A year ago at the corner of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, George Floyd was handcuffed, lying face down, as a white police officer knelt on his neck. He could barely breathe.
A year after the 46-year-old black man’s tragic death, the US faces a sharp surge in violent crimes against ethnic minority groups in the country.
“The huge crisis that we confront is a crisis around our failure to address systemic racism going back to the founding of this country,” Susan Rice, head of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said in interview.
For centuries, racism has been a pain for US society. More than 4.7 million American Indians were subjected to genocide. Black people like Floyd were choked by police brutality. Asian Americans fell victim to hate crimes. History has proven comprehensive, systemic and persistent racism in this country.
Racial discrimination is not the only sin the US committed in history, but a real problem besetting society today. An AP-NORC poll found about six in 10 Americans say racism in the US was a very or extremely serious problem. That is similar to the percentage that said the same thing one year ago.
Floyd’s case has become symbolic of the fight against racism in the US after a year. Yet society has hardly seen any progress in the face of racial discrimination. In fact, in the past year, incidents of police violence toward African Americans have been reported in the country. Some 229 black people on record have been killed by police in law enforcement during the past 12 months alone, according to Mapping Police Violence, an independent research program.
Discrimination that casts a long shadow exists “in almost every institution” of American lives, former US president Barack Obama once said. An extreme xenophobic mind-set including white supremacy, discrimination against African Americans, hatred of Asian Americans and Islamophobia haunt the country to this day, which further highlights the deep-rooted systemic racism of the US.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a cruel racial divide as data suggests African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans have had a much higher infection and mortality rate than white people. A fundamentally racist society for centuries has had a profound negative impact on ethnic minority communities, which has resulted in inequality when facing fatal diseases and getting access to healthcare.
The country’s constantly escalating hate crimes against Asian Americans have worsened the situation since the start of the pandemic. US officials criticized others for the virus to shift blame. This has made Asian Americans, who now lack a sense of security and live in fear, the scapegoats of the government’s failure to contain the pandemic.
The frequent occurrence of racial discrimination has caused wide disappointment in the US government within and outside the country. To implement its commitment to protect human rights and overcome racial inequities, the US needs to confront its real pain, stop shirking responsibility and crack down on discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities.