A Letter to my Uncle
It is long since I dedicated time to write a letter to you. Today, we live in a world where advances in technology and communication are transforming human interactions in many ways, and people are quick to abandon traditional forms of communication like letters. I may be one of them, but my intended message makes a letter just the perfect medium of communication I can employ. More so, I know you cherish reading, and going through this piece is likely to be a good pastime activity in the afternoon. I have known you and my father throughout my life, and you remain the only men who have carried me in your arms, on your shoulders, spanked, and kissed me since I was an infant, child, and now as a man. With you around me, I have grown to become honorable and moral man and I remain forever grateful because together, you have given me a different perspective of human effort, happiness, pain, and how they alternate with time.
Since my father is now deceased, I decided to dedicate this letter to you though you are far away. I am now a man and experiencing the world with many things happening now and then, and I wanted to share some of the events in our society that continue to amaze and surprise me. Growing up, I was blinded by the love and protection the only two men in my life offered. Today, I am confident to say that racial discrimination and inequality permeates American society, and as an Asian America, I continue struggling to acquire the opportunities and privileges that whites enjoy in America. I have learned racism has historical roots and continues to shape America society, but I find it important to share some of the occurrences today that continue to sustain this terrible phenomenon in American society today.
Uncle, I agree growth and advancement could be America’s reward for enduring the challenges and problems of our time courageously, with a demand for equality and justice. We overcame the American Revolution, American Civil War, Great Depression, and the Civil Rights Movement that almost tore the country apart, but our innovative responses to such turmoil helped the country move forward. What worries many American citizens, especially Blacks is the fact that the benefits resulting from the challenges the country overcame were shared along racial lines with whites getting all the privilege and opportunities at the expense of Blacks and other minority races. This trend was instilled throughout our social, political, economic, and cultural institutions, and their continuation today only leads to pain and suffering of minorities in the country.
Even the 21st century that is witnessing improved human conditions continues to be characterized by starkly two contrasting American experiences. In one America, people experience the privilege and prospect of life and liberty, and the pursuit of individual happiness in its every dimension.The other America, on the other hand, experiences a daily cruelty that destroys all the hopes and expectations of the youth. My experience of interacting with our social institutions is that a single group in this country often expects government institutions to work in their favor, regardless of the fact that such institutions are regulated and guided by impartial laws.I am Asian American, and I continuously ask myself why my fellow brothers, mothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, grandmothers, entire families and many generations have to be swept aside like trash by the ever-unforgiving arm of our laws.
Today, it feels like minorities are living in a new Jim Crow Era as the criminal justice system has grown in power and influence over the lives and livelihoods of majorly blacks and other minority groups in the country. The youth are the major victims as they face brutality for petty offenses by a criminal justice system focused on keeping them behind bars and in their millions. Moreover, many continue to lose their lives at the hands of government officers and their cases later dismissed by partially constituted the jury. It is true for the case of Blacks arrested or shot dead for suspicion of being criminals of the case of Michael Brown, who was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson for stealing cigarettes from a store. It is evidence of subversion of justice, but it is painful to see a single race walking away scot free for similar offenses.
Dear Uncle, through the activities of the criminal justice system, it is evident that racism is not dead in America as Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minority races remain under the criminal justice’s control. They are either in jail, probation, or doing parole, and their number today exceeds the number of Blacks who were enslaved by whites in the 1850s. Moreover, racism has led to discrimination in education, employment, housing, and voting rights. I thought the civil rights movement addressed various issues posed by racism in the 1960s, but I recently unearthed evidence suggesting these challenges are faced by anybody branded a felon. Since many felons are individuals of color compared to whites, it is apparent racial discrimination remains powerful as it was during the post slavery and Jim Crow eras.
In another light, the criminal justice system remains a weapon of racial control that targets minorities, especially the youth, through its war on drugs. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act enacted in 1986 unveiled new punitive laws for crack cocaine than powdered cocaine offenders. It is because the crack was often associated with blacks while powdered cocaine associated with whites. As a result, offenders charged and sentenced to prison continued to suffer in prison and outside prison as more harsh sentences were compounded by existing punitive criminal laws.For instance, past offenders are unlikely to get student loans or public housing, and this puts them at a disadvantage.
In summary Uncle, I am increasingly worried about the brewing anger and rage amongst us the youth whose future is doubtful as we are intentionally disregarded by the government and law.This negative perception of youth from minorities groups today is reinforced by the media and was accurately captured by Kanye West during an interview with ABC following Hurricane Katrina. He retorted “You see a black family, it says, ‘They’re looting.’ You see a white family, it says, ‘They’re looking for food.’ And, you know, it’s been five days because most of the people are black. America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible.” This rage amongst minorities continues to draw attention to many injustices against them though it is consistently neglected. However, it has made people and communities aware they are with others in this fight, and I am worried it may lead to more violence against minorities if not addressed innovatively as other occurrences in American history.
List of References
Alexander, Michelle. 2012. The new Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness.
Baldwin J. 2015. A Letter to my Nephew. The Progressive. Retrieved from
King, M.L. 1967. “The Other America.” Retrieved from
Lewis, J. 2014. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the 'Other America'. The Atlantic. Retrieved
Ray, R. 2012. “If Only He Didn’t Wear the Hoodie.”
Smith, M.D. 2015. The Rebirth of Black Rage. The Nation. Retrieved from
West, Cornel. 2005. The Cornel West reader. New York; [Great Britain]: Basic Civitas Books.