Arts & Entertainment Editor
Growing up in the Deep South and living here my entire life, racism and prejudice are not strangers to me.
Unfortunately, not only have I experienced these within the communities I grew up in, but also in my social spheres – especially from the people I am expected to respect and look up to.
Too many times have I signed on to Facebook only to sign back off, exhausted and ashamed after finding an obviously racist story shared by some distant aunt or uncle. And too many times have I heard the line “They’re old and grew up in racism. It’s all they know, and it’s really too late to change them now.”
If that’s true, then I have very little faith in humanity’s future.
According to an article run by NBC News, “64 percent (of Americans) said racism remains a major problem in our society. Thirty percent agreed that racism exists today, but it isn’t a major problem.”
I don’t know how this is even a question. Just this month, the state of Alabama has announced that it is ending its two-month investigation into the shooting of Emantic Fitzgerald “EJ” Bradford Jr. at the Galleria Thanksgiving night.
The officer who shot him isn’t being investigated or charged, despite the fact that Bradford was running away (along with the rest of the Galleria’s customers), with no connection to the initial shooting. In fact, Bradford only pulled out his gun to go back and protect his friend, who got left behind in the middle of the action.
Not only did the officer shoot without any warning, but it is apparent from the video of the event that Bradford was no threat to anyone. And yet, it’s been decided that his death doesn’t warrant any further investigation – a very concerning example of how racism IS still a problem.
Though the unjustified and atrocious shooting of an innocent black man comes as no surprise to anyone anymore, it’s also important to note the less radical examples of racism we face every day. While it occurs within all generations, it can feel most prevalent at times coming from the older members of society that we are taught to respect and admire.
We’re told they’re racist because that’s all they’ve known, which isn’t a lie – but at what point do we acknowledge that age and background aren’t justification for racist or prejudiced comments and actions? Do we assume they don’t realize what they’re saying is racist and continue to ignore them for their sake, or do we accept that the time has come, to stop letting subtle (or sometimes not-very-subtle) racism slide and call people out?
Here’s a tip: if you wonder if you’re being racist or offensive, you probably are.
Examples of racism to watch yourself for:
If you share a post on Facebook about how wearing a hijab in a bank should be impermissible because it is catering to a group of people who “hate us and refuse to assimilate to American culture,” that’s offensive.
If you talk about how we need to build the wall because “the Mexicans are stealing all our jobs,” that’s racist.
If you believe in ANY WAY that a person is less important than you are based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or literally any other reason, that’s prejudiced.
We can’t just keep letting racism slide because we are afraid to offend older generations. This isn’t “millennial snowflakes” getting offended about something else – this is a real and prevalent issue that has existed for far too long.
Wake up, Alabama, and smell the racism – let’s make a change so that we aren’t continuing this same conversation 10 years from now.
For more research into the articles used for the writing of this article, check out these articles: https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/2019/02/hoover-police-officer-justified-in-fatal-thanksgiving-galleria-mall-shooting-ag-rules.html and https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/poll-64-percent-americans-say-racism-remains-major-problem-n877536.