Eric Phillips and Camille Jackson were shocked to come home in the early hours of Wednesday morning to find that they were victims of a hate crime.
The couple had been out of town for a few days and when they returned, they found the “N” word written in permanent marker on their apartment door. “White power” was written on a window and “dirty rats live here” was on their mailbox. Someone had also turned off their electricity from outside so they found their food spoiled.
This is far from the first time this couple has experienced harassment. Soon after moving in, they started seeing harassing messages slipped under their door. That was only two months ago.
Hoods and robes might be out of fashion, but racism certainly is not. A poll done in 2012 showed that racism increased after the election of Barack Obama. If that same poll were to be done today, after so many instances of the right reflexively coming to the defense of racist cops, after the right rallies behind Donald Trump, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it were to reveal that racism is even worse now than it was in 2012.
On the other hand, a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says that hate groups are on the decline in the U.S. and that they’re at their lowest level since 2005, but even that report admits that many of those groups may have gone underground. It could also be that hate is now more disorganized and that the rhetoric is largely spewed on the internet rather than in public meeting halls. That being said, Michigan is home to the largest Neo-Nazi group in the country.
Part of the problem, of course, is that African-Americans are treated as “less than” in this country. Their lives are seen as more disposable, hence the much maligned #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. It’s not saying that white lives don’t matter. It’s saying that we’ve always known white lives matter.
There is no greater evidence of systemic racism than in the criminal justice system. Black people are more far more likely to spend their lives in prison than white people, even if the crimes committed are identical. African-Americans are more affected by the drug war. One in three black men will see the inside of a prison cell in their lifetimes.
The injustice starts, but doesn’t stop, at the hands of the police, who are more likely to arrest black people. Crimes committed by black people are more likely to be pled out, so they never see the inside of a courtroom, but if they do, they are more likely to be convicted and for longer periods of time.
What does this have to do with Phillips and Jackson? Everything. When society is being told by the criminal justice system that black people are criminals-in-waiting, that’s how society tends to treat them.
h/t: WZZM | Featured image courtesy of WZZM and Eric Pillips and Camille Jackson.