The United States was built upon the idea of equality, “... that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Our nation has been dragging along with the exact opposite ideal. The United States is supposed to be home to equal opportunity for all, but the inequality in our nation diminishes that hope. Inequality has always been here, so why do we talk about our country on a pedestal.
Racism is one of the most prominent inequality issues in our nation, right now. Racism has gone on for a very long time. Africans arrived to our country as slaves and were stripped of their names, and identities, by white masters. They were forced to “christianize,” even though our country was based on freedoms. They were whipped, beaten, and tortured by their masters, as if they weren’t even human beings at all. Our country, “the home of the free,” treated-- and still treats-- African Americans as animals. We treat them like they shouldn’t have the same rights as we do. The fourteenth Amendment states that “no state shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Our constitution speaks of equality, but African Americans started out being seen as unequal to whites, and still do.
Islamophobia is a word used for the hostility toward Islam and Muslim in the United States, shown through prejudice, harassment, and discrimination. A phobia is an “extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.” The fact that there is a word that connects Islam to fear and dislike is bizarre, but our nation created it. Muslims have been victim to FBI interviews, wiretapping, phone surveillance, and racial profiling. Our country has linked Islam and Muslims to terrorism and created fear that fuels our country’s racism.
Is racism any different today? When Obama was elected, he brought hope to African Americans. He ended his presidency creating a racial turmoil, so that maybe, racism in our country could get better. Our next president, Donald Trump, built his campaign on racism. Trump’s advisors and cabinet members have histories of racial discrimination. His chief strategist was an executive chairman of a news site that publishes openly racist writing. His national security advisor has made anti-Muslim comments, and is highly supportive of banning Muslim immigration. How do you think Muslims feel knowing that the officer, whose job is to help keep our country safe, fully supports the idea that they are all terrorists? Trump’s treasury secretary has been accused of profiting off of racial discrimination, in the past. As the chief financial officer, doesn’t it sound wrong for him to have this job when he has been accused of profiting off of racism? What if that is still happening to this day? Does Trump pick his cabinet members because of their history of racism?
Trump created a travel ban that targeted mostly Muslims. The fear of Muslims and Islam, defined as islamophobia, has been going on for centuries. Trump claimed the ban would be for national security, but many believe it was intended to persecute a certain religion. Trump has been known to push fear and prejudice, against different races, on Americans. Trump uses his African American and Muslim supporters as tokens to disbar allegations that he is racist. He has added to the racism that is going on in our country, and still continues to use oppressed races for his gain. Our president is supposed to be an honorable person who we can look up to, but he makes it seem like being racist and seeing others as unequal is okay. Many Americans follow in Trump’s footsteps because he allows them to do so. Our country boasts about being the home of equality, but our own president enables inequality.
I am white and African American, but many people don’t know that I am fifty percent African American. People have said the ‘n’ word, made jokes about African Americans, and talk about them as they were inferior because they didn’t know they were talking about my race. People don’t think about the things that come out of their mouths and how what they say affects people. Hearing people say these things about African Americans, without acknowledging the past realities they faced, shows how people in our country really are.
Many Americans believe they are not welcome in their own county. We say our country is equal, when many of us don’t feel that way. Our country's foundation has been rapidly broken by the weight of inequality. Our country has never worked as it was intended to. Our country is supposed to always feel like our home, no matter where we are. How can we feel at home when people are scared of being discriminated against by their own neighbors? We are not as free and equal as we like to say we are. Our nation has always been like this, but is it getting better or worse?