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Atmosphere of Racial Fear Engulfs America

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By Janice S. Ellis, PhD, Kansas City, MO –

An atmosphere of racial fear engulfs America, along with racial hatred, suspicion and disrespect. If we are honest with ourselves, we know it exists in our community and  communities all across the nation. Why, and how did we get here in 2016?

Why? Why are we seeing so much gun violence and loss of life as a result of a wanton, often baseless racial fear? From the killing of a black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and another in Minneapolis, Minnesota by white police to the killing of five policemen by a lone black gunman, all within a week. Relations between blacks and police seem to be getting worse not better. How can we see incidents like these and not acknowledge that an atmosphere of racial fear engulfs America?

But, why? One basic reason is because after the feelings of shock and horror subside after each horrific incident, and another issue grabs our attention, we go on with business as usual. Most of us never stop long enough to honestly examine the attitudes, conditions and practices that exist around us, fueling the atmosphere of racial fear that engulfs America.

Atmosphere of racial fear engulfs America

Atmosphere of racial fear engulfs America. Photo Credit: pbs.org

How do we continue to be stuck in a place where we allow racial bigotry, much of which is ill-founded, to govern our thoughts and actions, still in 2016? This atmosphere of racial fear, hatred, suspicion and disrespect is not new to America. We only have to look at our checkered history of race relations, from the pernicious institution of slavery, a blatant Jim Crow justice system, to stubborn inequality and discrimination when it comes to access to quality educational, employment and housing – even the basic right to vote.

Yes, we have made some progress, but too many of us still believe that there is no race relations problem or we deny that the root causes of an atmosphere of racial fear and hatred have nothing to do with us. We are all too willing to absolve ourselves of any responsibility in why or how race is still a divisive issue in America.

It is like a recurring cancer. And, like cancer, it can and will kill us if we miss the chance to take definitive and real actions to eradicate it. This atmosphere of racial hatred engulfs America and could at a minimum radically effect our quality of life.

The killing of two black men and a five police officers, all in one week in three cities with protests across America, is a watershed and epochal moment. As policy makers, elected officials, community leaders, law enforcement, educators, employers, and regular ordinary citizens, we can choose business as usual at our own peril.

What will we finally do about racist policies, practices and pervasive racism in America?

Feature Photo Credit: wearebetterthanthis.com

Atmosphere of Racial Fear Engulfs America

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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis
Janice S. Ellis, PhD, is an award-winning author. Her book, From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major book sellers. She has written a column for newspapers, radio, and now online, where she analyzes educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. You can see her writings on this website.


  1. Winona Foster says:

    America has a terrible racism problem. It’s already 20freaking18 and concepts like equal opportunities still have to be spelled out for all of us to understand.

  2. David Mureithi says:

    There are many cases these days in the US which are based on racial. This should not be happening in this era.

  3. Mickey says:

    I guess because of power or this is a factor. Sometimes fear of losing power that we end up being racist.

  4. Anna says:

    I can’t believe that in this time and age racism still exists and will continually exist. It’s really sad reality that each of us must do something about.

  5. Maury Cheskes says:

    It’s an ongoing issue and just when you think we’ve made progress more incidents like in Baton Rouge occur. I think it would be very beneficial to have seminars in schools about racial inequality and the need for equity. If advocates for this cause reach students at a young age, I think it will help shape a brighter future for America.

  6. vikram parmar says:

    The shock and fear goes down after the incident. Some other issue crops up and everything eventually gets normal.

  7. berry says:

    I can totally relate to this, this gruesome murder because of race should be looked into or else people will be in greater fear which is not good for one’s health. This shouldn’t be business as usual, more hands should be on deck to stems this.

  8. Kuttan says:

    The world is becoming more and more vivid and diverse and accumulating different aspects of this cultural phenomenon into it but instead of absorbing this wonderful aspects of this diversity we have sort to conflicts wit its difference

  9. Justin Pascual says:

    I strongly agree that racial fear is utterly prevalent in our society right now. Not only in America, but in a lot of countries as well. We cannot deny that some human rights violations are also caused by racial discrimination. Indeed, we have already been more developed when it comes to our views on the diverse races and culture. However, until we stop “tolerating” and start respecting and accepting, that’s the only time that we could totally get over this issue of racism.

  10. Enyi says:

    Apt post,you just wrote it the way it is.No denying the fact that most people are living in fear even though we don’t want to admit.The fact still remains that we will all be consumed by this if drastic measures aren’t put in place to curb it.

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