WalterScott

Photo: Feidin Santana

America could really be a great country. The principles that the U.S. Constitution was founded upon states that every person be created equal. In theory, it’s a remarkable criteria for a country to stand on. But in practice, the principles of the U.S. Constitution is destroyed everyday mostly due to systematic racism.

On Dec. 5, a jury of 11 White people and one Black person allowed police officer Michael Slager to walk free after a judge declared a mistrial in the case. Slager, who is White, was caught on camera shooting unarmed Walter Scott in the back five times as he ran away. Following the murder, he attempted to frame Scott by placing a weapon at the scene. It was an execution that the world witnessed. Without a doubt, Slager killed an innocent man who didn’t deserve to die in that manner.

But White racism that prevails in systematic ways allowed Slager to get away with murder. The primary reason for the mistrial was that one juror couldn’t convict Slager of murder. In his/her racist mind, they couldn’t be responsible for convicting and ruining the life of a White man who killed a Black person without reason. That racist juror doesn’t see value in Black life and believes that a White person’s life should never be put in jeopardy if a Black person is involved. But the system allowed a person who thinks that way to serve on a jury. It’s a subtle reality which reveals  how the odds are stacked against Black people in America.

White racism that is systematic doesn’t often present itself in the form of White men wearing White hoods, or a restaurant refusing to serve a Black customer. This form of racism isn’t about the use of the N-word or projecting racial stereotypes. Systematic racism is White racism in action.

It’s the kind of racism where White liberals will praise themselves for voting for Barack Obama while playing a role in keeping housing and schools segregated. It’s the kind of racism that Blacks face when entering the job market and seek advancement at the workplace. It’s the kind of racism that occurs when a Black kid born on the South Side of Chicago won’t have the chance to experience the same luxuries in life as a White child born in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.

When small levels of systematic racism is allowed to exist, it grows into a larger problem. It grows into mass incarceration and police officers who get away with killing unarmed Blacks. If Americans remain silent without changing the subtle forms of racism, the larger instances of racism will continue.

People around the world are furious about the mistrial in the Walter Scott case. But most White people in America should be ashamed. And not just because another officer got away with killing an innocent Black man. The tragedy is deeper than the Scott’s untimely death that should have never occurred. White Americans should be ashamed that systematic racism is being allowed to destroy the very foundation this country was built upon.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.