Sunday, August 24, 2014
Apartheid: Racism & Violence in America
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more
money on military defense than on programs of social
uplift is approaching spiritual doom."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are a visually-impaired country. We are a violent country. We are a society that is racist as well as sexist. And actually racism exists in almost any country in the world. But the US is one of the more dominant violent countries of the world. We have the bombs and the bullets and we use them to suit the business needs of our corporations. Its about power, profits and wealth. As the old bumper sticker states, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Somehow we believe that in the afterlife, that those who made a "killing" on the stock market or in business will be rewarded.
Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis Missouri, home to the Monsanto Corporation, is currently faced with massive protests regarding a white policeman shooting to death an unarmed young black man, Michael Brown. His body left on the street for hours, without the dignity of a shroud. He is one of many young black males to die in the US in confrontations with police. How many will die before our society says enough is enough? Will there be justice for Michael Brown? Was there justice for Trayvon Martin? There is an utter senselessness to these killings. And then when the community stands up against this injustice, they face tear gas and guns pointed in their faces? Why? Is protest now a crime?
I never heard of Ferguson, Missouri before this happened. But I certainly knew that St. Louis, Missouri is the home of Monsanto. It seemed ironic that a company so hated by environmentalists because of its poisoning of the earth and its people, seems smack dab in the middle of racist turmoil. Although, one might consider that environmental degradation is not only poisonous to the health of people but poisonous to the poorer communities, particularly poor black communities. Monsanto, is known for its manufacturing of DDT, aspartame, glyphosate herbicides-"Round Up," Agent Orange/Dioxin, PCBs, genetically modified seeds, aspirin, saccharin, caffeine, vanillin and assisted in the development of our first nuclear weapons. Monsanto is also known for its political influence in Congress, the FDA, the USDA, the EPA, the Courts-including the Supreme Court. Monsanto has the power to influence the nation; to make the populace accept the poisoning and pollution of our land. So should we be surprised that racism seems to be embedded in the roots of a city that Monsanto calls home? Is Monsanto still as racist as their 1950's ad, "It's Plastics Picking Time Down South, depicting blacks picking cotton? see
Or is the racism more subtle? For example, there has been a 98% decline in black farm ownership. Part of the reason for this decline is Monsanto's monopolies on seeds and its curtailing of saving seeds. The saving of seeds has been farmers economic lifeline; without that ability, farmers are put into greater and greater debt.
Who has suffered the most from unemployment (latest statistic from New Pittsburgh Courier/August 2014 jobless rate-4.9% white males, 11.4% black males, 4.9% white females, 10.1% black females)? Who is last to be hired and first to be fired? What neighborhoods have the worst schools with high drop out rates? Racism impacts jobs and education. It impacts medical care. Infant mortality rates for black infants is 2-3 times higher than white infants in the USA. Infant mortality is a barometer of economic well-being of a people. High rates of infant mortality shows us that the well being of the black community is in jeopardy. Black infants have the lowest breastfeeding rates. Racism has a lot to do with a community's access to knowledge about breastfeeding and the risks of infant formula.
When I was a young girl in the fifties I remember watching the television and seeing Southern police and their dogs attack civil rights protestors. I didn't understand that kind of cruelty then and I don't understand it now. I didn't understand why black people had to sit in the back of the bus? Or why they couldn't eat at lunch counters with white people? Or why there were bathrooms for white people only? Or why there were white hospitals and black hospitals? A black person who got into a car accident and was critically hurt near a white hospital would not be allowed in the white hospital and would have to travel to the black hospital (that is if there was a black ambulance). While desegregation has happened, the poisonous nature of racism still exists. It exists in laws that are applied unequally, in whether you can obtain a job or an education or where you can live.
Recently UN human rights official, Navi Pillay's commented to US authorities "urging the US authorities to investigate allegations of brutality and examine the 'root causes' of racial discrimination in America." She further stated, "..privately I was thinking that there are many parts of the United States where apartheid is flourishing." and, "Apartheid is also where law turns a blind eye to racism."(Reuters, Aug 20, 2014, "Missouri racial violence recalls apartheid, UN rights chief says," by Stephanie Nebehay)
As Pillay states in this article racism breeds conflict and violence. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated many years ago, "Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them." We seem to be stuck in the continuous tragedy of racism and violence. The US is the number one arms dealer of the world. We also export our crowd control weapons: tear gas, flash bang grenades, and rubber bullets. All this violence we have exported, only to have the police use it on our own streets.
I realize this is not my usual kind of post for my blog. Violence in our society is a huge problem that creates a common state of fear and anger, an exportation of wars across the globe, and violence in our streets. Violence towards one race, towards women and children, is self-perpetuating. It will never end unless more people demand an end to violence, racism, and sexism. This is the time for justice. A time to realize that violence only begets more violence.
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." --Martin Luther King, Jr.