This is in response to Mark Walker’s column ‘This is what democracy looks like.’
African Americans were granted equality rights as individuals under the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For close to 90 years after, African Americans endured systematic violence, racial segregation and social discrimination until the civil rights movement manifested and allowed them to assert their rights to be recognized as human beings. So Mark Walker’s assertion that the “system” grants and guarantees rights to minorities is a fallacy. People fought and died to be recognized as human beings under a oppressive system. They had to assert themselves as human beings; they had to force the system to change.
Near the end of his life, Martin Luther King began to understand that without economic equality there can be no political or social equality within the system. America has a black President, but in America, African Americans as a minority make up about 39 per cent of the prison population, they have a better chance of going to prison than to school. African Americans also suffer from higher rates of poverty, homicide and unemployment, and these problems can be directly correlated to economic conditions and inequality.
So when Mark Walker talks about minority rights under the present system, he’s not talking about gender, race or sexual orientation. He’s talking about the rights of the economic minority, the Weyerhaeusers, Wal-Marts, MacDonalds, Boeings and Exxon Mobiles of the world to turn a profit at the expense of people, the natural world and future generations, ie. the majority, sounds kind of totalitarian to me.
But this is how the political and judicial systems were setup in U.S.; to favour those with money, to favour the powerful. This is why you have Americans from all walks of life occupying Wall Street, the very heart of global power and privilege. People have had enough. People like Scott Olson, an Iraqi war veteran, who was shot in the head with a rubber police bullet for demonstrating against economic inequality in Oakland. This battle, this thread goes all the way back to the founding of the U.S.A. and then some. Rights and laws are not natural or granted by God or a “system”, they are fought and paid for with human courage, blood and sacrifice. History is filled with these examples, the Occupy Movement being the latest manifestation.