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The United States is one of the greatest countries in the world, but it’s not perfect. Help me make it better. I’m raising money to support the ACLU and all the wonderful work they do in advocating for Human Rights.

 

 

 

 

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My name is Mayson Harris and as part of my 9th-grade Literature class, I was tasked with picking what I felt was the biggest Human Rights issue of our time, writing a research paper about that issue, and completing a service project to help fix the problem. This website and fundraiser for the ACLU are the results of my service project.

In supporting the ACLU, I hope to aide in the fight against racial inequality. The ACLU is dedicated to fighting human rights infringements. The organization has many different issues that they focus on, and their goal is to help the world become a better place. Please help me help the ACLU.

Equality

by

Mayson Harris

At the core of our country is the basic issue of discrimination based on something as simple as skin color. Expanding from that comes the discrimination against those with no money, little education, poor housing, and poor health. The most basic rights are being denied of certain groups based purely on outward appearance. The biggest human rights issue of our time is the violation against equality, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Governments worldwide, including the United States government, discriminate against their own citizens. Some base it on skin color, others sexuality, gender, or creed. All over the world poor people are being denied of rights, especially the basic human right of equality. Even in a state as advanced as California, poor people are being discriminated against by the criminal justice system. Human Rights Watch declares, “Tens of thousands of people arrested for a wide range of crimes spend time locked up in jail because they do not post bail… In California, the majority of county jail prisoners have not been sentenced, but are serving time because they are unable to pay for pretrial release.” (Goldman). The system is designed to disadvantage poor people. Not only is it a human rights violation, but a violation the 6th amendment, the right to a fair and speedy trial.  California is keeping poor people in prisons, without trial, simply because they cannot post bail. The very government that should protect and enforce these rights is violating them. The article continues, “Poor and middle-income people, on the other hand, face a dilemma. For some, the dilemma is easily, if unhappily, resolved, because they simply have no money or chance of obtaining enough money to bail out. Others must decide: stay in jail until the case is resolved, often by an early guilty plea, or incur crushing debt.” (Goldman). Even if a poor person could post bail, they would be almost penniless afterwards, completely eliminating means to get food or housing, other basic human rights. Citizens cannot trust their own government to protect their rights.

The violation of equality creates damaging stereotypes which cause fear and emotional issues in oppressed groups. The discrimination caused by this creates hyper-aggression in black  youth when there is little representation or pride surrounding them. The same cannot be said for white youth because there is clear, imbalanced white representation across all media platforms.   A study on the effects of racism on children claims, “Regression analyses revealed that personal racial discrimination was positively associated with anger for youth reporting low cultural pride reinforcement, and positively associated with depressive symptoms for youth reporting low cultural alertness to discrimination…”(Saleem and Lambert 1385-1396). This proves that when discrimination is present there are negative mental health effects. This anger feeds into the damaging stereotype that black people are angry and violent which continues the cycle of these backwards ideals being pushed onto young people. Not only does the discrimination cause mental health and emotional issues, but physical health issues. Harvard professor, David Williams, describes the adverse effects of racism on one’s health,

The research indicates it is not just the big experiences of discrimination, like being passed over for a job or not getting a promotion that someone felt they might have been entitled to. But the day-to-day little indignities affect health: being treated with less courtesy than others, being treated with less respect than others, receiving poorer service at restaurants or stores. Research finds that persons who score high on those kinds of experiences, if you follow them over time, you see more rapid development of coronary heart disease. Research finds that pregnant women who report high levels of discrimination give birth to babies who are lower in birth weight. (Martin).

People who consistently experience discrimination are at a greater risk of developing potentially fatal illnesses.  This human rights violation not only makes life harder emotionally, but is detrimental to the health of those who experience it.

From the violation of equality comes profiling and stereotyping which leads to violence. While police brutality has always been an issue, recent instances of it have gotten a lot of attention on social media. A movement called Black Lives Matter came about as a result. While the protests are mostly peaceful and for a good cause, the ideals of it are still lost on some. The United States own leaders are reinforcing the minorities vs. police attitudes: “As a candidate, US President Donald Trump referred to Black Lives Matter as having “ignited” violence against police, and promised his attorney general would investigate them. Among his first acts as president was to declare he would end the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.” (Raphling). At the same time President Donald Trump called the white supremacists of the Charlottesville protest “very fine people”. The United States government has misconstrued activism and extremism within minority groups. From the most powerful man in the country to small county police departments, the threat to minorities, especially black men, is blatant and cannot be ignored or excused. Paul Butler of Washington post states, “African Americans, mostly male and poor, who were stopped and frisked, strip-searched, sexually assaulted, set up, beaten, or killed for the tragic reason that racist cops didn’t like them, or the even more tragic reason that these kinds of humiliations are ordained by U.S. law and policy.” (Butler).  People are being killed just because their skin is a different color. A preconceived notion that a black man might be dangerous is the reason he was denied the right to live. This almost automatic profiling causes violence.

The right to equality is supposed to be guaranteed to all people, no matter what they look like or how much money they have. Every single human being deserves the opportunity to be treated equally. All discrimination can do is breed more hate.

Thank you so much for your support.

Works Cited

Butler, Paul. “If You’re a Black Man, Expect Police Brutality under U.S. Law and Policy.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 Oct. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/if-youre-a-black-man-expect-police-brutality-under-us-law-and-policy/2017/10/19/26663518-b28a-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html?utm_term=.85242494999a.

“FBI Seems to Conflate Activism with Extremism.” Human Rights Watch, 26 Oct. 2017, www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/24/intelligence-assessment-resurrects-fears-us-government-abuses.

Martin, Michel. “Racism Is Literally Bad For Your Health.” NPR, NPR, 28 Oct. 2017, www.npr.org/2017/10/28/560444290/racism-is-literally-bad-for-your-health.

“‘Not in It for Justice.’” Human Rights Watch, 6 June 2017, www.hrw.org/report/2017/04/11/not-it-justice/how-californias-pretrial-detention-and-bail-system-unfairly.

Saleem, Farzana T., and Sharon F. Lambert. “Differential Effects of Racial Socialization Messages for African American Adolescents: Personal Versus Institutional Racial Discrimination.” Journal of Child & Family Studies, 10 Dec. 2016, pp. 1385–1396. Galileo, eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=bc2b63aa-b7dc-4d88-9cb8-b582c54feba2%40sessionmgr102.