Some people believe that with the end of slavery came the end of widespread and rampant racism. That belief is sadly far from the truth. Abolishing slavery was just the first step, but even 150 years later, we still have a lot to fight for. Thankfully people all over the world recognize that we have to take action in order to end the systematic racism that affects so many people every single day. We have a long way to go, but with help from everyone, we can creep slowly towards total equality. Here are a bunch of civil rights and equality standards that we are still fighting for today.
“Black lives matter” might just be a hashtag for some, but for others, it signals the beginning of a new era. Police brutality and systematic racism have been around since the beginning of our country, but it seemed as though for a long time only those affected by it were aware of it. #Blacklivesmatter helps show just how powerful social media can be when it comes to educating others about social issues as well as organizing groups to come together to ignite and inspire change.
Body Cams For Police
One thing that we’re fighting for today is that all police officers be required to wear body cameras. When situations involving police brutality happen, it’s always the police who have the last say in what actually happened. Having the cops wear the body cams can help in showing the situation’s true events. But unfortunately, many cops have been turning their cameras off, against direct orders and laws in their home state.
End Broken Window Policing
Broken Window Policing is a term that refers to the focus on policing minor crimes and activities. When someone breaks the law in a minor way, such as sleeping in a park, possessing a small amount of drugs, or just looking “suspicious,” police still might use excessive force. In 2014, over 250 people were killed by police for participating in these non-threatening crimes. Though they might still be breaking the law, they need help in other ways… and not a bullet in their body.
Putting Civilian Oversight In Place
When you run into a criminal, you call the cops. But if the cop is a criminal, who do you call? Unfortunately, you still have to call the police. This is a problem, as many times police officers can have friends who help lessen the punishment of crimes they may commit. Instead, we’re fighting to establish an all-civilian oversight structure to help end this biased punishment.
End Use Of Excessive Force
When an officer feels threatened for their life, they have every right to try to protect themselves and the people around them. But all too often, police officers pull out guns in situations that actually require lesser means of diffusing the situation. In 2014, over 250 unarmed people were killed by police. But luckily, civil rights activists are working hard to come up with a solution to find other ways to regulate the means in which police protect themselves.
Further Investigate Police Brutality
When it comes to investigating a situation of police brutality, there are a number of steps you have to go through until your case can actually be investigated. This makes it difficult for people to actually get their cases looked at, as a lot of people don’t have the legal or financial help it takes to follow through with their accusations.
Affirmative Action In Politics
When you have a government made up of predominantly white males, you’re going to have some biased judgment in certain laws that pass. White males make up only 1/3 of the population, but they exceed over half of the makeup of government officials. Who we have in office should reflect who we have living in the community in order to bring more attention to racial and gendered issues.
One thing that would seriously help prevent police brutality in the first place would be to put officers in training through a better program. Right now, officers in training spend 58 hours learning to how to shoot guns, but only eight hours learning to de-escalate a variety of situations. That is a seriously disturbing imbalance.
End For Profit Policing
When you make money based on how many people you arrest, you are probably going to be arresting more people than necessary in order to keep getting paid. Police officers often have quotas that they have to meet as well for certain types of arrests, so oftentimes people get serious charges for crimes that they might have gotten off for in other situations.
End The Militarization Of Police
As previously stated, police don’t go through proper training all the time. This often results in them mishandling certain equipment and going through other situations in ways outside of normal protocol. Civil rights activists are working hard to end the federal government’s practice of giving military weapons to untrained police departments.
Treat Addiction And Mental Health
When people break the law, they definitely deserve to be punished. But sometimes, punishment isn’t the best solution. This is especially true for drug addicts. Often, when someone is caught with drugs, they’re sent to jail or prison. Drugs are still available in these situations due to inter-prison trading. What some people really need is treatment programs so they don’t find themselves back behind bars. This holds true for those with mental health issues as well.
Whether or not you think smoking marijuana is a good thing, surely you have to believe that it’s not right for some people to sit behind bars for years and years just for having a joint in their pocket. And yet, many people still have been in prison for up to eight years just for having two joints in the pocket of their jeans. Luckily, many government officials know that this is unjust, and we’re getting closer to the decriminalization of marijuana every day.
This goes along with body cameras, but one thing that needs to be done is that we collect more data about who police are actually policing. Often, they do happen to have a racial biased towards African Americans, but until we start keeping track of every stop and frisk, we don’t have much other proof that police are targeting people of color. If you do random searches on anyone, there’s a good chance you might find something illegal. However, police target African Americans, resulting in more people of color being put behind bars.
When the police commit crimes, don’t they deserve to be punished as much as a regular civilian who might commit the same crime? When a police officer shoots an unarmed African American, they are put on paid leave. If an African American gets caught with a gram of weed, they could face time in prison. There needs to be a reform to this unjust criminal system.
Change The Way The Media Writes
Remember Brock Turner? When he was convicted of raping a woman behind a dumpster, he was labeled in the media as “The Stanford Swimmer.” When an innocent African American gets shot, while they’re unarmed, their mugshot from 20 years ago is used in the media. This racist reporting has a pretty negative impact on society’s view of people of color, but thankfully, some publications are finally realizing this and changing the way they write.
Investments In Education
We invest more money in prisons than we do schools. Classrooms are closing every day while prison cells are opening. How do we expect to raise an educated society when we’re more concerned with making money from prisoners? There needs to be more of an emphasis on education than criminalization in this country.
Once someone is put in prison, they can lose everything. What we need are programs in prison and additional programs available for criminals after they get out. When we take away a person’s rights and financials, they often end up back in jail. Instead, we need education and housing for those who were put in prison to help ensure they never go back.
More Community Influence
There are certain laws that we just can’t control, even in our democratic society. Don’t you think that policies affecting an entire city should be decided by more than just a couple white guys? Not only is this important, but we need a better way to give and receive feedback about police as well. Luckily, civil rights activists are working hard to change the way our government rules.
End For-Profit Prisons
Prisons are obviously a huge issue in our country, especially prisons that exist solely to gain a profit. When you run a prison like a business, you have people working harder to maintain a large population of incarcerated individuals, as that results in more income. This also means cutting costs to save money and cutting costs results in lower-quality living situations in an already horrendous situation.
Getting People To Understand
All of these things that people are fighting for every day are great, but nothing will truly change until we get everyone to understand the issues in our country. Many times, people like to pretend there aren’t problems when there are actually many of them. The best way to better your community when you don’t know how is to listen to others and find understanding and compassion for humans from all over.