Equality (or Lack Thereof) in the U.S.

Kayla Lien, Opinion Writer

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Kayla Lien, Opinion Writer

 

America likes to boast that it’s the best country in the world; that the U.S. is Number One. If our country is so great, why are our people still treated terribly? There is no nation in the entire world with true equality; be it racial, gender, sexuality, etc. People of color in this country were terrified watching red take over and they’re terrified now. Living situations are getting ever-worse for immigrants and those of non-mainstream religions like Islam or Judaism. Queerphobia is and has been prevalent for centuries, especially in today’s society.

People of color are still victims of unfair stereotypes and racism. As of 2017 alone (up to the end of April), 83 black Americans were shot and killed by police, 56 people of Hispanic origin have been killed by police, along with eight people of color who were shot while they were holding a toy weapon. 55 people of unknown or other races were also killed this year.

In 1865, African-American slaves were freed (technically, the year was 1863, but word didn’t reach everyone until two years later). In 1964, Jim Crow laws were abolished. It’s been half a century since legal discrimination ended, yet people who are not “white” in America are still prejudiced against.

Bigotry in America doesn’t end with race, though. Hate crimes targeted towards Muslim and Jewish people (as well as others) are still prevalent and get worse with every passing day. Insults are hurled on the streets, in subways, and in other public areas. A high school in Cincinnati was defaced with swastikas and “Trump” signs, as well as racist and homophobic slurs on the baseball field and benches. Tanya Gersh was the target of a Neo-Nazi “troll storm”, getting death threats day in and day out. The Neo-Nazi group is able to do this, being protected under the First Amendment.

Sadly, due to the First Amendment, many are protected in spouting off disgust and offensive insults. “Freedom of speech” is how many plead not guilty when charged for hate crimes.

What unfortunately isn’t defended by the law is abortion and there is talk of punishment for those receiving such care. Many believe abortion is morally wrong, taking root especially in the Christian faith. Such a belief should not be mingling with taxpayers’ dollars, since there is a supposed wall between religion and government. This wall is crumbling and some people of faith are easily mixing politics and religion. Currently, there is much taboo surrounding abortion and those receiving such care are often shamed and ridiculed; even going so far as having protesters wait outside the abortion clinic to shout obscenities and insults at those walking in. Teen pregnancies, victims of sexual abuse, single mothers, impoverished families; an unsung part of society. Punishment for abortion would tie their hands behind their backs; forced to bring life into the world when the baby might not even be able to survive the environment, due to trials like poverty and violence.

While America is concerned about forcing people to take care of a child they might not want, we’re also concerned about keeping children from same-sex parents. Same-sex relationships/marriage has always been a large controversy around the world. In America, marriage equality was legalized in June 2015, but since Donald Trump has taken over Presidency, it looks like we’re going back in time. Under the Obama Administration, there was a page dedicated to LGBT+, highlighting the U.S.’s victories in equality and showcasing projects to help queer youth, but an hour after the election results were finalized, that page disappeared entirely. The White House has yet to say if it will be reinstated.

People like to say they can’t believe a whole group of people used to think they were better than all the rest, then turn around and make a racist joke. Society is so disgusted by the idea of slavery and segregation, but history is repeating itself. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, they’ll become us.

White supremacy exists and the Klu Klux Klan is prevalent in society. A poll reports that one of the most popular social issues of 2017 is whether or not the Confederate flag should be allowed to be displayed on government property. We’re still fighting over a flag with extremely racist connotations, one that represents the ideals of slavery and authority over dark-skinned people. Even Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, some of the most famous Confederate leaders, wanted it down. Whenever you open up a news source, you can read stories of racially-charged violences.

Women are still victims of abuse such as human trafficking or domestic violence. 2017’s social issues also include the question if marital rape is considered rape. Rape is rape, regardless what the situation is. Rape is a topic that’s been discussed over and over, but we never move out of square one. In fact, sexual abuse is common and normal in America. Roughly 1 in 5 women in the U.S. have been sexually assaulted, yet all we hear is radio silence. Instead of teaching that sexual assault is wrong (to say the least), girls are taught that we must be careful when outside at night. We are taught to be aware of our surroundings, how to break fingers and how to not get raped.

As of December 2016, in as many as 73 countries, queer people can still be jailed or killed. There have been multiple anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in the U.S. this year, including, but not limited to, the brutal beating of a gay actor and terrorizing of a gay man while in his own home. Little kids hold up “God hates gays!” signs, some so young they can’t even read the hate coming from their lips. As ridiculous as it seems, people have to power to hate other people so fearsomely, regardless of their relation to another.

We expect our leaders to save the day, but the U.S. shouldn’t be holding out on the hierarchy. On April 27, Donald Trump was having an interview with Reuters. In said interview, he remarked, “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” He’s talking about being President. He thought it would be easier. Trump also warns of “major, major conflict” with North Korea, but he says this as he sits in the comforts of the Oval Office, doing nothing about it.

When I asked a friend how she felt about Trump’s America, she put two fingers in a gun-like position into her mouth and mimed pulling the trigger. “It’s unfair,” she said, “How he is only helping a portion of Americans and not the greater good of the country.” She then muttered, “I’m being very nice here.” It’s the same “blond-hair, blue eyes” rhetoric, and besides the alarming amount of parallels between Trump and Hitler, Trump is helping those few Americans exactly like himself. White, straight, cis males.

We’re moving backwards, not forwards. This movement for issues in America is terrifying. It’s scary for those of us unable to do anything about it. We are watching as this nation turns into something straight out of a nightmare.  

America used to be “Home of the Free, Land of the Brave,” but now all we are is “Home of the Discriminated, Land of the Cowards.”

Negativity aside, we still have a fighting chance. Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  are taking their anger straight to the White House.  They called for a full and public investigation of the allegations of the Russians interfering with the Presidential election. The very banner of their website is a photo of Donald Trump with the words, “He discriminated, we sued.” They are the “nation’s leading civil liberties advocate in the Supreme Court”, and this program is working to empower communities across the U.S., and protect the people (a job that the government should be doing).

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is doing likewise. They are introducing a resolution condemning Anti-LGBTQ violence currently happening in Chechnya. These people are actively “standing together for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality” in a country that hasn’t previously been very accepting.

Both organizations are giving us a light in the darkness. They’re taking action for something that’s important and the whole of our nation should do so as well.

If our country unites against injustice, we will overcome. We’ll thread a patchwork of hope, equality, love, all the things that made this country so great once upon a time. It’s time to take a stand. After all, revolutions start with only one.

High School Defaced with Trump and Swastikas

Tanya Gersh: Victim of a Troll Storm

National Police Shooting of 2017

76 Countries Where Homosexuality is Illegal

Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis Wanted the Confederate Flag Down

Social Polls

Hate Crimes

Kansas Gay Man Terrorized Home Gun Toting Spray Painting Vandals

ACLU

HRC

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Equality (or Lack Thereof) in the U.S.