Updated: Feb 13
In the midst of Black History Month, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day just a few weeks ago, Americans are reminded every year of the brutal struggles that African Americans and people of color endured for hundreds of years. Although it may feel like the civil rights movement happened long ago, it has not even been 100 years since the movement first began. The organized effort to end racial discriminaton of black Americans began in the late 1940s.
The nation has come far since the end of the movement in 1968, with the passing of the Fair Housing Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, the end of the civil rights movement did not signify the immediate end of racism and hate towards African Americans and other minorities in America.
Racism in the U.S. today cannot be denied more or less than before, especially when the country currently has ongoing issues, such as: police brutality of black men (and women), mass
incarceration of people of color, and racial profiling. To top it off, it is hard to get the country to
feel unified when it has a president in the White House that is famous for saying controversial
and problematic remarks about Latinos and African Americans. Research has shown that since
the 2016 election, Trump has influenced racism in the country and also benefited politically
from it. Evidence found that Trump's campaign mostly appealed to white people who deny the
existence of racism. Since Trump’s time in office, hate crimes in the country,
specifically in counties that strongly supported Trump during the election, have increased. As a
result, it can feel as if the U.S. is divided and torn between those who love and support trump and those who want him out of the White House as soon as possible. So what can be done by
schools, communities, and individuals to help spread love instead of hate?
An important piece of this complex puzzle is diversity. It is very common to find white people
feeling uncomfortable and confused when talking about race and racism in America. The truth
of the matter is, many white Americans have never had encounters in which they were racially
profiled or discriminated against because of their skin. As a result, they don’t know what it is like to live in America as a person of color and the obstacles that come with it. Yet, white people are not the only ones who may feel uncomfortable discussing the topic. Some people of color prefer to avoid talking about race issues rather than confront their white counterparts because they are afraid they may be viewed as aggressive or mean. This is why diversity is crucial. When people are exposed to a diverse environment they are capable of getting along with all types of people, they may feel more connected to the world around them, and they may become smarter, according to evidence.
Many schools and parents have started taking the positive effects of diversity more seriously. Some parents have started sending their kids to public schools that celebrate diversity in hopes that it will help them learn how to live in a diverse society - a real world skill that is valuable today. Schools and universities, like Temple, make diversity a top priority. 44% of Temple students are minorities/students of color, which is almost half the student body. As the school is committed to building a “more culturally aware campus community,” Temple’s IDEAL (Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership) is available to students and faculty to have a safe space to discuss diversity issues. Not only is it important that people surround themselves with others of different backgrounds, but it is crucial that people speak up when they see acts of racism and discrimination occurring. Too often are people bystanders in these types of situations. In order to shine more light on racism, Americans have to work together to address it when they see it.
The civil rights movement may have pushed for equality for blacks, but unfortunately, racism did not cease to exist after the movement ended 52 years ago. As MLK once said, "the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Racism is not a problem that can be solved in a matter of a few days or a few weeks; it is a problem that needs the collaboration of every American. Whether it be voting in the upcoming election, standing up for victims of racism, or simply talking about the issues going on in the country, everyone has a part to play.