The Oswego East Coalition conducts a “Lunch and Learn” with school representatives to express concerns about microaggressions among other topics against minority groups in our community. Photo courtesy of Caley Layman.
An 11-year-old Black girl from Maplewood, New Jersey, became the victim of racial profiling while collecting spotted lanternflies. Armed with a solution of liquid dish soap, water, and apple cider vinegar to capture and kill the invasive pests, the girl was reported to the police by a neighbor who felt threatened by her actions.
Although the incident caused discomfort for the girl and her mother, the police were able to understand the situation, and the young girl continued her mission of ridding the town of spotted lanternflies.
This incident highlights a much larger issue, as a study by Yale has shown that Black girls are often viewed with suspicion and perceived as dangerous, unlike their white counterparts. In response to this issue, it’s important to highlight the experiences of people of color in our communities who have been profiled in negative ways.
The Asian American community has been affected by discrimination and violence in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report by the Stop AAPI Hate coalition, there were over 2,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States in 2020 alone. This has led to increased fear and anxiety within the Asian American community, forcing many to change their daily routines to avoid confrontation.
“It’s gotten to the point where we have to be aware of our surroundings to avoid the racial slurs and violent actions portrayed by other Americans,” Senior Aidan Nopakun said. “What needs to be done is to have influential people speak up and share their voice.”
Latinos and people of color in white-majority communities have also experienced similar forms of discrimination and harassment. Many have been subjected to racial slurs and other forms of verbal abuse, making them feel unwelcome in their own communities.
Parents of these individuals often feel the need to give their children “the Talk” – a set of instructions on how to behave when confronted by the police or other authorities. This is a sad reality that many people of color face in our society today.
Although not every individual member of each marginalized and oppressed community and race experiences oppression that sparks national coverage, the stigma is still prevalent. Senior Jayla Poindexter expressed that, though she’s never experienced first-hand racism to such an extent, she can still sense the narrow-mindedness.
“I’ve never been blatantly discriminated against because of my skin color, but I can say, and I’m sure other black people can vouch for me as well, I definitely have experienced the microaggressions,” Poindexter said.
Racism has been a part of America since the beginning of the country, and many Americans want an end to this problem. It is important to acknowledge the experiences of people of color and to bring them to the forefront of the conversation. This can be achieved by publishing profiles of people of color in our communities who have been profiled in negative ways, giving them a platform to share their stories and experiences. It is also important to consult sociologists, psychologists, or other experts to understand how such experiences can affect individuals long-term.
The issue of racial profiling and discrimination affects all communities of color and is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Michael Wannah is a staff writer for Oswego East’s online news magazine, The Howl