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The ulcer of US racial conflicts will worsen

By Guo Jiulin | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-07-21 15:34

US President Donald Trump listens as he stands in front of a chart during the daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House in Washington, US, March 31, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

As of July 20, the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has reached more than 3.7 million, and 140,157 people have died. The enormous death toll did not cause great discontent and protests against the federal government, while the death of an ordinary young Black man under the knee of a White police officer triggered unprecedented nationwide protests and riots, which are still going on in the streets of large cities with no sign of ending.

More puzzling is the fact that politicians in the US haven't the slightest interest in putting out the fire and getting their home in order. Their only interest is to make trouble in the South China Sea, find a scapegoat for their irresponsible epidemic control, and win the election.

It seems that the United States has totally lost its direction and become irritable in the process. Netizens use words such as "crazy", "paranoid", "self-absorbed", "misguided" and "out-of-time" to describe the US. No matter which word you choose, one thing is certain: the US is obviously a danger to itself and others.

Behind the long list of clumsy operations by the Trump administration in handling the present crisis is arrogance and unwillingness as well as inability and hypocrisy among White elites. They have no sense of shame for their original sin to people of color thus far.

This mentality is doomed to incur deeper racial hatred and an unavoidable split in the US, which will face more danger in the foreseeable future.

The influx of Latinx people will increase their population in the US, particularly in southern states, and White elites will have to deal with even more thorny racial conflicts than the current ones. The domestic push and US pull in the past several decades have made Latinx people the largest minority group. Most of them were cheap physical laborers denied access to US social welfare. As the most influential minority in US, new generations of America-born Latinx people began to ask for equal status as American citizens and this will create large-scale conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics, English and Spanish languages, the White American and Latinx lifestyles.

Racial problems will mean the US will never be a magnet for talented immigrants from around the world. Americans are proud of US being a melting pot nation and a haven for immigrants. However, longstanding distrust toward Asian scientists and engineers as well as institutional discrimination against people of color in employment, promotions, education and housing make them feel like strangers in America, and they will never be welcomed into the White world, no matter how excellent they are. The rootless and insecure feeling of these immigrants will prompt them to look for a real home to settle down in. At the same time, the federal government response, White racism, and street violence during the epidemic have further made them determined to leave. So far, more than 1.6 million Americans have chosen to live in Europe and other booming countries.

The racial conflicts in the long run will definitely erode national identity and may even lead to a split in the US. Americans used to be glued together by their pride in the US political system, respect for human rights, active civil society, free press, equality between men and women, and market-oriented economy. The Census Bureau of 2012 shows that by 2044 the US will be made up of a kaleidoscope of racial groups, including Latinx people, Blacks, Asians, Native Americans and multiracial Americans, meaning Whites will no longer be a racial majority. However, the dramatic polarization of social wealth in the past decades and the indifference of the establishment to death toll caused by the epidemic proves that their system is not a world model but a world joke. The harsh reality is eroding Americans' confidence in their governments, party politics and economic future. The lack of national identity would unavoidably lead to the derailing of the US mosaic and cause collapse in the end.

The author is professor of American studies and dean of Chinese Language and Literature, Dalian Minzu University.

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