II．Social Impact of Racial Discrimination in the US
Racial discrimination has a detrimental social impact in the US. It has led to worsening race relations, growing hate crimes, and increasing societal breakdown.
1. Worsening race relations
The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A survey by the Pew Research Center on current US race relations revealed that 45 percent of respondents thought that the US had made progress in racial equality. Statistics released by the Pew Research Center in August 2015 showed that 50 percent of Americans thought that racism was a serious social problem in the US, and 60 percent – 14 percentage points higher than the previous year – thought that the government should make more effort to promote racial equality. A National Broadcasting Company (NBC) poll in 2016 found 77 percent of the US public confirming the existence of racial discrimination against African-Americans, and 52 percent of them calling it a very serious problem. Pewresearch.org reported on February 22, 2018 that in 2017, about eight in ten African Americans (81 percent) said racism is a big problem in society today, an increase of 37 percentage points compared with 2009. NBC News reported on May 29, 2018 that a poll shows that 64 percent of its respondents said racism remains a major problem in American society; 45 percent believed race relations in the US are getting worse; and 30 percent thought race is the biggest source of division in America today.
2. Growing racial hate crimes
The number of racial hate groups keeps growing. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 457 hate groups in the US in 1999, 602 in 2000, and 1,000 by 2010. Among these were the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, Skinhead, and anti-Muslim groups. Their members were present at the white-supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
The number of racial hate crimes remains high. According to the FBI yearly statistics for hate crimes, an annual average of 6,000 hate crimes were reported from 2010 to 2015. About 60 percent of such crimes involved racial discrimination and 20 percent involved religious discrimination. Latimes.com reported on November 13, 2018 that according to a report released by the FBI, hate crimes in the US rose by more than 17 percent in 2017 – the biggest annual increase since 2001. Among the 7,175 documented hate crimes in 2017, about 60 percent were motivated by racial discrimination and close to 50 percent victims were African Americans.
Vicious hate crimes are frequent. In April 2014, Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old white supremacist, shot dead three people at two Jewish sites in Kansas City. He shouted "Heil Hitler" when arrested. In 2015, 21-year-old white man Dylann Roof shot dead nine people including the pastor inside an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. He shouted "You have to go" as he fired at his victims. On October 27, 2018, Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white male, entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with an assault rifle and three handguns, and opened fire for 20 minutes during a Shabbat religious service while shouting anti-Semitic phrases, leaving 11 dead and 6 injured. This was the worst incident of anti-Semitic violence in recent US history.
3. Increasing societal breakdown
There are widely disparate views on racial discrimination in US society. A PRRI study in 2016 showed that 64 percent of African-Americans complained about police abuse of power in their communities, while only 17 percent of the white respondents shared this view – the former figure is nearly four times the latter. About 83 percent of white people had confidence in law enforcement by police, while only 48 percent of African-Americans held such views. White people and African-Americans held completely different views toward police killing of African-Americans. About 65 percent of white people and 15 percent of African-Americans thought such incidents were unrelated individual cases, but as many as 81 percent of African-Americans believed that such incidents were frequent in the US.
Incidents of police killing African-Americans have triggered racial hostility and hate. When the human rights organization "Black Lives Matter" took to the streets in Minneapolis in November 2015 to protest about the police killing of Jamar Clark, an African-American man, several white supremacists opened fire at them and five were injured. In July 2016, incidents of white police killing African-Americans in both Louisiana and Minnesota, which aroused public outcries in more than one place. During the protests in Dallas, Texas, a man shot at police officers, killing five and injuring nine. The shooter later explained that he had killed the white police officers only to protest police brutality against African-Americans.
White supremacist demonstrations trigger violent conflict. In August 2017, white supremacists and rightists were heard yelling the Nazi slogan "Blood and soil!" at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. James Alex Fields Jr, a 20-year-old white supremacist, accelerated his car and slammed into the counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19. According to a report on The Daily Telegraph website from August 13, 2017, the rally and subsequent violence resulted in three dead and dozens injured. One US human rights group said that this white supremacist rally may have been America's "largest hate gathering in decades". Anastasia Crickley, chairperson of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, commented: "We are alarmed by the racist demonstrations, with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred."