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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Why is there still racism in America today? Well, let’s see. It all comes down to power, privilege and the fact that most of the white population in American thinks that they should not have to share anything with the Black population because they are beneath them in every way. Let’s dive deep into this very question…..it all started with slavery. 

Slavery was  America’s “original sin.” Neither the framers of the U.S. Constitution or the American Civil War resolved this conflict. It simply changed the form of it and continued the generational enslavement of an entire group of American society. The Civil War fought against racism, and everyone’s souls soared with pride and hope when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he had a dream. But we were and still are very far from “a promised land.” The fact that it took America 144 years after the Civil War to elect the first Black president just tells us that we have to grow so much more.

The end of the Civil War in 1865 led to the rise of segregation: the idea that White privilege is right and Black people should be treated as second-class citizens. Segregation led to a plethora of Supreme Court cases. Plessy v. Ferguson was a U.S Supreme Court case that took place in 1896 that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public spaces as long as the spaces were equal in quality—a doctrine that became known as “separate but equal.” Brown v. Board of Education was another landmark Supreme Court case that took place from 1952-1954. This case ruled that racial segregation was unconstitutional in public schools, even if those segregated schools were otherwise equal in quality.

say their names black lives matter sign
Photo by Frankie Cordoba from Unsplash
The fact that it took this country 89 years to declare racial segregation unconstitutional and another 55 years after that to elect the first Black president says so much about how much racism there was in our country and still is in our country. I believe that after the Civil War led to segregation, America has just been on the downward spiral, and it will not get any better unless we actively choose to change it. 

That is our unfortunate legacy as Americans, and in many ways, the most hateful remnants of slavery still exist today in the form of systemic racism that is engrained in our brains. The reality of this history has been showing its evil head during 2020. The killings of George FloydAhmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor started the Black Lives Matter movement, to the countless untold acts of racism that take place every day across America. The suspicious deaths in police custody followed usually by the exoneration of officers involved shows that not only does this country allow this behavior, but it also condones and encourages this behavior. The way we have and still do, treat Black people in America is absolutely disgusting. The very nature of how we want to be looked at as a country is at stake, and we all have a deep responsibility to be a part of the solution. 

Tara is a junior HPEX health science major at Virginia Commonwealth University. She likes hanging out with friends and family, trying out new places to eat and scrolling through dog videos in her free time.
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