America to draw a line between “borrowing” and exploitation.

America
is often portrayed to be a place where everyone is free, and every man and
woman is considered equal. However, this is not always the case depending on whom
you are talking. Approximately 152 years ago, slavery in the United States
ended. After slavery ended, racism did not unfortunately. Segregation followed
but it ended in 1954. This led up to the Civil Rights Movement which started
when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Even after the Civil Rights Act was placed into action, black Americans still
dealt with an overwhelming amount of discrimination. Being black in America is
like having a target on your back: being stolen from, and constantly dehumanized.

            To begin, allow me to introduce myself
my name is Alexander Howard. I am a senator and I represent the state New
Hampshire. A lawyer by trade, I started working in public services as an
advocate for Black Lives Matter after
the recent incidents of police brutality targeting young black men like Trayvon
Martin, Mike Brown, and Philando Castile. Growing up in a suburban neighborhood,
I was often times the only black child that was amongst my peers. As I grew
older I started to realize that I was getting disciplined at school and around
the neighborhood exceptionally, for the same shenanigans my white counterparts partook
in. There is a disproportionate impact of school suspension and expulsion on
black students in southern states. 1.2 million black students that attend
public schools from K-12 are suspended in one academic year nationally, fifty
five percent of those suspensions happen in thirteen southern states. Also,
southern school districts are culpable for fifty percent of black student
expulsions attending public school in the United States.

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            In addition to being targeted from a
young age, black Americans also have to face the sad reality of cultural
appropriation, and black ideas being stolen to be marketed on. One of the most
overlooked forms of racism is cultural appropriation, because it is often hard
to draw a line between “borrowing” and exploitation. The fashion industry is an
example of a business that banks off the ideas and creativity of black Americans.
What makes cultural appropriation so dangerous is that once you take an aspect
of a specific culture and label it “trendy” people will only acknowledge how the
“boxer braids” make them look “cool” without the appropriate recognition of the
culture. This, however, is a problem because acts like this eliminate the
people who live the culture for profit and temporary fads. For example, imagine
buying a jellabiya (  a traditional Egyptian
garment worn by both genders ) from Forever 21 or an Egyptian American owned
business, this can still be seen as cultural appropriation but it is morally
better to benefit the cultural you are taking from rather than a white-owned
business.

            Another disadvantage of being black
in America is how frequently black Americans are dehumanized. The dehumanization
of black people has been happening for centuries, for example, comparing black
people to apes to make them seem less than human and more uncivilized. One of
the most subtle and common ways non-black people dehumanize African Americans
are in the form of fetishizing. The myth that black men are “better” in bed
than our white counterparts is flattering but also very damaging. This causes
people to only look at black men as sexually aggressive predators and not as
humans. We have heard many stories of young white women who have racist parents
that date a black man when her parents find out she claims that he raped her,
thus leading the young black man to be arrested or lynched. Also, not only do
black Americans face discrimination in the form of fetishizing but also in the
work place. Black Americans with “ethnic” names tend to have their applications
overlooked by businesses that are prejudiced, and the black Americans that do
make it into big corporations have a hard time moving up in the business
because of their racial identity. This makes it hard for hardworking black
Americans to make a good living and better their lives while also making it
seem impossible for black Americans to be successful which can be damaging for
black youth. For example, I had a friend named Titobi-olowombi-palomi Williams
who was born in America, but her parents are native to Nigeria. Titobi
graduated from high school as valedictorian, and attend college at Princeton. After
college, she went on to be a lawyer, but when it was time to apply to a law
firm Titobi was heartbroken to find out that her applications were not taken
seriously due to preconceived notions about individuals with ethnic names.

            While the thirteenth amendment ended
slavery, black Americans are still not treated as equal citizens. African
Americans are often times racially targeted based on racial identity. For
example, black students that attend public schools in southern states are
getting expelled and suspended at disproportionate rates. Also, black Americans
suffer from white-owned business stealing ideas and aspects of black culture to
capitalize off of and make a profit. The dehumanization of black Americans tends
to occur in many different ways one of them being fetishizing black body’s,
which is detrimental of how people view black people. Being black in America is
like having a target on your back: being stolen from, and constantly dehumanized.

America
has a racist past, but if we all come together we can have a progressive
future.