Who Will Survive In America?
Since the beginning of American history, racism has been rooted into our culture. You could make the argument that it's part of the culture of humanity since the beginning of history itself. However, something more unique to America is the systematic opression of black people.
Racism didn't die with slavery. After Lincoln freed the slaves with an executive order on January 1, 1863, the systematic opression of black Americans continued through not only segregation and Jim Crow laws, which kept them separate and unequal, but also redlining, lynching, and race riots.
Redlining in particular is an often-overlooked part of history, beginning with the National Housing Act of 1934, in which the Federal Housing Administration used price manipulation and division of neighboorhoods based on "security" and "desirability", while denying black Americans housing loans, in order to enforce a kind of soft segregation, which results in the heavily segregated ghettos and neighborhoods we see today. This was shortly followed by other public and private sector organizations to deny black American insurance, healthcare, or even access to supermarkets.
Though the practices of this era have declined dramatically, their effects are still felt today. Not only are black Americans disadvantaged economically, the attitudes of racism still flow through the businesses and government agencies run by people whose eyes are still clouded by racism. They are disproportionately imprisoned for drug charges due to the racism of police and a War on Drugs funded by the greed of private prisons. They're then put to work for profit in a chilling mirror of the slavery that we've supposedly put behind us.
Then, in the face of continued and increasing violence towards them from the police, those who are meant to protect, when they have the audacity to claim their lives matter, they are met with condescension and contempt by those who claim this is to the exlcusion of white people. This shows a misunderstanding of the message. Imagine a family seated at a table being served Thanksgiving dinner, but one person iss left without mashed potatoes. They speak up "hey, I should get some mashed potatoes," and are met with the response: "everyone should get mashed potatoes" as they continue to eat their complete meals. Black Lives Matter is an affirmation of a fact in the face of a world that tells them their life doesn't matter, a world where black Americans must always be on guard with the police because they feel like their life might be taken from them for no good reason, as they see it happen over and over. A world that says their life doesn't matter when they speak up about this injustice and are told to quiet down because it's not really a problem, after all, racism is over, there is no racial discrimination in America. This tells them they are more likely to be killed or imprisoned not due to prejudeice, but an inherent flaw in who they are, based on the color of their pigment.
We may never reach the day MLK dreamt of, a world where racial discrimination no longer exists, but we can sure as hell try.