America’s diversity meltdown: Are we really moving forward

Graphic by Apsara Senaratne / The Plaid Press

By Hadia Chaudhry

America boasts about its diverse population and claims to accept all races, yet all of this praise for different ethnicities and cultures is fragile; it can easily transform into hatred
with a single turn of events.

I’ve experienced it in what I would consider a subtle way, usually in the form of stereotypes such as “all Asians are smart” and “all Indians eat curry”. However, in light of the recent events in Charlottesville, a more blatant face of racism has revealed itself, indicating that we as a nation have regressed in our acceptance of diversity.
The country’s population has diversified throughout its history, but our tolerance of people of all backgrounds has remained inconsistent. When events fueled with racist
intentions occur, they cause the slow and steady progress of acceptance to fall apart.
The violence that ensued after more than 250 white supremacists marched the streets of Charlottesville in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue brought to light the fact that no matter how accepting our country may seem, racism is still prevalent in our society. The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers on September 11 not only marked a moment in which an entire country came together in solidarity, but it also led many to unite against Americans of South Asian and Muslim descent out of fear and racism.

Data from the FBI shows that after the attack, around 93 anti-Muslim hate crimes occurred, and in 2015 and 2016, 91 crimes were reported. After 9/11, however, anti-Muslim crimes dropped as Americans began to accept the Muslim community for who they were and not associating all of them with terrorism, but this progress was short lived.
I wasn’t aware of racism during my childhood because my environment kept me closed off from the outside world and ignorant. On the news, I rarely saw coverage of hate
crimes, but when one did occur, it happened at a small scale. In 2016, there was more news about hate crimes than I ever witnessed before.
Racism still lurks within society, manifested in the form of derogatory words and phrases, systemic disadvantages, and segregation within school districts.

“I know multiple people that have been told to go back to their country ever since President Trump came into office, which is surprising because I felt like before, diversity was more accepted and now the acceptance level is decaying,” junior Claudia Mejia said.

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States raised tensions between Americans of different backgrounds and political parties. These tensions opened the doors for racism to be expressed freely. As someone who grew up surrounded by people of different races and ethnicities, it’s strange be told that I don’t
belong because of my skin color and race.

The years of a steady decrease in hate crimes seen since 2003 were shattered in 2016. Between 2003 and 2009, according to a report by the Department of Justice, hate crimes decreased from 239,400 crimes a year to 148,400. However, according to NBC News, election year saw a 20% increase in hate crimes in 9 metropolitan areas.
As a country, we united when others were hurting. We eventually united after 9/11 and after the bomb attack at the Boston marathon. Hatred existed in both instances, but it dwindled. Progress towards acceptance is fading and putting us back in time to when the Confederate flag flapped high and proud in the wind and people of color were hung low.

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