To the Editor:
On Thursday, July 20, The Franciscan Peace Center will host a racial justice dialogue using three short films: “Racism is Real”; “Black Protests vs. White Riots” and “Prison System by the Numbers.” Each film highlights a different aspect of racial inequality — mass incarceration, prejudice and media misrepresentation — revealing the ways in which racism remains entrenched in American society.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s pushed major progress towards racial equality in the United States, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, it could not eradicate the institutional discrimination and deep-rooted racism of American society. Beginning in the 1970s, America’s War on Drugs has led to 40 percent of the prison population being made up of black people, in spite of relatively equal rates of drug use between white and black Americans. This disparity has been a recurring theme in American history, where the systems meant to “protect” American citizens criminalize and penalize people based on the color of their skin.
Over the past 30 years, a persistent racial divide in incomes has left black men earning roughly 25 percent less than their white counterparts and black women earning around 35 percent less. Nearly one-quarter of black people live in poverty today, the highest poverty rate among any racial or ethnic group. Living in low-income neighborhoods where access to adequate education and healthcare is sparse, many black Americans are left to a cycle of poverty that perpetuates an atmosphere of violence, crime and incarceration where they live. Five decades after the hard-won advancements of the 1960s, opportunities for black Americans have remained separate and unequal.
Join us at The Canticle, 843 13th Ave. N., Clinton, at 6:30 p.m. to delve into this topic, and learn what we each can do to change this horrific story.
Lori Freudenberg, Community Outreach Director
Franciscan Peace Center, Clinton