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Amid pandemic, black Americans also face the cancer of racism

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By James Revels

For the past 34 years, I attempted to shine the light of awareness on the impact of bigotry and racism on the lives of black Americans. Since the 2016 elections, “bigotry surfaced in ways we assumed were no longer relevant, and racism was normalized. The xenophobic and divisive rhetoric expressed has unsurprisingly formed a polluted watering hole for those who thirst for ways to demonize other Americans,” wrote Connell Williams Brooks, CEO of the NAACP. 

Bigotry and racism runs deeper in the soul of America than imagined.

Jim Revels is a retired Army colonel and longtime El Paso resident.

The wisdom of this sage observation can be seen in the continuing death of black Americans by police officers. Now, while surviving a pandemic, black Americans are still in danger from those infected by the cancer of racism. 

A young black man was killed in his apartment in Dallas, by a police officer. A female EMT, in Louisville, Ky., was also killed by police, without justice. Another black man was killed while jogging in Georgia in February. Those responsible were only arrested in May, after public outrage. Most recently, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, spawning protests and riots.

This carnage is fueled by the 2016 election results. Believing racial unrest benefits his re-election efforts, the 45th continues to add fuel to the flames of divisiveness, by constantly referring to protesters as thugs. For most black Americans, enough is enough.

Since the appointment of the 45th, the America that has emerged is not recognizable. Racial intolerance has been canonized and hate crimes increased. This outcome is visible consequence of using fear as a political ploy. Now, that fear has economic impact. Black Americans account for a disproportionate share of deaths and unemployment caused by COVID-19, and the resulting scourge of fear.

Battles for equality, racial justice and freedom, fought and won years ago, must now be fought again. Who could imagine, in the midst of a global pandemic, this country would still be grappling with overt racism and bigotry, flowing from the White House? 

Surviving a pandemic, while black, can result in calls to the police that end in deaths. For many young black men, death by police is their greatest challenge and fear. This should not be allowed to continue.

To witness a return of the scourge of racism and hate is clear evidence of the importance of elections. Justice and democracy flourish when citizens are well informed and take their civic duties seriously. Clearly, that did not happen in 2016, but a new day of reckoning is coming.

James Revels is a retired Army colonel and former columnist for the El Paso Times who lives in East El Paso.

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