Black history month is here, and that means it is time to educate ourselves on the terrible past and celebrate achievements made by African Americans. Even as far as we have come in the last 100 years, we are still a long-shot from being fully accepting of all races. Many mechanisms have been devised to keep racism alive and well, even in today’s modern society.
African Americans are much more likely to be incarcerated than whites, and receive harsher punishments for the same crimes. “African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites,” according to the NAACP. Not only that, but African Americans will usually get a harsher punishment for non-violent crimes than whites. “Blacks served virtually as much time in prison for a nonviolent drug offense (58.7 months) as whites did for a violent offense (61.7 months),” according to a report by the ACLU entitled “Racial Disparities in Sentencing.” Not only does this hurt the individual, it also hurts their families as their children now have to grow up without a parent.
If the above wasn’t bad enough, money is also an issue. African Americans are far less likely to make a livable wage or receive a loan. Without being able to obtain a loan, this forces many to live in the inner city where housing is more affordable. Also making less money, and many males with a criminal record, leaves a large portion of people in these situations without a means to make a living. Many will turn to a more lucrative but also criminal way to gain money, leading to a never ending cycle of incarceration and illegal activity that can make living in these areas more dangerous.
Living in the inner city comes with its consequences, many schools are overcrowded and underfunded. African Americans are also much more likely to be suspended for school for smaller infractions than their white counterparts. “Zero Tolerance policies as a result of perceived problems of school violence; [have an] adverse affect [sic] on black children,” according to the NAACP. “35 percent of black children grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers compared to 20 percent of Hispanics and 15 percentof whites.” This under education just exacerbates every problem listed so far. With a proper education and real equality when it comes to wages and loans, we as a nation will come closer true equality.