The Trials of the African Americans

By Bernensky Pierre

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Abstract

Issues of social injustice are still prevalent in the African American community. The purpose of this paper is to inform the audience of the study that will take place to bring a new revelation of the severity of problems an African American has to go through on a daily basis, and to convince the audience that race consciousness in America is playing a major role in the success of African Americans. The method of the study is a face-to-face interview with several people, trying to gain insight from other points of view on several racial issues. Questions like “Is there excessive race consciousness?” and “Do you believe that African Americans are being targeted?” will be used to poke the brain of the participants. This study will give the audience a variety of information from different backgrounds. So let’s begin.

 

The Trials of the African Americans

My brother and I are searching for my aunt’s car while we walk through the parking lot of Skylake Mall in Miami Gardens. Suddenly, a security guard pulls up next to us, informing us about complaints of two “black” guys looking into cars, meaning us. Are these people really concerned about their cars? Or are these people prejudice? There are many trials we humans, have to face. It doesn’t matter if one is black, white, or Hispanic; he or she is going to have to face some sort of adversity growing up. However, there are trials that human beings should not undergo, especially African Americans. When one talks about social injustice, it is difficult not to mention the words “black” or “African American”. America has allowed social injustice towards African Americans to remain prevalent. Social injustice gives people the right to judge African Americans based on negative stereotypes and racial profiling. Social injustice is something that should and can change. The government should eliminate negative stereotypes, prejudice, and racial profiling towards African Americans due to social injustice because the legislation branch has the power to do so.

According to Michael O. Church’s blog, “The Difference between Unfairness and Injustice, and Why It Matters”, “social injustice is an injustice due to humans increasing unfairness; an execrable subclass of unfairness” (Church, 2013). Humans are behind the word injustice; it has created and resulted to racial profiling and/or negative stereotypes that distort people’s perception of African Americans. More often than not, stereotypes and prejudices are attached to the African American image. As a result, “the impacts are loss of education and educational opportunities; negative psychological impact; increased criminalization of children often for conduct that does not threaten the safety of others; and promotion of anti-social behaviours” (OHRC).The notion that everyone is equally treated is wrong.

Black children are 18 times more likely to be sentenced as adults than white children, and make up nearly 60 percent of children in prisons, according to the APA. Black juvenile offenders are much more likely to be viewed as adults in juvenile detention proceedings than their white counterparts (Nesbit, 2015)

The belief that black children are 18 times more likely to be sentenced as adults than whites negates the opportunities an African American has, and more importantly, this belief gives off a negative psychological perception of African Americans. According to the Report, “New Story Looks at Media Bias Towards Black America”, “approximately 88 percent of white Americans have implicit racial bias against black people, with a racially homogeneous media industry, and the toxic environment that leads to media injustice is thrown into stark relief” (EURweb, 2015).These assumptions, accusations, and sometimes built-in racism, victimize the African Americans, and it has gone a bit too far. According to Nesbit’s article, “Institutional Racism Is Our Way of Life”, “blacks aren’t pulled over more frequently because they’re more prone to criminal behavior. They’re pulled over much more frequently because there is an ‘implicit racial association of black Americans with dangerous or aggressive behavior’ ” (Nesbit, 2015). As a result, names like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Monroe Bird, Eric Garner, Jonathan Farrell, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and many more were all deaths that were associated with black Americans with dangerous aggressive behavior. This leads to one of my questions that I will be asking the participants in my face to face interview. “Do you believe that African Americans are being targeted?”

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Now that we know that social injustice is a problem towards the African American community, we can assess the situation and create a solution. The legislation branch is known for creating laws and passing laws. The legislation branch has the power to stop social injustice from negating opportunities for the African Americans. In the past, the legislative branch has shown its power by abolishing inequality and unfairness against the African Americans.

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, using 72 ceremonial pens. Many dignitaries, including Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and several other national civil rights figures, attended the ceremony. This law banned racial discrimination in several areas, including hotels, restaurants, education, and other public accommodations. This landmark act also guaranteed equal job opportunities, fulfilling one major objective of the historic 1963 March on Washington. Many larger Southern businesses had already desegregated in response to sit-ins and other civil rights protests. But the Civil Rights Act of 1964 added important legal protections to these political and social developments (CRF).

The Civil Rights movement gives us a clear understanding of what the government, legislative branch, is capable of. But somehow African Americans are still being shortchanged; African Americans are still not getting equal opportunities due to stereotypes, prejudice, racial profiling and racism. So one must think: What can the government really do? I would like to enforce a rule to decrease the percentage of African American juveniles being sentenced as adults. The government has done a horrible job in that particular area, not even giving the young African Americans a chance at succeeding. How is it that “African-Americans comprise only 13% of the U.S. population and 14% of the monthly drug users, but they make up for 37% of the people arrested for drug-related offenses in America” (DoSomething.Org)? The legislative branch needs to do something to bring justice back into America.

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Personal Research

In my personal research, a face-to-face interview, there were interesting answers being said. It was a great experience. I gathered an abundance of opinions that actually made sense. I asked a total of five questions, but the two questions I focused on were: “Is there excessive race consciousness?” and “Do you believe that African Americans are being targeted?” Eric Garner and Monroe Bird were names used to explain those two questions. 85.7% of the seven participants I interviewed said “Yes” to both questions, but 14.2% said “No”. I wanted to be diverse in my research, only choosing two African Americans. In Appendix A, participant number seven, Loran, had one of the most unique responses in answering the third question in Appendix B, “Do you believe that African Americans are being targeted?” She said, “Yes. For Monroe Bird to die like he did, that opened my eyes. It showed me that the system is rigged and the police officers can get away with anything because they know that the system got their back.”Overall, the research was a success, it help me prove my points of how social injustice has negatively affected African Americans.

Conclusion & Future Study

All in all, the trials of the African Americans are due to social injustice, but the government has the power to change the injustice system. America should continue to look into social injustice towards the African Americans and abolish the negative stereotypes that continue to plague the African American community. Further studies, such as, “The Effects of Racial Profiling”, can be made to bring new insight to the public, so we can abolish social injustice forever. One focus should be the studies of types of jobs African Americans get denied of because of racial profiling.

 

References

“11 Facts About Racial Discrimination.”11 Facts About Racial Discrimination.      DoSomething.org, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.

Church, Micheal O. “The Difference between Unfairness and Injustice, and Why It Matters.”       Michael O Church. N.p., 05 Nov. 2013.

Nesbit, Jeff. “Institutional Racism Is Our Way of Life.”US News. U.S.News & World Report, 6 May 2015. Web.

“New Story Looks at Media Bias Towards Black America.”EURweb. Electronic Urban Report,   5 June 2015. Web.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964.”Constitutional Rights Foundation. (CRF), n.d. Web.

“The Effects of Racial Profiling.”Ontario Human Rights Commission. (OHRC), n.d. Web.

 

Appendix A (Some names are made up because of confidential purposes)

 

Table A1

Demographics of Participants

Participant Age Occupation Education
1 Sarah Richard(White) 21 Student Associate’s Degree (FAU)
2 Mr. Yxama (Black) 22 Student Working on Associate’s Degree (MDC)
3 Betty (Black) 22 Student Associate’s Degree
4 Ashlee Martinez (Hispanic) 29 Front Desk Receptionist Associate’s Degree (USF)
5 Tammie (White) 20 Student Associate’s Degree (FIU)
6 Darson Smith (White) 30 Social Worker Bachelor’s Degree (UARK)
7 Loran (White) 20 Student Working on Associate’s Degree (BCC)

 

 

 

 

Appendix B

Table B1

Breakdown of Data from Interview Participants/Respondents

Question Number Item Description % Agree % Disagree
1 Do you believe there are issues of victimology in America towards the African Americans? 85.7% 14.2%
2 Is there excessive race consciousness in America? 85.7% 14.2%
3 Do you believe that African Americans are being targeted? 85.7% 14.2%
4 Do you think America is making a good enough effort to stop racism? 14.2% 85.7%
5 Do you believe there is social injustice towards the African Americans in America? 100% 0%
 

 

 

 

 

 

Face-to-Face Interview (Bernensky’s Research)

 

Do you believe there are issues of victimology in America towards the African Americans?

 

Sarah Richard: Yes, I feel like sometimes we do not know what really happens to the victim because there is lack of proof or evidence.

*Mr. Xyama: Yes, Speculation is always attached to blacks dying all of sudden.

Betty: Yes, we never get the true story.

Ashlee: Yes, there is a lot of speculation going on towards blacks being victimized for nothing.

Tammie: Yes that’s how it has always been.

Darson Smith: No. (Didn’t want to speak any further)

Loran: Yes, we never know what goes on during investigation of a black man being accused of something or dying.

 

Is there excessive race consciousness in America?

 

Sarah Richard: Yes, I believe that there are racial factors that play a role in congress, jobs, and everything that involves people.

*Mr. Xyama: Yes… Why can’t more superheroes be black? There is this persona that goes on in America that says the lighter the better. Studies prove that the lighter one is, the more he or she will be accepted.

Betty: Yes, they care more about the tone than the attributes of a person.

Ashlee: Yes, they do not want blacks or Hispanics at certain levels, so that’s why we still face social injustice.

Tammie: Yes, Me being white I see it every day. My parents are very race conscious.

Darson Smith: No. In general, people have gotten over the color of skin. Some of the most well known people are African Americans.

*Loran: Yes, the new Fantastic Four movie proves it. Everybody was mad because one of the main characters was black.

 

Do you believe that African Americans are being targeted?

 

Sarah Richard: Yes, I believe minorities are being targeted period. Use Donald Trump as an example on his sayings about the Mexican race.

Mr. Xyama: Yes, minorities are being targeted, but specifically black people. Sandra Bland was targeted, Monroe Bird was targeted, and many more were targeted. The system targets young black males to go to jail or to die.

Betty: Yes, the cops are killing black people for petty things.

*Ashlee: Yes. What was the reason Eric Garner got choked to death for? (Sarcasm)

Tammie: Yes, it’s all over the news and the media always says it’s the black victim’s fault.

Darson Smith: No, there are a lot of African Americans being killed, but there are far more white people being murdered.

*Loran: Yes. For Monroe Bird to die like he did, that opened my eyes. It showed me that the system is rigged and the police officers can get away with anything because they know that the system got their back.

 

Do you think America is making a good enough effort to stop racism?

 

Sarah Richard: No, Eric Garner was killed for no apparent reason by white officers and they didn’t get penalized for it.

*Mr. Xyama: NO, I’m going to tell you a story. There was a black guy that was beaten into a coma. The white police tried to frame him, and say he tried to commit suicide, but when he woke up the black individual said, “The police beat me up.” The end.

Betty: No. (Didn’t want to speak any further)

Ashlee: No, I don’t believe America cares about the effects of racism. Look at the carnage racism has done in our community.

Tammie: No. (Didn’t want to speak any further)

Darson Smith: Yes, I believe America is doing all they can to stop racism. Look how far African Americans have come and they are still overcoming obstacles and no one is stopping them.

Loran: No. (Didn’t want to speak any further)

 

Do you believe there are social injustices towards the African Americans in America?

 

*Sarah Richard: Yes. Even though black people have beaten the odds on many occasions, there is still a lot of injustice towards them because of the worldly view of blacks.

Mr. Xyama: Yes, there is this false propaganda that black people are always on welfare. These stereotypes are real. We still have Uncle Toms, and Jim Crow is still flying.

Betty: Yes. (Didn’t want to speak any further)

Ashlee: Yes, they do not get the same opportunities the white people consistently get rewarded with.

Tammie: Yes, stereotypes and prejudice ruins African Americans.

Darson Smith: Yes, there are stereotypes about minorities. (Didn’t want to speak any further)

*Loran: Yes, there a lot of things said about the black communities that are completely negative. This gives them a bad rep. As a result, they face the consequences with going to jail or getting killed for no reason.

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My Story

 

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July 3, 2013 – March 28, 2014

Testimony (Bernensky Pierre)

It was Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 and it was 2 in the morning. Doorbell rang, I answered, and I got the news that my father passed. For weeks, I was oppressed and did nothing about it. I sat in the dark and cried alone every day I woke up. Soon I thought I got over it and believed I was back on my two feet, but I really wasn’t (Occasionally depressed and discourage). Now since my father passed away, I really didn’t have anyone to talk to. I didn’t like talking to my mom about certain situations because I needed a man’s perspective on things. My brother was young and we didn’t talk about anything serious, so I replaced my father with lustful conversations. I thought this would be harmless, but it soon got out of hand. Lustful conversations turned into a desire for intercourse (Fornication). I believed this would help me get through the pain and grief of my father, but the pain only increased like water during a flood. I was looking for the solution through girls to fill a void, a space, which expanded as wide as a tropical rainforest. The void was love.

I recognized that this was a problem and did my best to stay away from fornication. I did my best, but my best wasn’t good enough like a good competitor against an unstoppable force. I felt like I was fighting something that I was never going to defeat. I always found myself committing the deed or resorting to the second option (masturbation). It was a sensation that only lasted a few minutes and it only assisted the pain, thoughts, and scars that came after my father’s death. I didn’t know why this was happening, it was hard to explain. I always had a thing for girls, but not like this. Every second and every minute I was thinking of how I was going to receive the pleasure that would never fill me up. This desire was after my well-being like a cheetah preying on baby calf. This was an addiction, I needed help like a patient having trouble to breath. I continued to fight those nagging thoughts that said, “Call her back, she’s willing to give it up”, but those thoughts were too overwhelming. The images in my head were even worse, pornography. Sometimes, I went long stretches where I found myself free, but I really wasn’t. The girls I was dealing with were just like me, no father. My mind soon became accustom to that sin and I always felt guilty because it was one thing for me to know that I was going to hell for what I was doing, but to also realize that I was bringing someone along with me.

I went days struggling with this situation, until my childhood friend, Jacques, told me to come to a House of Peace in North Miami in October of 2013. He invited me before, but I always canceled on him. I wanted to go because he made it sound interesting. I also had the problem that was kicking my butt every day, so I decided to go. I went and there I saw teenagers, just like me. He told me that this was a place where teenagers and young adults come together and pray and worship God. I got there early and nothing was happening because it didn’t start. I had Goosebumps because I didn’t know what to expect. Suddenly, they turned off all the lights, and then I heard music that I had never heard before. I drifted to a corner and I watched these teenagers cry out to God. They were crying, begging, and pleading to him, asking him to forgive them. I prayed for my situation before, but not like that. I usually gave God five minutes a day. This was for an hour and thirty minutes. I soon felt comfortable because I wasn’t the only one that had a problem. Everyone had a problem, but unlike me they brought it before God. I said to myself, “I want to be like them.” That night I prayed the longest of my life. I told myself, “No more playing around, it’s time to change.” After that night, I thought everything was going to change like a full transformation. I prayed every day after that, but found myself committing the deed again. I soon became discourage and had a thought that said, “I don’t deserve God and I shouldn’t pray because what’s the point when I’m going to do the wrong things anyway.” I stopped praying for myself and prayed for others that I thought were better than me. I lost hope and I quit, taking my life back into the shadows of depression.

Sometimes, I went to the House of Peace in North Miami, but I was never really in to it. I just lost belief in myself, but Jacques continued to communicate with me. One day, he told me that there was another House of Peace in Coconut Grove; this time it was a rented place. He told me this would be more epic than the one in North Miami and indeed it was. It was March 27, 2014 and there I saw a few people dancing, others in the corner praying. It was as if they were in a other world, another place, while they were dancing and praying. Their eyes were firmly shut as they moved to the rhythm of the songs that were being played. These people were so into it. I started to think about what I’ve been through throughout my life, the good and the bad. I was thinking about what was cool and what was not. I asked myself, “Why can’t I be like these people? They want to do good, but I struggle with the term.” As I thought about my life in the past, the lights were opened and it was time for the word, but first all new comers had to come up for prayer. I went up and they took all the new comers outside and they prayed for us. Before they prayed, there was this girl that told her testimony. She said she had cancer and as soon as those words came out of her mouth there was a pain that struck me in my heart. Meanwhile, she continued to explain how it disappeared because of God. One night, she came to this House of Peace. She wasn’t a believer, but when they were praying for her she felt a fire inside of her. Couple of days later, she went to the doctor and they were astounded when they gave her the news that her cancer was gone. When she initiated the story with “I had cancer” I almost started to cry like all those days I was in my dark room crying over my father’s death because my father died of cancer. That testimony made me believe again and I thought if God can do that for her than he can turn my problems into cake. All of sudden, I had a desire to be with God and the next day I confirmed it at King Jesus Ministries on March 28, 2014.

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The Club by Bernensky Pierre

“I don’t want to go,” I said.

“Why won’t you just go to your prom?” Jenn replied. “You’ve been there for all four years and your parents already paid for it.”

“Jenn, I didn’t tell my parents to pay for it. That’s their fault,” I said. “I envisioned myself going to prom with the people I grew up with as a kid, not with a bunch of people I knew for a couple of years. I never wanted to go to this school, so why should I go to prom? Instead, I’m going to Miramar high school’s after party at the club.”

“Really?” replied Jenn. “You’re going to waste your parents’ money?”

“Yeah,” I said. I looked at my watch. “I have to go. Bye.”

The time had come. Eight o’clock. I got ready to head out. I opened the closet and ransacked through, trying to find the perfect outfit. I dressed in black and blue, a deep blue sky jean jacket with a long eerie black sleeve shirt beneath it. The pants were long black skinny jeans and the shoes were the same color as the outfit. I stood still, gazing into the mirror, looking for any wrongs.

I informed my parents that I was going to a party, feeling confident that it was going to be a great night. I made my way out and looked into the opaque skies and stood there, letting the stiff breeze slap me in the face. Mesmerized, I snapped out of it and entered into my slate gray 1996 Acura. I peeled out of the driveway and headed for my friend’s house. I arrived at his house. He opened the door and I strolled in, ready to dismantle him in video games. After engaging in small talk and video games until midnight, we went our separate ways.

I found myself at Burger King in the drive-thru near my house on Northeast 167th Street across from the McDonalds. My friend was eager to go and wanted no delays, so I told him to meet me there. I received my food and parked my car in the parking lot, savoring a double whooper and fries. Moments passed and I realized time was flying by. It was nearing half past midnight before heading to Broward County, so I began to drive. After driving forty minutes, I felt apprehensive. I didn’t know where I was going. Suddenly, I made a turn and found myself in a mist of darkness. The car lights were the only source of light. I kept driving only to realize I was totally lost. I started to panic.

“I’m lost,” I uttered. Then, up ahead, I spotted something that seemed to be the destination. I saw lights, and just past it, the club.

I parked near a light post and got out of my car. I heard the incessant music thumping. It was one AM and I called my friend, but there was no signal. As I walked towards the entrance, I spotted a beautiful girl. She was wearing a black tight small high neck dress. She had long ebony hair, terra cotta cheeks, violet lipstick, but her eyes were beyond description. When I got within arm’s length of the door, she spoke.

“Hey, can I be with you tonight?”

I did my best to act cool. “Okay, no problem.”

I smiled; she did the same with her dimpled cheeks. She took my hand and led the way into the club. We stood there, motionless. She was in awe, but I felt something was strange. I didn’t recognize anyone that went to Miramar high school or my friend. A rush of doubtful thoughts hit me squarely in my head.

“I’m at the wrong place,” I said.

I felt uneasy, but she again took my hand, a firm grip, and led me to the center of where everyone was dancing. She ignited the smile that I had when we were talking at the entrance. We both headed for the middle of the crowded dance floor. We danced for hours. I finally stop; I was exhausted, but she was still high-energy.

“Let’s take a break,” I said. She headed away from the middle of the crowded dance floor to the bar to get something to drink.

I stood in the midst of the club, still searching for my friend or anyone I might recognize. I turned myself to the entrance and pulled out my phone. It was 2:59. Suddenly, at the strike of three AM, everything and everyone vanished. The dance floor, the ceiling, the people, and the bar — were all gone.

Startled, I spun around in place wondering what the hell was happening. I found myself outside in a graveyard. I stood there, my heart exploding with pulsating heartbeats. Then, I heard the girl’s voice behind me. I turned. Her eyes were clear and haunting.

“I wish you were dead because we would have never stopped,” she uttered. She abruptly turned around and walked deep into the graveyard until her figure faded into the darkness.

My heart sank in an ocean of terror. I turned back around, shivering. Suddenly, I spotted the familiar light post hovering over my parked car. I ran to it with such legerity and got in. Her haunting words continued to resonate in my head as I sped off.

Teenage-Girl-Graveyard-Wedding-Dress

May 2013