Racial equality still a dream in the US

Updated: 2013-07-27 08:28

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

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Yet some hard facts cannot mask the reality that African-Americans are still far from being fully equal in the US.

Every time I pass by the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library in Washington D.C., the people lining up waiting for the shelter transport bus are almost all blacks.

According to official figures, the infant mortality rate for African-Americans is 2.4 times that of whites, and the maternal mortality rate is 3.3 times greater for the black population than for the white population.

The unemployment rate for blacks, more than 13 percent, is almost twice as high as that for whites. And a Pew Center survey shows that the median wealth of white households is many times that of black households. Besides, the US prisons house a disproportionately high number of black and Hispanic inmates.

The residents of the poorest neighborhoods are almost all blacks, and public schools where the majority of students are blacks have much higher dropout rates and poor academic records.

It is shameful that at the start of the 21st century, the words of King's "I have a Dream" speech still ring true 50 years on.

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned."

Therefore, the US should set its own house in order before trying to claim the moral high ground.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA. chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com

(China Daily 07/27/2013 page5)

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