All humans are created equally, but it seems like it’s taken a long time for us to realize that as a society. Even in 2016, horrifying acts of racism occur every day. Many people would like to pretend that racism no longer exists and plead to “not make this about race,” even though it pretty much is the majority of the time. No matter what your background is, chances are you’ve probably judged someone or been judged based solely on race alone.
Sometimes, it’s not even about the origin of a person and based only upon their skin color. Someone who may be completely white may experience acts of racism just because they have darker features. No matter what the case may be, racism is always a disgusting and disturbing act, but it’s something that has occurred nonstop throughout history and doesn’t show any sign of stopping anytime soon. What is it about humans that drive us to separate each other based on race? We’ve created a system throughout our history that divides and oppresses rather than combining and thriving. We truly are stronger together, but many people wish to be alone with people who look and think exactly the way they do.
Obviously, there have been some horrible acts of racism that we’ve learned throughout history classes and educational programs, such as slavery, genocide, and segregation. But for this article, we’ll be focusing on lesser-known instances of racism and things that aren’t always taught to us as they should be. Here are the 15 most disturbing acts of racism committed throughout history:
15. The Ota Benga Exhibition At The Zoo
Ota Benga was a human from Congo who was put in an exhibit at the Bronx zoo in 1906. Before and after the zoo was closed, Ota Benga had free range of the zoo. But once the white people started flowing through the doors, Ota Benga was forced back behind bars alongside the monkey exhibits at the zoo. Unfortunately, Ota Benga’s story has not been told often, but it is certainly one that needs to be heard. He was captured from his home by slave traders and brought over seas with other members of his tribe who would soon be subjected to similar torture. After years of being passed between various groups and exhibits, he wound up at the Bronx zoo. He spent a long time there before being released to an orphanage. After being “Americanized” with new clothes and a more conforming appearance, he was a free man. Unfortunately, after a life full of sorrow, Ota Benga found himself to be depressed and committed suicide at only 32 years of age.
14. Nonstop Cultural Appropriation
Cultural appropriation is the act of one culture using elements and traditions of another culture. It sounds pretty harmless, but it’s much more complicated than that. The problem starts when the dominant culture uses elements of an oppressed or under privileged culture for their benefit. Many people may think that it’s honorable to share the culture, but they don’t understand that they’re sharing it only in their way without actually being aware or spreading awareness about the culture. The worst cases are people who think the logo for the Cleveland Indians is acceptable while not caring at all about the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s people who enjoy getting tattoos of Chinese symbols while still stating we need stronger restrictions on immigration. It’s people who wear Bindis and headdresses while still assuming anyone who’s Indian or Muslim is a terrorist. The most important thing to remember about cultural appropriation is that if it’s not your culture that’s being appropriated, you don’t really get to decide whether or not it’s offensive.
13. Police Shooting Innocent People Of Color
These past few years, we’ve seen some of the most horrific acts of police brutality against people of color throughout our country. You might say that people should just follow the law and do as they’re told, but just this year, an innocent black man was shot in his own car after stating he simply made an officer aware that he had a gun on him, something that was completely legal. If a white man was shot simply for having a legally purchased and carried gun on him, everyone would lose their minds, but when it’s a black man, he’s told that he should just follow the rules and nothing bad will happen. This was just one of the few black men shot this year who didn’t even had a gun on them in the first place. If a person is not armed, there is absolutely no reason that any trained officer should ever use excessive force, especially a gun, on them in their arrest. There have been plenty of incredibly violent white criminals who committed horrific acts but were not shot down, including Dylann Roof, who we’ll get to later.
12. A Chicago Woman Spitting On A Black Teacher
Two innocent African American schoolteachers found themselves in the middle of a hate crime over the summer at Chicago’s Margarita Festival. While playing a game of corn hole, the couple decided to grab a stray bean bag that was laying in the grass close to them to use during the game. Immediately, a woman came up to them and began verbally attacking them for using what was apparently her beanbag. She began calling them racial slurs and even spit in their direction. The saddest part was that she was with two other black individuals who seemed unmoved by her horrific remarks. Just because those two individuals didn’t find offense in her words does not mean that what she said was OK in any way. The innocent couple was just hoping to have a pleasant summer afternoon. They meant no malice by using her beanbag and only took it because they thought it was going unused. They then ended up being involved in a disturbing hate crime, in which the woman, Jessica Lynn Sanders, was arrested.
11. People Using #whitelivesmatter Or #alllivesmatter
Black Lives Matter is an organization that was created in 2012 in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. The organization has received immense backlash due to its failure to include white people in the title. The point of creating what started as a hashtag in the beginning was to bring awareness to the criminalization of innocent black Americans. Black lives matter is meant to say just that -black lives matter just as much as any other life and their struggles should be recognized as being as important as anyone else. No one has ever said that any life matters less, just that we need to pay attention with how black lives are handled in our society. Those who choose to use phrases and hashtags like #alllivesmatter or #whitelivesmatter are completely failing to see the point and are instead making the issues all about them. There aren’t even organizations around the hashtags and are simply used to devalue an actual movement that is trying to thrive and progress. If you still have trouble understanding what Black Lives Matter means, it would be a good idea to visit the website and learn more about what they’re all about.
10. Charleston Church Shooting
As we mentioned earlier, Dylann Roof is a violent terrorist who was able to get away with his life after opening fire in a church in Charleston South Carolina. Dylann is a self-proclaimed white supremacist who admitted he targeted the church because of the demographic of the people who attended. Innocent lives were lost inside a sacred place all because they were black lives. Innocent unarmed African Americans are murdered constantly while a violent criminal like this is spared his life even though all evidence points towards him being an absolutely racist monster. The worst part? The cops actually bought him Burger King after the incident. The man deserves a slow and painful death after the horrific trauma that he caused, and yet people will still fail to see any problem with race in this situation.
9. Hollywood’s History Of Whitewashing
Hollywood has a long history of being not inclusive of all skin types. They often give roles written for people of color to white people, sometimes even in blackface. Movies and television series barely have casts that even include one non-white member, and even if they do, it’s often a small role. If a big role is given to a non-white actor, it often revolves around their race and can barely go longer than 15 minutes before mentioning that they aren’t white. Many people fail to see this or see a problem with this, but when we create an onscreen world that doesn’t involve people of color, we create a reality in which anyone who is non-white doesn’t exist, or exists only in the way that we perceive them on screen. This results in stereotyping, which results in all the other horrible acts of racism throughout the rest of the list.
8. People Getting Upset About Banning The Confederate Flag
There was a time in history when people thought it was acceptable to own other people and force them to work for no pay and horrible conditions. At one point, people realized this was messed up and decided to do something about it. Well, 11 states full of people in our country disagreed and wanted to keep their slaves, so they decided to secede and form the Confederate States of America. In order to show they were Confederates, people would use the Confederate flag. Even though they lost the civil war and slavery is not only illegal but is recognized as the most horrible thing to ever happen to our country, people still feel as though it’s OK to have Confederate flags and even get offended by the mere idea that they might not be allowed to use it anymore. Some argue that it’s a symbol of rebellion, but rebellion against what? Not being racist?
7. Stop And Frisk
We got recent wind of a “stop and frisk” during Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Some people might think it’s a good idea; if you look suspicious, police can stop and search you. If you’ve got nothing to hide, what’s the problem, right? But the truth is that stop and frisk has a horrible racist history. The majority of people who were chosen for this procedure were those of African American or Latino ethnicity. The procedure is meant to protect citizens, but in reality, weapons were found on less than 1% of those stopped. They still resulted in many arrests, many of which were on very little criminal basis. Women were also often stopped and subjected to sexual harassment from police officers they were supposed to submit to and respect. The practice is invasive, humiliating, and unconstitutional. It has no correlation with a lower crime rate and only exposes police officers abusing their powers.
6. Sterilizing Minorities
All great medicine started with a trial period in which it had to be tested on humans before being sold and available to the public. This includes birth control. At one point, birth control was actually illegal. But luckily for many of us, an oral contraceptive was eventually produced that would make it so that women could take a pill every day and not have to worry about unwanted pregnancies anymore. But there is a racist history behind giving out birth control. In its early stages, birth control was given to people to test in order to work out any side effects that might come along with it. It was given under the disguise as a fertility treatment and primarily given to people of color living in low income areas. This meant that without them knowing, people from black and Latino families were given medicine that could potentially lead to their permanent sterilization. Sometimes women were also given hysterectomies without their consent after giving birth. We have come a long way as far as birth control and reproductive health is concerned, but it certainly had a racist start.
5. The Incident At A Pool In McKinney, Texas
It was just like any other day at the neighborhood pool in Mckinney Texas in the middle of June of 2015. One young 14-year-old girl decided to throw a pool party for her birthday and invited her closest friends to enjoy a cool escape on a hot summer day. The pool was private, but since the young girl was a resident of the neighborhood, she was allowed to have guests inside for her birthday party. Unfortunately, one racist white woman did not allow the young girl to enjoy the party and instead called the police, claiming they were trespassing. The police showed up and resulted in one man holding the young girl to the ground on her stomach, aiming a gun at those who tried to help. Fortunately, the officer has since resigned. But the young girl is still suffering from the incident, often being subject to racist remarks when she’s recognized.
4. When No One Believed Obama Was A Citizen
Whether you like our current president Barack Obama or not, the fact of the matter is that his presidency is historic. He is the first African American to ever be voted into office, and he’s achieved quite a bit during his time as our leader. He is not perfect; he has made mistakes and has done things that everyone may disagree with. But no matter what, he deserves our respect as our president. But instead of getting respect, the same respect that people are saying Donald Trump deserves, he has been belittled, mocked, and made fun of throughout his time in office based on the fact that he is African American. All presidents deserved to be critiqued, but only for their actions, never their race. The most disturbing part of his presidency was when people refused to admit that he was a United States citizen and demanded a birth certificate from him. Has any other president been subjected to such racial discrimination?
3. The KKK
The KKK is by far one of the most disturbing terrorist groups to ever take hold inside our very own country. They are an extreme hate group based solely around discriminating against and hating races other than whites. They have a long history of violence towards African Americans and are known for lynching, hanging, and burning crosses in the yards of African American citizens. And yet they somehow still are allowed to operate within our country. Many people are willing to defend this group because of freedom of speech, but we have to remember that the first amendment does not protect hatred and terrorism. It’s despicable that a group like this still exists and even more despicable that there are people willing to defend the group. But you can never truly know what face might await underneath the white hood.
Blackface is the act of painting one’s face to appear to have the facial features associated with African Americans. The act gained popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s. People thought it was hilarious to paint their faces, dance and talk wildly or stupidly, eat watermelon, and overall perpetuate stereotypical characteristics and act buffoonish- all for laughs. Blackface hasn’t only existed in real life; oftentimes, cartoons were known for depicting the same caricature, even big companies like Disney. Unfortunately, blackface still happens today. Many people enjoy painting their faces for Halloween and other events that might call for a costume. Even some celebrities are known to have participated in the despicable act. It’s outlandish to think that there are still people in the world who don’t see any problem at all with doing this. How long will it be before we learn that this form of cultural appropriation is never OK?
1. Voting In Donald Trump As President
Whether you like the guy or not, voted for him or voted for someone else, it’s a pretty tall claim to state that our future president, Donald Trump, is not a racist. Before he even announced his plans to run for president, Donald found himself in a big lawsuit for not renting his apartments out to people of color. It wasn’t just a coincidence; there was evidence that the management team would give different terms of lease to people of color than to white applicants. His hotel and plaza were also in big trouble for being exposed for removing African American card dealers at the request of rich gamblers. After getting the support of the KKK, he never took any moment to dismiss the organization or condemn their acts. He referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. He’s encouraged violence against black protesters at his rallies, and he’s part of the group that refuses to believe Obama was born in this country. The list could go on for ages, but the fact of the matter is that any one of these things should be enough to dismiss him as a serious candidate, but somehow, he still managed to make his way into the White House.