Article by Davood Rahni
The 8 min 46 sec lethal choke hold inflicted on the late George Floyd has had far greater global ramifications and consequences than originally acknowledged. Skeptics of the far right opine the past incarceration and poor lifestyle choices of George Floyd as the justification to not only discredit him and thus rationalize his killing but also to undermine the historic lingering grievances of black Americans and many others.The fact remains that Floyd’s slaying was only the tip of a huge iceberg that re-awoke the nation’s conscience; putting on the back burner the continued agony endured by the African and Native Americans is no any longer viable. The only way forward is for the nation to face, embrace and correct its past misconducts and pledge to avoid the ongoing systemic mistreatment of the above populations. It is in fact meritorious to invoke Juneteenth Day to safeguard equality and equal opportunity for ALL Americans.
The fact is that the alt-right and neocons have felt in the driving seat since the collapse of the Soviet Union and now feel more re-empowered by the divisive rhetoric and polices of the current US administration.
Consequently, the modest and by and large symbolic socio-economic and political reforms of the past fifty years have now regressed to yet a new low point of reckoning. Intensified, the chronic systemic racism, sexism and misogyny is far more than ever deeply entrenched in our institutional, corporate and individual fabrics and is hijacking the American ideals and values of equality, equal opportunity, due process, habeas corpus, the rule of law and blind justice. Unless addressed comprehensively and ameliorated sustainably at a fundamental levels, it is feared that the very fabric of the American society will be torn apart.The systemic institutional racism has disregarded, denigrated, and denied the basic natural, human, civil and constitutional rights of not only the African and Native Americans but is now adversely impacting the daily lives of up to two-thirds (including women and most 20th century immigrants) of our 333 million population in the US. The systematic, endemic and institutionally ratified beliefs for the self-entitlement and consequently the supremacist acts of the historically northern European “whites”, who landed on Plymouth Rock as far back as the late sixteenth century, has afforded them to feel as the sole proprietors of this nation of immigrants. In retrospect, their arrival led to the annihilation of millions of native inhabitants from the 574 native nations.
The nation may not fully feel the equality and peace of our purported modern nation until overdue justice is duly served to all African Americans with slave ancestry in particular. Meanwhile, the issues of race, ethnicity, diversity, cultural identity and ancestry has become far more complex when compared to the early days when immigration only encompassed the “north” European puritans. For instance, the majority of the Americans whose parents emigrated to the US post WWII, particularly after the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s, are from south/southwest Asia and north Africa, the Caribbean and Latin/South America. The majority arrived not necessarily for better economic opportunities but to escape from religious and/or political persecution.
Among the recently arrived, those with origins in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), such as Iranians, are classified as “white” according to Federal regulations and the US Census. Thus, despite many feeling racism and discrimination, they have no special legal or societal protective status.
So, most are frowned upon, mistreated, and discriminated against by the public at large, media, employers and federal and state governments. Their skin color or lack thereof and their “exotic” complexions, their accents, names and way of life is ridiculed. Their mistreatment has been exacerbated whenever our government and the government of the native home from which they fled are at odds. As a result, this has and will continue to shatter their safety, security and equal opportunity, unless it is addressed by the nation as a whole and protected by the letter and spirit of the law. Whether or not they are Muslim by practice or by birth into a Muslim family, or Sikh, Hindu, Armenian, Assyrian, Judaic, Zoroastrian, Agnostic or Gnostic, they remain perceived as Arab Muslims and bear guilt by association!
If the historical and institutional root causes of racism against Native Americans and African Americans were fully addressed, the dilemma now endured by MENA immigrants would likewise begin to resolve.
It is commendable to note that most humans in our society adhere to and exercise the overarching golden rule of “treating others as one would expect to be treated.” And yet, as history teaches us, unless we learn from it we are doomed to repeat it with far more devastation.
Let me close with a poem by Sa’adi the 13th century Persian poet
Humans are all integral members of one same frame,
Since they all, at first, from the same one eternal essence came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their desired rest.
If thou feel’st not for others’ misery,
A Human, therefore, is no name for thee
Golriz Ghahraman, ‘I feel such sorrow when I imagine my parents’ fate’ (excerpt from her Memoir just published in New Zeeland)
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Rahni, D.N., Is Persian a homogenous genetic and thus distinct “superior race”?
Rahni, D.N., U.S. IMMIGRATION: Is It Still an (inter-)National Asset or a Heartland Liability? You be the final Judge!
Rahni, D.N., Iran: the Historical Cradle of Civilization, the Origin of Human Diversity, and the Bastion of Humanistic Tolerance
Nicki Ghafari I Belong In This Country, But The Census Doesn’t Recognize That
About the author. Davood N. Rahni has been a university professor in New York for nearly four decades. He was born and raised and completed his undergraduate studies in Tehran. His spiritual humanism is deeply rooted in his multi-religious and multi-ethnic heritage.
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