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US racial tensions reveal divided society

China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-23 07:24

Editor's note: The Charlottesville riots have exposed the racial divide in the US. Two scholars share their views on the issue with China Daily. Excerpts follow:

Song Chen/China Daily

Trump should take some of the blame

The white nationalists' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug 11 to protest against the city administration's plans to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general in the American Civil War, turned into violent riots when the protestors clashed with counter-protestors. One person was killed and 34 people were injured when a car driven by a white supremacist plowed into a crowd of counter-protestors.

The white nationalists' rally brought together not only white supremacists but also neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, raising people's concern at the rapid rise of white nationalists in the United States.

White supremacy has been gaining ground in recent times for a number of reasons. Due to changes in the ethnic mix of the US population and the immigration pattern in the past years, whites will cease to be the majority in the future, and the cultural and religious diversity in the country will widen. And since many whites want to maintain their dominant role in the US, they seem rattled by the possibility of such changes in the future.

Complicating the matter is the decline of the US' manufacturing industry, which has resulted in the loss of jobs and a relatively high unemployment rate. But many white people wrongly believe blacks and immigrants are stealing their jobs.

Besides, US President Donald Trump has something to do with the rise of white supremacists. The white conservatism and anti-immigration stance he propounded during his campaign trail are but a form of white supremacy. As US president, too, his policies, such as banning Muslims from some countries from entering the US reflect white nationalistic beliefs. Worse, instead of condemning the white supremacists for the Charlottesville violence, Trump at first blamed "all sides".

The Charlottesville riots indicate the US never enjoyed complete racial harmony. Systemic, comprehensive and persistent racial discrimination, which can be attributed to white supremacy, is at the root of the racial tensions in the US. If the US doesn't check white supremacy, the Charlottesville riots could be the precursor to graver racial conflicts.

Hao Yaming is a researcher at the Center for the Study of Human Rights, Nankai University, Tianjin

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