Letter to the Editor: America: The Great Radicalizer


Ivana Martinez

Police in riot gear surround and block in protesters in the streets of Salt Lake City on July 9, 2020. (Photo by Ivana Martinez | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Damon Ngô


Over 130,000 Americans are dead because of COVID-19. Over 40,000,000 Americans are out of work. In 2019, 999 Americans were killed by police. As protests occur all across the country, in all 50 states, it is time that we ask ourselves one simple question. Why has it taken so long?

By almost all accounts, Black Americans continue to suffer from large racial inequalities. According to the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances in 2016, the median net worth of black households in America is about 10% of the median net worth of white households. Similarly, in 2018, the Census Bureau found that the poverty rate of Black Americans is over double the rate for White Americans. These disparities are made even more apparent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Black people only make up 13% of the United States population, they make up 23% of all COVID-19 deaths. It is quite clear that the harmful policies that this country has had throughout its history and still continues to practice are still hurting the Black community in our country.

Our Black neighbors have spent generations building a country that was never meant for them. They have accrued wealth and prosperity for others in this country for centuries, and every time that they have built any for themselves, it has been stolen from them. America continues to treat Black lives as expendable, and that is becoming quite clear in how our Black neighbors are policed. Their labor, work and bodies have been exploited for far too long.

How can we ask the Black community to protest a certain way, behave a certain way or even dress a certain way when the only thing that’s ever resulted in is their continued suffering, exploitation and even death? What reason do they have to continue upholding the status quo and not shifting to “radical” forms of unrest?

The United States of America has always presided on stolen land and will always have been built on the backs of slaves. America only became a global power through the colonization of those abroad. Additionally, America continues to fuel itself through the sweat and blood of the marginalized both here and abroad. America in and of itself is the greatest radicalizer of its own citizens. Those in power will continue to cite “outside influences and agitators,” but they must understand that the very fabric of this country is built upon radical unrest and ideas. LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, women’s rights and even the very founding of our country was built upon revolutionary action. How can the United States continue to perpetuate inequality, injustice and the exploitation of its most marginalized and expect no reaction? To be radical and to show displeasure with the status quo is the most American thing to do.

So when you say, “this is not the America that I know,” or “this is not what our country is built upon,” I want you to revisit the history of this country. Don’t ask why these people are so radical, ask why aren’t I radical? The time is long overdue for all of us to be true patriots and to rise up. It’s time to get this knee off the necks of our most marginalized.

— Damon Ngô, student at the University of Utah

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