America really believes in equality

Comment: The endless struggle for equality in the US

The turmoil is the language of the unheard. More than half a century ago, Martin Luther King explained in a sonorous voice the reasons for which black people take to the streets in the United States. It is shocking how little has changed since then. Again thousands demonstrate against racism and police arbitrariness. And again they have little hope that anything will change in their everyday life.

They will continue to have little share in American prosperity, earn less than whites; they will continue to have little chance of advancement, have to send their children to poorer schools, have less health insurance, have a lower life expectancy and be put in prisons faster and longer - just because they are not white. It is not, as one commentator writes, that blacks in dozens of US cities are protesting because they feel like second-class citizens. you are it!

No functioning control of the local government

Because on paper everyone may be equal before the law. In reality, when there is no suspicion, American police officers stop citizens primarily because of their appearance. And if they make brutal mistakes in the process, as in the killing of George Floyd, they often deny them. Trying to cover up, to repress - mostly in complicity with the local prosecutor, which makes matters worse.

DW chief correspondent Miodrag Soric

In the USA there is no independent, functioning control of local government. Too many police cars have law breakers pretending to be law enforcement officers. The actions of the officials were and are tolerated by too many whites. Martin Luther King spoke of the majority of Americans when he said, "Those who accept evil without contradiction are in fact working with it."

Evil must not only be contradicted, it must be stopped. The first colored President of the USA, Barack Obama, tried - ultimately in vain. During his tenure, a Ferguson police officer killed the unarmed Michael Brown with eight shots, which led to nationwide riots. During his tenure, the Black New Yorker Eric Garner, who was in the stranglehold of a police officer, breathed his life with the words: "I can't breathe - I can't breathe." These are the same last words that George Floyd gasped when a policeman pressed his neck to the ground with his knee for almost nine minutes.

Powerless against everyday racism

No, the American presidents may command the largest army in the world, but they are powerless against the everyday racism of their compatriots. Of course, they should flagellate the injustice and show understanding for the victims of police arbitrariness - if only so as not to further stir up the anger and emotions. But, as expected, President Trump fails miserably here too: shows as much empathy as a meteorite crashing into a meadow of flowers. The president only has his re-election in mind, believes he can collect points with martial slogans from white voters. Bad enough for the US that his calculation could work out.

The George Floyd case is unfortunately not an isolated incident. There are thousands of similar occurrences. Prejudices against black people can be found not only among police officers, prosecutors and judges, but also among teachers and employers. It is this everyday racism that the protests are directed against. Because it's so commonplace, it's hard to go against him. For years human rights activists have been calling for better training for US police officers. For decades they have been demanding independent control of the work of the police and public prosecutors, and stricter gun laws. Little has happened so far.

But with all understanding for the protests: Violence leads to a dead end. It cannot be defended or approved by anyone. And only confirms the prejudices of many whites. So what's left? Marin Luther King clung to, as he put it, "boundless hope" that should never be lost. Of course, that will be little consolation for George Floyd's family.