justice system has remained just as much a threat to black communities as ever.
And if the systemic injustices weren’t bad enough, black Americans have been subjected to unimaginable amounts of violence over the past centuries. Thousands of lynchings took place in just half a century after slavery’s end. Race riots were a common occurrence throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, in which racist mobs would kill dozens, even hundreds of black people. And just in the past few months, people have taken to the streets to speak out against the killings of black Americans by police.
The colossal, systemic cruelty with which our society treats African Americans is a disgrace. That is the injustice. That is the tragedy. And yet, so many people seem preoccupied with a few cases of “looting” and “rioting,” as if it outweighs centuries of discrimination, violence and prejudicial treatment. As always, those demanding equality are labeled dangerous thugs by a society all too happy to forget the centuries of abuse it helped commit.
Every step along the way to freedom, African Americans have been beaten and bruised in pursuit of liberty. Their dreams crushed, their homes burned and their families and friends killed by pathetic bigots.
Black lives matter. And if you are more upset by the protests than the circumstances that necessitated them, if order matters more to you than equality, if you care more about property than people, then you may be part of the problem.