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  • Writer's pictureRobyn Short

Modern-Day Injustices Perpetrated Against African-Americans

African-Americans experience injustice and oppression through structural racism in almost every aspect of modern society.

African-Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population and 43% of the prison population

The thirteenth amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in the form that existed in 1865, but allowed a caveat for slavery to continue as punishment for a crime. This caveat transformed slavery in the United States. America now has more African-Americans incarcerated than were enslaved in 1865. Although African-Americans represent only 13 percent of the population, they represent 43 percent of the prison population. In fact, one in three black men born today can expect to serve time in prison during his lifetime. According to the Sentencing Project, African-Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as white Americans do for a violent offense (61.7 months). And while in prison, the prison system enslaves these individuals, forcing them to work without pay to produce commercial and agricultural products that bring profit to the prison system as well as to corporations that pay the prison system for the forced labor of the incarcerated individuals. Prison labor is a booming business, and slavery is alive and well within it.

When these individuals are released from prison, their earning capacity has shrunk significantly. Prison reduces work time of young people over the next decade by 25 to 30 percent when compared with arrested youths who were not incarcerated. This means that individuals who are incarcerated as teenagers or young adults are at a significant disadvantage to meet their financial responsibilities to their families and communities. They are often barred from contributing to the democratic process through voting; from being eligible for employment; from accessing housing; from receiving funding for education; and they are locked out of a myriad other welfare services. They continue to suffer long after they have paid their debt to society.

African-Americans experience injustice and oppression through structural racism in almost every aspect of modern society.

Criminal Injustice: In addition to the previously mentioned statistics, police departments across the nation continue to deliver extreme forms of violence against African-Americans. For example, unarmed African-American are seven times more likely than unarmed white men to die by police gunfire.

Employment Injustice: For the last six decades, the unemployment rate among African-Americans is double that among whites, averaging about 2.2 times that of whites.

Educational Injustice: Racial minority students are disproportionately punished through suspension and expulsion and receive longer suspension sentences. And schools with majority low-income African Americans and Latino youth rely significantly upon the extensive use of suspensions and expulsions, and even law enforcement, to enforce discipline. The disparate disciplinary enforcement of minority juveniles appears regardless of whether the educational institution is affluent or not.

Housing Injustice: This chart demonstrates the injustice that occurs in housing.

Health Care Injustice: Structural racism and privilege continue to put a serious toll on the African-American community’s health and contribute to the fact that African-Americans die younger than white Americans.

> Racial discrimination puts African-Americans at risk for long-term health problems

> The majority of doctors harbor unconscious racial biases toward

> African-American patients African-Americans scientists are systematically underfunded

> African-Americans are less likely to have access to surgical and emergency medical care

> African-Americans are more likely to patronize hospitals that employ less-experienced staff

> African-Americans are less likely to receive high-quality primary care


Alexander, Michelle. New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Place of Publication Not Identified: New, 2016. Print.

NAACP. "Criminal Justice Fact Sheet." NAACP. NAACP, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <>.

Somashekhar, Sandhya, Wesley Lowery, Keith K. Alexander, Kimberly Kindy, and Julie Tate. "The 24 Unarmed Black Men Who Have Died in 2015." The Washington Post. WP Company, 8 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.


DeSilver, Drew. "Black Unemployment Rate Is Consistently Twice That of Whites." Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 21 Aug. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.


The Leadership Conference. "Education." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The Leadership Conference, 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.


Culp-Ressler, Tara. "Why Racism Is A Public Health Issue." ThinkProgress. ThinkProgress, 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <>.

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