This election season is a struggle for opportunity. It is irrelevant whether one is poor or rich, white or black, gay or straight, us or them. All anyone wants is a level-playing field without qualifications.
It is disingenuous then to say, "Kids, the American Dream is real! If everyone works hard enough, they will undoubtedly be able to lift themselves up into prosperity. Trust us!", because we all know that's not really the case.
So let's qualify!
"Kids, the American Dream is real! If everyone works hard enough, they will undoubtedly be able to lift themselves up into prosperity. Trust us! Oh well actually, that's only if you're a white male. If you're a white female, it'll probably take a bit longer than average. If you're black, good luck with that! You'll probably end up joining a gang, but maybe you'll be another Kanye, but not likely, and just completely forget about it if you're from the Middle East."
Now, I am exaggerating, but let's look at some facts.
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, of all the bachelor's degrees granted for the 2009-2010 school year, only 10.3% of the total amount were granted to African Americans, 8.8% were granted to Hispanics, and only 7.3% were conferred to Asian/Pacific Islanders. The majority of 72.9% went to White people.
- According to the Institute for Research on Poverty, in 2014 the percentage of the total population that was considered poor was at 14.8%. The percentage of African Americans who were considered poor was at 26.2%. In the same year, the percentage for Hispanics was at 23.6%, and the percentage for White people was at 12.7%.
- According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, white men accounted for 60.1% and black men accounted for 36.9% of arrests for violent crimes in 2012. That being said, noted criminology professor, James Alan Fox published statistics showing that black men were almost seven times more likely to be arrested for a violent crime than white men.
I will admit that the reasons for these statistics individually can be complicated and nuanced, but when you start to take these facts together it's hard to ignore at the very very least the appearance of systemic racism that is rampant in our country. If you want to read more check this, this, and this out.
So let's examine the two sides, scandals ignored.
On the right, we have a candidate who intends to severely curb immigration to this country. He claims to stand up for the rights of white people who have been forgotten about and ignored. He sees everything as an US vs. THEM mentality. If everyone else would just leave, all our problems would be cured. He talks about the American Dream that is gone and yearns for the days when America WAS great. (the 50s?) He talks about isolation.
On the left, we have a candidate who talks about opening up our borders and welcoming more immigrants to this nation. She claims to embrace the age-old idea of America as a melting pot. She advocates for helping to level the playing-field for everyone. She has an ALL of US mentality. If we are ALL lifted up, then society becomes better as a whole. She talks about inclusion.
And so, I'm left with two thoughts.
First, when have white people ever been ignored or forgotten about? Just consider this! Throughout our over two-hundred year history, white males are the only group that has been consistently able to vote. Thankfully, that's not the case now, but there are still many aspects of racial inequality in the nation even within the same socio-economic sub groups of people. All any other group of people wants is an equal playing field.
"Going to school" should mean the same thing to everyone no matter of race. "Poor" should mean the same thing to everyone no matter of race. "What a criminal looks like" should mean the same thing to everyone no matter of race. "Problems" should mean the same thing to everyone no matter of race.
Second, this election has become a battle between seeing the good in America and seeing the bad. Sadly, immigrants and minorities have fallen on the bad-side in a lot of people's minds. Let me give you some more facts that may help dispute that.
- "Despite being 13 percent of the population, immigrants comprise 16 percent of the labor force. Moreover, many immigrants are business owners. In fact, the share of immigrant workers who own small businesses is slightly higher than the comparable share among U.S.-born workers. (Immigrants comprise 18 percent of small business owners.)" Source
- "Unauthorized immigrants are a net positive for public budgets because they contribute more to the system than they take out. Unauthorized immigrants generally cannot receive benefits from government programs, except in some cases, such as when unauthorized immigrant children receive public education, and in some states that allow unauthorized immigrants to attend state colleges at in-state tuition rates. Nevertheless, most of these unauthorized immigrants will still pay taxes. The vast majority pay sales taxes in states with sales taxes, and property taxes through properties that they own or rent. Additionally, most unauthorized immigrant workers also pay payroll and income taxes. The Social Security Administration estimates that 75 percent of unauthorized immigrants are actually on formal payrolls, either using fraudulent Social Security numbers or Social Security numbers of the deceased.17 Unauthorized immigrants pay into Social Security via automatic payroll deductions, but they can never claim Social Security benefits. In 2005, it was estimated that unauthorized immigrants paid about $7 billion per year in Social Security taxes that they will never be able to reclaim." Source
- "One way to quantify immigrants’ contribution to the U.S. economy is to look at the wages and salaries they earn, as well as the income of immigrant-owned businesses, as a share of all wages, salaries, and business income in the United States. For the United States as a whole, immigrants’ share of total output was about 14.7 percent over 2009–2011. Note that this is actually larger than immigrants’ 13 percent share of the population." Source
As this election season FINALLY draws to a close, here is a quote from President Obama to remind everyone that immigrants are to be welcomed. This mixing of cultures is in our blood. Let's embrace it instead of reject it. Vote with that in mind.
"The lesson of these 236 years is clear – immigration makes America stronger. Immigration makes us more prosperous. And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century. And these young men and women are testaments to that. No other nation in the world welcomes so many new arrivals. No other nation constantly renews itself, refreshes itself with the hopes, and the drive, and the optimism, and the dynamism of each new generation of immigrants. You are all one of the reasons that America is exceptional. You’re one of the reasons why, even after two centuries, America is always young, always looking to the future, always confident that our greatest days are still to come."
-President Obama, 2013-