Black Americans are gathering momentum once more against the perpetual injustice faced by their communities despite over 50 years of supposed equality

We frequently commend the efforts and bravery of those in the Civil Rights Movement. It has conceived and given the world some of the greatest examples of peace and admirable humanity in recollected time. But history and its success have yet to prevail in America; a country and society that so desperately needs to change.

Many relegate the black rights movement to the decade-old days of Rosa Park and Malcolm X. Yet the same fire for equality still brightly burns throughout many African-American communities today. The problem now isn’t a case of battling segregation within schools, boycotting the buses or staging restaurant sit-ins, but something much more destructive, a silent, impenetrable injustice that has never been addressed and a muffled cry for help that until now, has never been heard. It has snuck into American society, or arguably never went away, since the proclamation of equality in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and now the descendants from Martin Luther King’s community are finding themselves fighting for equality once again.

I have recently moved to the United States, California in fact, and despite it probably being America’s most diverse and liberal state, it still emits a considerable essence of the modern-day racial struggle that is plaguing America. Like many of my articles, this one came about from an experience; an experience of the very force that is finally being projected onto the world stage and unapologetically sweeping its way towards dismantling the destructive institution of American inequality.

Founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966, Oakland, California, played home to the formation of the militant group The Black Panthers. These political activist roots are still very much present in the streets of Oakland today. I attended a festival that takes place on the first Friday of every month, where the streets harbour weekend festivities complete with local businesses, artists, and restaurants. Yet not even the eclectic array of creative talent, nor the enticing perfume of chicken wings that line the streets can hijack your senses from something bigger, greater, something more profound that is occurring. One cannot ignore the much darker side of reality the community is faced with: the sinister shadow of racial inequality that hangs over them and the arduous battle they are refusing to back down from until utter equality is achieved.

There, on a stage stood musicians, singers and rappers lyrically – and incredibly movingly – reciting the issues young black Americans in their community and all across the country are facing. Brothers, fathers, sisters, friends; all being mercilessly incarcerated into the cyclical machine of American injustice. It was so profound that I couldn’t work out whether it was awe-inspiriting that it was happening, or harrowing that it was having to be done again.

Over the past year, my social media page has been home to a growing number of viral videos, photos and campaigns showcasing the prejudice facing black Americans in today’s society. From unwarranted police shootings, to unexplained arrests that have led to even more unexplained deaths – the most recent case of Sandra Bland coming to mind – today’s African-American community is facing a modern-day crisis of inequality that sees more black American men confined within the legal system than there were black slaves in the year of emancipation in 1850. This statistic unimpeachably echoes the discrimination that has trickled down over the decades and tightly woven itself into the DNA of American society.

It has formed a new Jim-Crow-like era, where what it means to be black is what it means to be visibly and futilely inferior – again.

Such widespread injustices have left many asking, if black people can be this largely misrepresented and face this great level of prejudice after over 50 years of legal civil equality – and, not to mention having the President elect as a black male. Will there ever be a sense of equality for black Americans?

Much of the racial disparity waged on communities of colour stems from the governmental war on drugs. Famously launched by President Richard Nixon back in 1971, America has had a long and tempestuous relationship with drugs. Tackled in waves throughout each presidency, it was George W. Bush who, instead of prevention through means of education and rehabilitation, ploughed more money than ever before into attacking and punishing non-violent drug-related crimes. This move saw the beginning of a period otherwise known as the ‘mass incarceration’ of African-Americans. Prisons became overcrowded, communities were torn apart and families completely destabilised by the inescapable fact that black American males were 7.7 times more likely to be incarcerated than white males. A truth that still prevails today in the Bureau of Justice Statistics where one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. They may be no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than their white counterparts, but black American men, and overall the black American community, has faced unprecedented levels of damage from the war on petty drug use.

Everywhere I look there is an uprising, an act of defiance, a poster, even street preachers, all of whom carry a supreme air of finality with their message. This is it and enough is enough. On the 24th of October, the streets of New York will host the largest demonstration on this issue to date. Titled ‘The October Uprising’, like-minded Americans from all ethnic communities will march the streets demanding an end to the racial prejudice, which since 2005, has seen over 1,000 people a year killed by police, and less than 25 of those suspected of committing a murder facing conviction.

Yet despite these stomach-turning statistics from questionably the most influential country in the world, the defiance that props up the community I witnessed in Oakland, and many others like it across America, is something to be taken, learnt from and admired in all this inexcusable chaos. These communities are battling their way through a bureaucratic, deep-rooted fog that is thick and unyielding, yet refusing to retire until complete racial parity is achieved.

America is having a moment, and it’s time the people at the top and the rest of the world wakes up to witness it.

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