Discrimination Against Blacks In The United States

Pritam K. Rohila

For generations, African-Americans have endured shameful humiliation, deprivation and victimization, in the United States. Even though the Jim Crow era has formally ended, slavery is abolished and laws promising them equality have been enacted, but real equality still escapes them. They are still treated not equally human, because they are “not equally white”. 

“A melting pot”, which the United States is reputed to be, has failed to weld African-Americans with the rest of the American society. They still are marginalized and discriminated against.

According to a CBS poll conducted between May 29 and June 2, 2020, optimism of people about ending discrimination against African-Americans, has decreased 15 percentage points since 2015 and 23 percentage points since 2014. It is almost back to the point where it was after 1992 Los Angeles riots (

Further, Labor Department’s June 5 report has pointed out that the unemployment rate, which had increased to 14.7% in April due to COVID-19 pandemic, increased in May to 16.8% among African-American workers, while it fell to 12.4% among their white counterparts ( What is more concerning is that it is happening, even when the black households have had historically lower wages, lower incomes, much less savings to fall back on, and significantly higher poverty rates.

Negative attitudes towards African-Americans are prevalent also in some U.S. police officers, despite some attempts to control them through their selection and training procedures. Consequently, as compared to white people, African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for drugs, even though they are not more likely to use or sell them (  And their number in prisons far exceeds their proportion in the general population.

Besides, getting killed by police is a leading cause of death for black males in America. And black males are 2.5 to 3.0 times more likely, than their white counterparts, to die during an encounter with the police, even though black people are only 14% of the U.S. population ((   

A 2019 study using verified data on police killings from 2013 to 2018 found that in their lifetime, out of every 100,000, one-hundred black males, compared to only 39 white males, were likely to be killed by police ( 

By one count, murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, on the last Memorial Day, was the 82nd killing of black males by police, in the United States, in the recent few months (

Hopefully recent public demonstrations will lead to meaningful changes in police departments as well as improvements in our society.

But defunding police, as demanded recently by some protestors, is not the solution to the problem of police violence against African-Americans.

Obviously not all police officers are bad people. As a brown-skinned immigrant from India, who has lived in Oregon and Washington for more than 50 years, and has travelled in 47 U.S. states, I can personally testify to this fact.  The few interactions I have had with police officers during all these years were quite pleasant experiences for me.

Anyway, better selection procedures can help screen out some potentially unfit individuals, and better training programs can tame others.  Also, like Camden, New Jersey, it would help if some of the money used for law enforcement is reallocated to programs, such as mental health resources and public education, as well as better police officer selection and training. These steps can help prevent or reduce the need for law enforcement.

Since attitudes of police officers are a reflection of those of the general public, change in the attitudes of the general population is also essential, which likely will be a long and difficult process. Still it is worth a try. In this regard ways to curb divisive politics and promote inclusive democracy can help. Also it would help if opportunities for pleasant interactions between white and black people are made available.

Finally, we must find equitable and effective solutions to deal with the widening income inequality, historic level of unemployment and increasing homelessness and hopelessness in the United States, which are pushing people to social unrest and to the brink of desperation, depression, and even suicide.

In this context, let us not forget the Preamble to the United States Constitution, which promises justice, domestic tranquility and general welfare to American people.

Dr. Pritam Kumar Rohila is a retired neuropsychologist and an active peacemaker, who enjoys writing, traveling, photography and gardening. He is associated with Association for Communal Harmony.

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Jul 9, 2020

Dr. Pritam Kumar Rohila

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