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Equality Far Right Opinions Protest Racism US Politics USA Violence

When “suspicion” is violence

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The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world w. 655 incarcerated pr. 100k citizens – when broken down by ethnicity are however even more shocking as amongst the white population the rate is 450 per 100k while among the black population the rate is 2306 per 100k.

By these stats, black Americans are more than five times more likely to be incarcerated than white Americans. The systemic racism here should be visible for all to see.

There are some key factors behind these numbers, all of which are building on structural racism:

1. Direct racism from the police who are way more likely to even just stop black people

2. Direct racism in the courts, judges and jurys that are way more likely to sentence, and more harshly sentence black people.

3. Social inequality based on racism, giving people fewer options and opportunities – upwards social mobility is close to impossible even for white Americans, and racism ingrained in the people makes it even harder for minorities who often are subjected both to overt hate and to less visible “suspicion”.

This less visible “suspicion” is a deeply rooted issue with severe consequences, making it harder for black Americans, and minorities everywhere to get a decent job, a decent education, a new apartment – or walking down the street without getting stopped and frisked, or even killed.

Most people don’t define themselves as racists, most people don’t become skinheads, most people don’t beat up people, most people want to be good guys – yet a lot of people who think they’re the “good guys” still embody this “suspicion”.

This form of racism is part of a structure violently oppressing minorities.

This is the form of violence that has justified the imbalance in the incarceration-rates, that for centuries have been embodied by policy and culture telling the masses what to believe about people – this is the form of violence that is used to justify police brutality.

Until we’re done with this less visible form of racism we’re not done with racism and the structures that support the violent oppression, the murders, the mass incarceration, the enslavement, the discrimination of minorities.

  • Bjørn Ihler is the founding Editor in Chief of Activism Academy and co-founder of The Khalifa-Ihler Institute, the organization behind the academy. Ihler has a long track record as a contributor to multiple international publications and is a well renowned activist working among others with the Kofi Annan Foundation to counter violent extremism.