A generationIn 2020, as bodies piled up, people of color had significantly higher death rates than whites. Compared with white Americans, they work in jobs that make them more susceptible to infections, have comorbidities that make them more likely to get sick, and have lower access to quality health care.This Charge display In a very visible way, racial disparities and racism still exist and are good in America
At the same time, police are attacking black people, and these attacks are spreading widely through new visual technology. Just as COVID exposed racial disparities, the murder of George Floyd unfolded before the eyes of millions in an undeniably racially oppressive way. Not only is structural racism in American society ugly, it is being dissected and debated on social media in unprecedented ways.
For a social justice movement to break out, you need to diagnose the problem. No matter how much suffering there is, oppression, inequality and injustice can be considered natural. For example, the Bible says that the poor will always be among us. Some people see it this way – it’s just fate. Or defective genes or cultures. A real diagnosis is finally on the table, discussed not only by a handful of academics and activists, but by Americans at large.
Knowing the depths of injustice angers people, who are on the streets in unprecedented numbers. In this way, the pandemic coincides with police oppression and technology to inspire the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. In addition, the pandemic has nearly shut down the economy, giving more people the opportunity to protest. During the Civil Rights Movement (CRM), college students had no class hours on so-called T-days (Tuesdays and Thursdays), especially for sit-ins and other protests. But at the height of the pandemic, more people had time to join the BLM and other protests. There was another breakthrough: For the first time in American history, people of all classes, races and nationalities joined the movement against racial oppression.
These protests brought important results. For the first time ever, there has been serious public consideration of racial disparities in health, schooling, college access and wealth. Police are more aware of the possibility of pursuing accountability. A debate over slavery reparations has sprung up — something hitherto unimaginable. More broadly, the intersection of the pandemic, police brutality and modern technology has fueled a very active progressive movement in the country and around the world.
How long the gains will last is unclear. Worryingly, the massive social justice movement has inspired counter-movements determined to block any progressive change in American society. The political right has gathered such new power that it has the potential to bring us back to a pre-civil rights era. CRM’s great achievements include the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. What’s under attack now? It’s the right to vote. Multiple states now have laws restricting the rights of what they call “minority voters,” referring to voters of color.
Also shocking was the recent Kyle Rittenhouse case, in which a vigilante who shot a white man at a mostly black protest was fully exonerated. In the 1960s, segregationists attacked white participants in CRM, describing them as racial traitors. Rittenhouse’s attack had a similar hint. Now white people know that if they join a protest, not only can conservatives attack them, but the courts may also be on the attacker’s side. Going forward, are they willing to risk their lives for a cause that doesn’t belong to them? How can we ignore the riots of January 6, 2021, when a mostly white armed mob tried to cancel the results of the presidential election?
It seems to me that there is a very serious conflict going on between progressive forces and conservative forces, between those fighting for equality and those fighting for the status quo. It is unclear who will win. What is clear is that the United States is at the highest level of polarization in modern history. I can imagine it must have looked like this before the Civil War. We are on the cusp of falling on either side—a fascist gulf, or a more hopeful democratic world.