By Junye Zhang
On Dec. 5, 2021, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a report on its website titled "The State of Democracy in the United States."
This series of infographics centers on the second section of the text, "Messy and chaotic practices of democracy." This section illustrates that democracy in the US has gone wrong, which is reflected not only in its system design and general structure, but also in the way it is put into practice. The gunshots and farce on Capitol Hill have completely revealed what is underneath the gorgeous appearance of the American-style democracy. The death of Black American George Floyd has laid bare the systemic racism that exists in American society for too long, and spurred a deluge of protests rippling throughout the country and even the whole world.
While the COVID-19 pandemic remains out of control in the US, the issue of mask-wearing and vaccination has triggered further social division and confrontation. Dividends of economic growth are distributed unfairly, and income growth has stalled for most ordinary people for a long period of time. The American-style democracy can hardly uphold public order and ethics, nor advance public well-being to the fullest.
Here are highlights from part two of the text: Entrenched racism.
(2) Entrenched racism
Racism is an indelible blot on democracy in the US. While advocating “all men are created equal”, the founding fathers of the US left the institution of slavery untouched in the Constitution of 1789. Today, although racial segregation has been ostensibly abolished in the US, white supremacy is still rife and rampant across the country. Discrimination against Black Americans and other racial minorities remains a systemic phenomenon.
American society has experienced relapses of its malaise of racial discrimination from time to time. On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, a Black American, lost his life in Minnesota because of law enforcement violence by the police. “I can’t breathe” — Floyd’s desperate plea for life before his death — sparked public outrage. Afterwards, protests and demonstrations erupted in about 100 cities across the 50 states of America, demanding justice for Floyd and protesting against racial discrimination. The demonstrations continued more than 100 days after the incident.
What happened to George Floyd is merely an epitome of the tragic plight of Black Americans over the past centuries. Sandra Shullman, Past President of the American Psychological Association, says that America is in “a racism pandemic”. The dream of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. remains unrealized. According to an editorial of The Indian Express, a mainstream newspaper of India, American racism has endured, subverting the country’s deepest democratic institutions in the process.
In February 2021, Stanford News, a website of Stanford University, carried an article examining systemic racism in the US. The article suggests that in education, youth of color are more likely to be closely watched; in the criminal justice system, people of color, particularly Black men, are disproportionately targeted; and in the economy and employment, from who moves forward in the hiring process to who receives funding from venture capitalists, Black Americans and other minority groups are discriminated against in the workplace and economy-at-large. A study by the University of Washington finds that around 30,800 people died from police violence between 1980 and 2018 in the US, which is about 17,100 higher than the official figure. It also indicates that African Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police violence than white Americans.
The anger erupting across America is not just Black anger, but across racial lines. An article published on the website of The Jerusalem Post of Israel notes that American Jews are concerned about right-wing antisemitism and violence driven by white supremacist groups. According to annual surveys conducted by the American Jewish Committee, in 2020, 43% US Jews feel less secure than a year ago, and in 2017, 41% say antisemitism is a serious problem in the US, up from 21% in 2016, 21% in 2015, and 14% in 2013.
The bullying of Americans of Asian descent is increasing in the US. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been growing cases of Asian Americans humiliated or attacked in public places. Statistics from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate that hate crimes against people of Asian descent rose by 76% in the US in 2020. From March 2020 to June 2021, the organization Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hate received over 9,000 incident reports. A survey of young Asian Americans on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) website shows that in the past year, a quarter of young Asian Americans became targets of racial bullying, nearly half of the respondents expressed pessimism about their situation, and a quarter of the respondents expressed fear about the situation of themselves and their families.