I believe that people in the US should all have the same rights in order to truly be American. But one may ask, what does it mean to be an “American”?
Some say it means to make a change, and to make sure its a good change. Others say it means to be hard working and to have freedom. However, almost everyone can agree that whatever it means to be “American” entails abiding by the laws of our justice system and constitution.
Personally, I believe being American means not having to fight for fairness or justice and equal treatment under the law because it should already be provided. However, despite the fact that it is clearly stated in the fourteenth amendment that all citizens are granted equal protection and punishment under the law, this isn’t always enforced.
During the Reconstruction, the Black Codes in Opelousas, Louisiana were passed to to limit the freedom of African Americans and ensure they would always be available as a cheap labor force after slavery was abolished during the Civil War. Under these codes, black people couldn’t own or carry any kind of weapon. They couldn’t make any seditious speeches, insulting gestures, language, or acts towards white people , no matter what was said or done to them. Black people couldn’t even buy or consume alcohol.
Today, these laws may be outlawed, but black people still face the same unequal treatment under the law that they did during the Reconstruction, both in their protection and punishment. For example, in Texas, two 17-year old boys are both being tried for violent crimes. The first one, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, killed 10 people and injured 10 others in a fatal school shooting. He is white and will not be given the death penalty and will have the opportunity for parole. The second one, Taymor Travon McIntyre, better known by his stage name Tay-K, killed two people and was charged with armed robbery. He is black and will be facing the death penalty. This not only demonstrates unequal punishment, but unfair punishment as well, which is explicitly outlawed in the 14th amendment.
In conclusion, In order for our country to truly embody what it means to be American, we have to first enforce the laws which make us so. This starts by ending the racial discrimination when it comes to punishment under the law. There are too many people of color getting worse punishments and longer sentences than white people committing worse or larger scale crimes. Once we fix that, we will be one step closer to fixing our broken justice system and truly becoming “American” as a nation.black america photoblack america photo

CC BY-SA 4.0 Inequality? For MY Black America? It’s More Likely Than You Think by Ashley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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