The phrases, “liberty and justice for all,” have been recited by college youngsters throughout America since they had been written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. However for a lot of youngsters of colour, these phrases merely don’t ring true.
As we have a good time Juneteenth in lots of states throughout the nation, we have to decide tips on how to make these phrases apply to everybody in the USA, no matter race, colour or nationwide origin. On June 19, 1865, the Union Military lastly introduced Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation releasing the remaining slaves in Texas. Lincoln’s proclamation was really issued on September 22, 1862, nevertheless it took practically three years for the information to succeed in Texas.
However the finish of slavery was not the start of freedom for blacks in America. As soon as slavery ended, Black individuals had been topic to a sequence of Jim Crow laws. These legal guidelines had been designed to maintain Black individuals from succeeding socially, politically and economically. These legal guidelines had been bolstered by the Supreme Court docket’s 1896 determination in Plessy vs. Ferguson the place the courtroom dominated that separate however equal segregation of Black and white individuals was constitutional.
Underneath Jim Crow legal guidelines, African People had been disenfranchised by racial gerrymandering which diluted the Black vote throughout districts making it tough for Black individuals to consolidate votes and to elect particular candidates. Banks, actual property builders, and different establishments additionally participated within the redlining of Black neighborhoods. In redlined districts, loans and different investments inside these neighborhoods had been thought of dangerous and subsequently these communities of colour remained underfunded and underdeveloped.
In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court docket declared that segregation in public colleges was unconstitutional within the 1954 landmark determination in Brown vs Board of Education. Ten years later, a lot of the remaining Jim Crow legal guidelines had been successfully abolished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act one yr later in 1965.
However the story doesn’t finish there. Even after the abolishment of Jim Crow legal guidelines and even after the passage of landmark laws, the USA primarily remained a two-tiered system of liberty and justice. At this time, what’s left is a felony justice system the place Black and brown males are incarcerated at charges that far exceed their white counterparts. Slavery formally ended over 150 years in the past, and but a disproportionate variety of Black individuals stay at revenue ranges beneath the poverty line. And even when African People have tried to amass wealth and to realize the American dream, incidents just like the Tulsa Massacre in May 1921, and the Unite the Proper Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, remind us that racism and discrimination are removed from over in the USA.
The truth is, systemic or institutional racism permeates the very core of our social, political and financial programs. Though there are a lot of on the political proper who would deny the existence of systemic racism in the USA, this type of racism at the moment exists in all elements of society together with employment, housing, felony justice, healthcare, training.
For instance, communities of colour had been disproportionately impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic due to increased charges of pre-existing circumstances. One might simply argue that pre-existing circumstances like heart disease and diabetes are the direct results of lack of wholesome meals sources and satisfactory healthcare assets.
Systemic racism additionally permeates police departments throughout the USA. We’d like solely take a look at the capturing and killing of Black males, girls and kids by cops lately together with Eric Garner in New York Metropolis in 2014, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014, Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, Sandra Bland in Hempstead, Texas in 2015, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky in 2020, and naturally, the brutal homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2020. And the listing continues.
Systemic racism additionally permeates state legislatures throughout the nation. State legislatures had been emboldened by the 2013 landmark Supreme Court docket determination in Shelby County vs Holder which struck down a number of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This led the best way for state legislatures to additional erode the fitting to vote and to additional disenfranchise the Black vote.
Stricter identification necessities and different voter reforms in Florida, Texas, and Georgia have made it far harder to vote. For instance, in March 2021, Georgia enacted stricter voter identification necessities, restricted the distribution of meals and water, and decreased the variety of official poll packing containers. In a current press convention, President Joe Biden mentioned that these makes an attempt to restrict voting rights “makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.”
One has to wonder if there’ll ever be liberty and justice for all in the USA. The primary slave ship landed in Jamestown, Virginia in August 1619. 4 hundred years later, individuals of colour nonetheless expertise racism and inequalities. We might by no means change the best way some individuals really feel about individuals of colour, however we will battle for liberty and justice by supporting voting rights laws just like the For the People Act, also called HR 1. And with the assistance of Lawyer Basic Merrick Garland, who lately mentioned that the Justice Division will dramatically improve its concentrate on voter suppression, there may be hope that in the future there’ll really be liberty and justice for all.
Terri Austin is an legal professional and authorized analyst who has appeared on a lot of networks together with ABC Information, CBS Information, Court docket TV, Fox 11, Inside Version, and Legislation and Crime. She beforehand served as an Adjunct Professor at USC, Annenberg College of Journalism. Previous to that, she served in quite a few roles together with Chief Company Coverage Officer for S&P International, Chief Range Officer for AIG, Litigation Affiliate at Richards & O’Neil, and Assistant Counsel on the New York Metropolis Legislation Division. Ms. Austin holds a BA in political science from Grinnell School, a JD from Columbia College College of Legislation, and a MS diploma from the Columbia College of Journalism.