As June-end approaches, social networking sites in the United States are full of remembrances for George Stinney Jr, the youngest person sentenced to death and executed in the US in the 20th century.
The 14-year-old was executed by electric chair on June 16, 1944, after being convicted for the murder of two white girls. Some 70 years later a judge found him innocent; the police officers investigating the case had framed him.
The Stinney case verdict could be overturned because the civil rights movement in the US gained currency. However, the discrimination against people of color, especially African Americans, has not ended altogether.
Whenever a crime is committed, any African American found near the scene of the crime is among the first to be suspected, and the police seem to reserve their harshest measures for them. The case of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed African American who died handcuffed and gasping for breath under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in 2020, is a notorious example of this.
In October 2021, a survey conducted by US agencies showed that the possibility of African Americans being imprisoned is 4.8 times that of white people in the US. It is even higher, 12.5 times, in New Jersey.
Even before the US became independent, a large number of slaves were bought from Africa to labor in US plantations, while colonial forces massacred indigenous people in their lands. It was only after World War II that things improved, but they got worse again with social disparity deepening in the US. Democrats and Republicans hate each other; Asians are stigmatized as “virus spreaders”, Latinos are treated like “beggars”, while Africans are suspected of every possible crime.
What the US needs is for all groups to recognize their common identity as Americans. The road ahead is still long and full of difficulties.