The belief that drove people to fight, segregate, and discriminate
What role does racism play in our world today?
We have fought wars,
discovered cures for diseases, invested in green energy, and done countless other things to make our world a better place. It’s strange to think that we, as a population, have overcome the obstacles that are known as history today, but are yet to solve the puzzling mystery of how we treat each other. Racism, the concept of deciding superiority on one’s race, ethnicity, or culture has been prevalent from before the 19th century, where it had really matured and spread across the world. But even before that, in kingdoms, people of a lesser class would be judged by their country of origin or the colour of their skin. Back then, they could induce racial offense through fewer wages, more labor, reducing social privileges, which therefore lead to increase negative stigma around coloured people.
But how is racism still prevalent today? In the 21st century, we all have accounts on social media, which gives us a platform to speak our ideas and opinions, even when uninvited. As many of us online-users have heard, this social media does have its benefits. People have never been able to connect to such a large network of individuals before, making our world a tighter-knit community online. But is it possible that this new platform amplifies some of the racist views that are already prevailing in the real world? Is it boosting the amount of attention it really deserves? One current example explains the consequences of racism in our generation, and how it can lead to more violence and social disruption.
Jussie Smollett, one of the stars in the TV drama ‘Empire’ was recently attacked by two men yelling out racial and homophobic slurs, according to police reports. The 36-year-old actor, singer, and director was hit and had an unknown chemical substance poured onto his face. According to BBC, one of the attackers tied a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene on Tuesday morning. According to the latest sources, Jussie Smollett told the police that his attackers made a reference to M.A.G.A (Make America Great Again), a slogan popularly used by President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign. On CNN, in a ‘Good Morning America’ interview, Smollett shared a disagreement regarding his claim that the attacker referenced M.A.G.A:
“I never said that,” he said,”…There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae.”
Chicago police are investigating the alarming attack as against Smollett, who is black and openly gay, as a possible hate crime. “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served,” the actor continued. Celebrities such as Ellen, Naomi Campbell, and Oscar-winner Viola Davis have shared their outpouring support on social media, stating their opinions on racist and homophobic views.
This is one of the many examples that stand out amongst the horrendous events lead by racist ideologies. Another incident occurred on the 12th of August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. A demonstration against the White Supremacist rally was going on until a car plowed through the protestors, killing one person and injuring 19 others. According to The Huffington Post, hundreds of protestors had met together to oppose the white supremacist gathering, parading in confederation while chanting ‘Black Lives Matter!’. “It was just terrifying”, said Thomas Pilnik, who lived in Charlottesville for 5 years captured the scene on video, “I remember people flying into me, telling me to run and get out of the way and watching people fly like they were just bowling pins”. He described the attack as a ‘beautiful moment ripped away from us’. Videos show the vehicle pushing through a group of activists at a high speed, running over those who have fallen, as bystanders are grabbing others out of the way as fast as they possibly could. On multiple sources, reports announced this as ‘domestic terrorism’.
These are just a few of the thousand acts of violence that occur on a daily basis within countries, usually targeted towards a highly populated area by extremists, people who have acted out their hatred and bigotry through violence and mass-murders. Is this really where we should be today? Did our people who went down in history fight for change and the unification of races, only for us to be brought upon the same fate they suffered through decades ago? It’s devastating, the death tolls that occur annually due to the shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence driven by hostility and revulsion. If that is what our world has come to today, the millions of people, hours, dollars, and lives went to waste trying to make change for good.
It has been revealed by current news that this attack was rehearsed and stages by Jussie Smollet himself. According to CNN, he payed the 2 suspects prior to the orchestrated attack. No sources have confirmed the reason for Smollett’s actions, but the actor has denied any claims pertaining to staging the attack. A police source told CNN that the attackers had previous connections with Smollett, but no further details were provided. Meanwhile, the actor expressed his irritation in not being believed as he explained in an interview: “It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” he continues in frustration, explaining how this “says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now”.
If what sources are claiming are to be true, this will have a huge impact on future victims of racism, because people might have a hard time believing if any attack is staged or not. Jussie Smollett was a huge role model for the LGBTQ+ community, and of course people of colour. The setback that these people might be feeling truly cannot be expressed in words. Jussie Smollett’s current sentence has not been confirmed, but Express has predicted that he is to face 1 to 3 years of jail time if found guilty.
- “Viola Davis on Instagram: ‘OMG!! THIS Is Why the LGBTQ Community Continue to Fight to Be Seen and PROTECTED against Hate! We ALL Have to Take This Racist and…”.” Instagram, www.instagram.com/p/BtOqYp5AkjQ/.
- Sayers, Devon M. “Virginia Governor to White Nationalists: ‘Go Home … Shame on You’.” CNN, Cable News Network, 13 Aug. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-white-nationalists-rally/index.html.
- Young, Alex, et al. “Police Release Jussie Smollett Attack Suspects without Charges.” Consequence of Sound, Consequence of Sound, 16 Feb. 2019, consequenceofsound.net/2019/02/jussie-smollett-suspects-released/.