The Deep-Rooted Racial Discrimination in the US Highlights Its Hypocrisy on Human Rights

                                                                      China Society for Human Rights Studies

                                                                                             July 2019

The United States is a multi-racial country. Its present racial structure and race relations have their historical roots in European colonial expansion and African slave trade, and the influx of immigrants in modern times.

The 2010 census showed that the US had a total population of 308 million. Based on their color, blood lineage, and places of origin, the US administration divides the population into: whites, 72.4 percent of the total population, including 63.7 percent non-Hispanic whites; African Americans, 12.6 percent; Asians, 4.8 percent; native Americans, 1.1 percent; other races, 6.2 percent; and mixed races, 2.9 percent. The non-Hispanic whites are deemed to be the majority racial group in the US, while the other 112 million people including the white Hispanic and Latino Americans are called minorities.

Races are an important marker of US social division of category. Thomas Sowell, a US scholar, writes in his Ethnic America: A History, “Color has obviously played a major role in determining the fate of many Americans…” It is such differences that give rise to a hierarchy formed among different races that defines the status and power of each group. The fundamental control of state power by the European whites, the dominant race, and their systematic discrimination against all other races are the conspicuous feature of the American racial hierarchy. Racial discrimination in the US is in essence the discrimination of the European whites against all other racial minorities. Racial discrimination is the root cause and the supporting mechanism of the American racial hierarchy.

I. Forms of Racial Discrimination in the US

The UN “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” requires all state parties to take active measures to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms, and to guarantee the right of everyone to equality before the law, civil rights, political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin. The United States, a signatory to the Convention, has failed miserably in meeting these requirements. Racial discrimination in the US is found in every aspect of people’s lives, particularly in law enforcement, the judiciary, the economy and society.

1. Racial discrimination in law enforcement and the judiciary

Equality before the law for everyone is a basic principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is also recognized in America’s political philosophy and legal system. In reality, however, many practices of US law enforcement and the judiciary run counter to this principle, with racial discrimination worsening in certain areas and the basic human rights of racial minorities willfully violated.

One of the most visible of these is the frequent shooting and killing of African Americans by the police in acts of abuse of power. In 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed and barehanded, was shot by a white police officer six times and killed in Ferguson, Missouri. In 2015, 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot and killed by police when he was already handcuffed and subdued. US federal government statistics show that young African American males are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than young white males. For African American males between 15 and 19 years old, the chance of getting shot and killed by police is 31.17 per million, while the figure for white males of the same age group stands at 1.47 per million. According to the Mapping Police Violence website, in 2013 at least 301 African Americans were shot and killed by the police; the figures were 320 in 2014, 351 in 2015, 309 in 2016, 282 in 2017, and 260 in 2018. A report on The New York Times website from June 7, 2018 says that by 2017, only one police officer had been sentenced to jail in 15 cases involving the killing of African Americans that had attracted wide public attention.

The double standards of US police are very much reflected in the ways that law enforcement handles different ethnic groups. On February 17, 2016 Paul Gaston, an African American who had just crashed his car and was confused about his surroundings, was shot and killed by three police officers in Cincinnati. The police said that Gaston was reaching for a gun that was later proven to be a fake. Just a day earlier, the Cincinnati police chose not to open fire at a white male who had pointed the same kind of fake gun at the police, but instead arrested him without a scratch and charged him with threatening the police. An article on the New York Daily News website commented that the different results of two similar incidents provides clear evidence of the great disparity in police treatment of African Americans and white people, and that double standards on ethnicity do exist in the US. The incidents referred to above are not isolated cases. A report on The Washington Post website from December 6, 2016 says that Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old white male, entered a restaurant in Northwest Washington with a semiautomatic rifle. Welch surrendered and walked out of the place with his back facing the police, unarmed and with his hands up. Police did not shoot him. In sharp contrast, on September 16, 2016 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old African American who had his hands up and his back turned to the police, was killed by white police officers who tasered him before shooting him.

Law enforcement in the US is rife with racial discrimination. First, African Americans are much more likely to be arrested by police than any other ethnic group. Statistics from 1,581 police stations showed that African Americans were three times more likely to be arrested than people from other ethnic groups; data from at least 70 police stations showed that African Americans were ten times more likely to be arrested than people from other ethnic groups, and some of these stations had arrested 26 times more African Americans.

Second, the police are in favor of white people in law enforcement. Data from police departments across the country show that in areas which practice “zero tolerance” in street-level law enforcement, police mainly arrested African Americans from poor neighborhoods while turning a blind eye to similar acts in affluent white neighborhoods. 

Third, police use entrapment strategies against minority groups. Of all the anti-narcotic operations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 91 percent of the suspects detained using entrapment strategies are racial minorities. A report of the American Civil Liberties Union says that Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and Whites, yet Blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Systemic racial discrimination plagues the judiciary of the US. A study by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that 51 percent Americans think that African Americans and other racial minorities suffer from unequal treatment in the criminal justice system, and 78 percent of African Americans think they are victims of unequal treatment of the judiciary. The incarceration rate for African American males is 5.9 times higher than the rate for white males, while the rate for African American females is 2.1 times higher than the rate for white females. African Americans only constitute about 13 percent of the US population, but they account for 36 percent of federal and state prisoners. 

The United States Sentencing Commission found that on average the terms for African American males were 19.1 percent longer than those for white males. The National Registry of Exonerations, analyzing relevant cases from 1989 to October 2016, concluded that African Americans are more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder, sexual assault, and drug-related crimes than white persons. Of the 1,900 defendants in known exoneration cases, 47 percent are African Americans. 

Annette Gordon-Reed, professor of American Legal History at Harvard University, once said that African Americans are not yet full citizens. Blacks, especially young African Americans, are presumed criminals and in practice they are denied full citizenship.

The UN is gravely concerned about racial discrimination in law enforcement and the judiciary of the US. In its 2016 report, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent of the UN Human Rights Council pointed out that the American government has failed to fulfill its duty of protecting the rights of African Americans, and that continued institutional and structural racism adversely affects African Americans’ civil rights, political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. The report criticized police violence and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, pointing out that most of such acts go unpunished. According to the report, “Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.” The report also found that the killing of unarmed African Americans by the police is only the tip of the iceberg in what is pervasive racial bias in the judiciary system.

2. Racial discrimination in the economic sector 

Racial discrimination places racial minorities in a disadvantaged position in employment, career development, earnings, and general economic conditions. Racial discrimination in the economic sector tends to be implicit, but has a decisive impact on the life of racial minorities. 

Racial minorities are disadvantaged in the job market. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from past years, people of African and Latin American ancestry have a much higher unemployment rate than those of Caucasian ancestry, and the racial differences as manifested in the employment rate have not changed with the changing economic situation. African Americans have an unemployment rate twice as high as white people, and Latinos about 40 percent higher than white people. 

Racial minorities face wage discrimination. According to the BLS data from 2010 to 2018, in terms of the median weekly earnings for full-time employees, African Americans had average wages about 30 percent lower than those of white people, and those of Latinos about 40 percent lower. An October 9, 2014 report on the USA Today website stated that in the same high-skilled positions such as computer programmers and software developers, Asians make US$8,146 less than whites per year. 

Racial minorities live in poverty and lack access to social welfare. According to a 2015 report by Cable News Network (CNN), the income gap between various ethnicities had widened further – the wealth possessed by white people was 12 times higher than that of African Americans and nearly 11 times higher than that of Latinos. According to research published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) on February 13, 2017, more than one in four black households have zero or negative net worth. Latinos made up 28.1 percent of the 45 million living in poverty among the total US population. 37 percent of 14.5 million children living in poverty were of Latin American ancestry. Some 26 percent of African Americans were living in poverty and 12 percent in extreme poverty. The proportion of those of African ancestry among all homeless people in the US was about four times the percentage of African Americans to the total population of the US. About 60 percent of shelter residents were racial minorities. In emergency shelter sites, the number of children of African ancestry under age five was 28 times higher than their counterparts of Caucasian ancestry. 

3. Racial discrimination in the social area

Racial minorities experience discrimination and bullying in educational institutions. According to civil rights data from the Department of Education for 2013 and 2014, of 2.8 million students who were suspended from school, 1.1 million were African Americans, and the likelihood of suspension for students of African ancestry was 2.8 times higher than that of white students. 

A study reveals that students of Asian ancestry are bullied at school more than those of other ethnicities. Some 54 percent teenagers of Asian ancestry reported that they had been bullied at school, while the proportions were 38.4 percent for those of African ancestry and 34.3 percent for those of Latin American ancestry. The likelihood of students of Asian ancestry being bullied on the internet is three times that of other ethnicities. 

Racial discrimination occurs frequently in commercial and industrial establishments. According to an October 23, 2013 report by The Huffington Post, Trayon Christian, a college student of African ancestry, bought a US$350 belt at Barneys in New York City, yet was suspected of fraud, handcuffed and arrested by police for interrogation even though he had shown the purchase receipt and his ID. His attorney Michael Palillo said, “His only crime is being a young black man.” According to a May 27, 2018 report by the Los Angeles Times, data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) showed that black applicants were rejected at more than double the rate of non-Hispanic white applicants on all types of loans; black and Hispanic applicants were subject to annual percentage rates (APRs) that were at least 1.5 percentage points above the “average prime offer rate” for loans of a similar type. 

Racial discrimination and racial segregation in the workplace has been explicit. A study revealed that obvious racial segregation was found in 19 of 58 industries investigated. According to a December 11, 2018 report by WFAA.com, an African American employee from Zodiac Seats US sued his employer for racial discrimination and hostile work environment, saying that his white coworkers called him “a black monkey”, and two female whites even left a noose in his workplace as retaliation after he had reported their use of racial slurs. 

African Americans have experienced various forms of implicit and explicit racial discrimination. According to an October 31, 2016 report by USA Today, research targeting Seattle and Boston on Uber taxi booking revealed that African Americans waited 30 percent longer than white people for Uber rides, and their appointments were canceled by drivers twice as frequently as those of the latter. According to a November 16, 2016 report by the Financial Times, an experiment conducted by Harvard Business School proved that implicit discrimination against African Americans is universal. When requesting accommodation, applicants with distinctively African-American names were 16 percent less likely to have their bookings accepted. This study also revealed that when the name used on a resume was distinctively African-American, job applicants were significantly less likely to get an interview than when identical applications with names that could be perceived as white.

4. Racial discrimination against Native Americans and other indigenous peoples

Indigenous people experienced serious economic and health problems. According to a February 15, 2011 report in the Daily Mail, statistics showed that more than 60 percent of the residents of Ziebach County in South Dakota, a community mainly composed of Native Americans, lived on or below the poverty line, and unemployment rates hit 90 percent in the winter. In 2013, James Anaya, the then UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, pointed out that indigenous peoples in the US had a poverty rate twice as high as the national average, and that their average life expectancy was 5.2 years shorter than the national mean.

Conspicuous problems exist in protecting the rights of indigenous women. On February 13, 2013, James Anaya pointed out that violence against indigenous women by non-indigenous residents was commonplace. According to an estimate by the US Department of Justice, the ratio of indigenous women who had been victims of violence was more than double the national average. As many as one third of indigenous women had suffered violence, and 80 percent of rape suspects were not indigenous people. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in reviewing the United States’ 7th-9th combined report on implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, demanded that the country prevent and fight violence against indigenous women, and ensure that all indigenous women victims of violence have access to justice and compensation.

5. Racial discrimination against Muslims

The US government carried out large-scale surveillance on Muslims. On December 1, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union asserted that the FBI, in violation of federal laws, used its pervasive unauthorized internet access to secretly collect intelligence on Muslims and some other organizations. A report by the Pew Research Center showed that 52 percent of US Muslims thought they were under government surveillance, 28 percent of Muslims claimed they had the experience of being mistaken for suspects, and 21 percent of Muslims said that they had to go through separate security checks at airports. A poll suggested that more than half of American Muslims believed that the government’s counter-terrorism policies involved additional surveillance and checks targeted solely against them.

Muslims suffered increasingly severe discrimination. On January 27, 2017, the US government issued an administrative order, banning citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering its territory. In view of the fact that Muslims form the majority of the population in all those countries, the order was widely interpreted as a “Muslim ban”, and it sparked widespread protests in the US and many other places across the world. In a survey by the Pew Research Center in early 2017, 75 percent of adult Muslims in America believed that discrimination against Muslims was pervasive in the country, while 69 percent of the general public held the same view. Half of Muslims felt that it had become more and more difficult to be a Muslim in the US in recent years.

Religious discrimination is on the rise as events involving insults and attacks against Muslims increased in number. Muslims make up less than one percent of the US population, but 14 percent of the religious discrimination cases investigated by the federal government have involved Muslims, as have one quarter of the religious discrimination cases in workplaces. In September 2012, an American director shot a film insulting the Islamic prophet and released it online, evoking waves of protest by Muslims across the globe. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of the FBI statistics on hate crime, attacks against Muslims in America grew significantly in number from 2015 to 2016, exceeding the peak level following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. According to an October 22, 2018 article on the website of The Guardian, the US midterm elections that year had seen a dramatic rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric. A report showed that conspiracy theories targeting Muslims had increasingly entered the political mainstream. More than a third of the candidates claimed that Muslims are inherently violent or pose an imminent threat, and just under a third of the candidates called for Muslims to be denied basic rights or declared that Islam is not a religion, the report found.

6. Racial discrimination against immigrants

The US government used slanders and violence against immigrants. The Washington Post reported on November 26, 2018 that the US authorities fired tear gas on multiple occasions at the US border with Mexico to stop immigrants from Central America, causing many injuries. On November 28, 2018, UN experts including Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children and Chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, jointly issued letters to voice their concerns about the racist and xenophobic languages and practices used by US authorities, which fly in the face of international human rights standards. The letters said that the official response in that country stigmatises migrants and refugees, equating them with crime and epidemics, which also fuels a climate of intolerance, racial hatred and xenophobia against those perceived as non-white, creating hostile emotional environments.

Immigration policies separating children from parents. The New York Times website reported on May 12, 2018 that the US government introduced a new “zero tolerance” policy, calling for criminal prosecution of everyone who enters the country illegally, in April. Minor children must be taken from the parents who are in custody in the process. As a result, more than 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents. This policy had drawn waves of strong criticism and protests from the US society and the international community. 

Women and children seeking asylum suffered from abuses and sexual assaults. The website of The Independent on May 23, 2018 said there has been a startling increase in the number of instances where US Border Patrol officers have abused children seeking shelter in the United States. It quoted a previous disclosure from the American Civil Liberties Union that detailed 116 incidents where officers were alleged to have physically, sexually, or psychologically abused children between the ages of five and 17. According to a report on the American Immigration Council website on August 30, the Atlanta City Detention Center, used by the US authorities to hold individuals in immigration proceedings, were found to have problems such as unsanitary environment and rampant use of lockdown and isolation. The New York Times website reported on November 12, 2018 that Esteban Manzanares, a Border Patrol agent in Texas, drove three women, including two teenagers, who crossed border to seek shelter, to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city. There he sexually assaulted one girl and viciously attacked two others and left them, finally, to bleed in the brush. The report said that over the past four years, at least 10 people in South Texas have been victims of murder, kidnapping or rape by Border Patrol agents. According to a report by the CNN on December 26, 2018, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala, died December 8 in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection, fewer than 48 hours after CBP detained her. Another 8-year-old Guatemalan boy, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, died late Christmas Eve in the agency’s custody.

Strong condemnation of the US immigration policies from UN institutions. A report of the UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 35/3, criticized the populism and the racist and xenophobic languages to describe immigrants used by the US administration as well as practices to separate children from their parents. It said these practices had imperiled the immigrants’ human rights, including their rights to life, dignity and liberty (UN document A/73/206). According to the report of the ninety-third session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance prepared pursuant to a UN General Assembly resolution, the phenomena of promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred have long existed in American society. The United States failed to unequivocally reject and contain racist violent events and demonstrations. High-level politicians and public officials, including the President, propagated nationalist and populist remarks, and published racist and xenophobic statements on print and social media (UN documents A/73/18, A/73/312, A/73/305). 

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.” 

III. Systemic Racial Problems in the US

Deeply rooted in the history and realities of the United States, racial discrimination is a structural obstacle to the realization of equal rights and status for racial minorities, and also a profound cause of societal breakdown in the country.

The problem has existed since the US history began. Slaughter and displacement of Native Americans occurred throughout the colonial period and the Western Movement period. Over a period of several hundred years from the establishment of the North American colonies to the Civil War, the slave trade flourished, and numerous African slaves died from labor and abuse. The gradual abolition of racial segregation against African Americans did not begin until the mid-20th century. In the past Asian laborers too suffered serious discrimination, with the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act as an example. Such racial discrimination has persisted in various forms throughout the country’s history.

The US state institutions and its social system have failed in eliminating racial discrimination. Violent law enforcement, deadly shootings, entrapment, stop-and-frisk search have been commonplace. Discrimination against racial minorities in employment, promotion and pay is a hidden practice in large companies and institutions. Financial institutions and housing agencies collaborate to maintain residential separation between different races. The social system’s underpinning role and the state institutions’ dereliction of duties have subjected US minorities to inevitable discrimination in many respects including politics, economy, culture, and social life.

All racial minorities in the US suffer racial discrimination to various extents. In essence, the United States is still a country of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. All other races, ethnic groups, and religious and cultural communities endure levels of discrimination, and either overt or covert infringements of their human rights. Even white Latino people cannot avoid the impact of racial discrimination.

In 2008, many groups in the US, including the mainstream media, cheered for the election of African American Barack Obama as president, regarding the event as the end of American racism and a new beginning for the eradication of racial discrimination in the country. However, over the following eight years race relations deteriorated to their worst in over two decades, as police shootings of African Americans still occurred frequently and the “Black Lives Matter” campaign surged in response. Even Obama himself acknowledged that he suffered discrimination during his tenure as president. “What is also true is that … discrimination in almost every institution of our lives … casts a long shadow. And that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on,” the president said. The end of racial discrimination still remains no more than the “dream” expressed by Martin Luther King.

Since 2016, white supremacy has been renascent in the United States. The extreme right-wing rally in Charlottesville in 2017, and the racist violence that ensued, cast a shadow over race relations in the country.

Racial discrimination in the US has deep and profound causes. It has become a grievous social problem for the country, and is now a flashpoint for social conflict.

For all its self-styled positioning as a defender of human rights, the United States has neither the will nor the ability to solve the severe problem of racial discrimination on its own territory. This exposes the institutional and structural defects of the US, and the hypocrisy of its discourse on human rights. The status of race relations in the US is determined by the country’s political structure, historical traditions and ideology. Without reform of these, there can be no way to break through the impasse in racial discrimination and end the resulting vicious circle in race relations, and the proper protection of the human rights of racial minorities cannot happen.