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Prejudice is still a problem

By Kenya Smith

A few weeks ago, we witnessed incidents of hatred and bigotry.

On Oct. 24, Gregory Bush shot and killed two people, Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, at a Kroger store in Jeffersontown, Ky. According to a witness, the motive behind the shooting was due to the victims being African-Americans, for the gunman told a white bystander that “Whites don’t kill whites.”

Unfortunately, this tragedy will be not be classified as a hate crime because state law does not apply the hate crime statute in murder cases.

In Pittsburgh, Pa., Robert Gregory Bowers opened fire at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue during Shabbat service, leaving 11 people dead and six injured. He has been known to express anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant views on a website called Gab.

Even though we are seeing more and more of these incidents thanks to social media and the news, many people will refuse to accept the fact that bigotry and prejudice are still problems in America. Prejudice is still alive in this country, and only way we can fight it is not by being silent, like some people want us to do. For years, the only way that racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia were brought up has been through the actions of those who carry these mindsets. Here’s how.

For example, the topic of racism was brought up when Dylan Roof opened fire at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and killed nine parishioners. The issue of homophobia was discussed when Omar Mateen opened fire at the Pulse Night club in Orlando, Fla., and killed 49 people. Sexism was brought up when a judge gave a man a slap on the wrist for sexually assaulting a woman in Anchorage, Alaska. Xenophobia was brought up when an elderly man from Mexico was harassed by a woman who told him to go back to his country.

We cannot pretend that prejudice is no longer a problem in this country. Although we have passed laws that prohibit discrimination, there’s still work that needs to be done. Therefore, we cannot stop; we need to keep it moving. America is great when her people learn how to treat people with dignity and respect, regardless of their differences.

My heart goes out to the victims and their families who were affected by the tragedies that happened in Louisville and in Pittsburgh. I hope that we as a nation will learn to become better in treating people with dignity, value and respect, because these tragedies can happen anywhere at any time.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native. Email her at s.kenya43@yahoo.com.