Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in America…!

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PART of the US Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Today, this statement is used as some proof that America is a land of opportunity.
‘The American Dream’ is basically the notion that the nation’s set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) provide a level playing field for anyone regardless of class and circumstances of birth to prosper and succeed.
However, the reality is that America is not the land of opportunity, it has become a the land of discrimination, abject poverty, where money buys you a voice and a place at the table, while the majority of Americans who do not have the money or the connections are left to fend for themselves.
According to Wikipedia, the US has been internationally criticised for its human rights record, including the least protection for workers of most Western countries, the imprisonment of debtors and the criminalisation of homelessness and poverty, the invasion of the privacy of its citizens through surveillance programmes, police brutality, police impunity, the incarceration of citizens for profit, the mistreatment of prisoners and juveniles in the prison system, having the longest prison sentences of any country, being the last Western country with a death penalty, abuses of illegal immigrants including children, the continued support for foreign dictators who commit abuses (including genocide), forced disappearances, extraordinary renditions, extrajudicial detentions, torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and black sites, as well as extrajudicial targeted killings (Disposition Matrix).
The first few paragraphs of the Human Rights Watch 2018 Report on the US read: “The strong civil society and democratic institutions of the United States were tested in the first year of the administration of President Donald Trump.
Across a range of issues in 2017, the US moved backward on human rights at home and abroad. 
Trump has targeted refugees and immigrants, calling them criminals and security threats; emboldened racist politics by equivocating on white nationalism; and consistently championed anti-Muslim ideas and policies.
His administration has embraced policies that will roll back access to reproductive health care for women; championed health insurance changes that would leave many more Americans without access to affordable health care; and undermined police accountability for abuse.
Trump has also expressed disdain for independent media and for federal courts that have blocked some of his actions. And he has repeatedly coddled autocratic leaders and showed little interest or leadership in pressing for the respect of human rights abroad.
The individuals most likely to suffer abuse in the United States — including members of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, children, the poor, and prisoners — are often least able to defend their rights in court or via the political process.
Many vulnerable groups endured renewed attacks on their rights during the year.
Other longstanding US laws and practices — particularly related to criminal and juvenile justice, immigration and national security — continued to violate internationally recognised human rights.”
On April 24, the Information Office of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, released a report titled ‘Human Rights Record of the United States in 2017.’
This was in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017 issued by the US State Department on April 20. The Chinese report did not say anything new pertaining to the vast inequalities and abuses in the US.
The report highlighted that: “The existing problems of racial discrimination in the United States have not been eased, but racial relations continue to worsen. Social antagonism has been intensified and racial conflicts frequently occurred. Systematic racial discrimination exists in law enforcement and judicial organs… a report of the US Sentencing Commission released in November said that black male offenders received sentences on average of 19,1 percent longer than those of ‘similarly situated’ white male offenders.”
According to the study from the National Registry of Exonerations released on March 7 2017 and examined cases from 1989 to October 2016: “African-Americans are far more likely to be wrongfully convicted of crimes such as murder, sexual assault and illegal drug activity than white people. Of the 1 900 defendants convicted of crimes and later exonerated, 47 percent were African-Americans three times their representation in the population.” (www.aljazeera.com, March 8 2017)
According to a report by the Stanford Open Policing Project released on June 19 2017 based on analysis of more than 60 million police stops in 20 states, black and Latino drivers face a double standard and police require far less suspicion to search them than their white counterparts. Black and Latino drivers are about twice as likely to be searched compared to whites.
After being stopped, black and Latino drivers are ticketed, searched and arrested more often than whites. For example, when pulled over for speeding, black drivers are 20 percent more likely than whites and Latino drivers 30 percent more likely than whites to be ticketed. (www.latimes.com, June 19 2017)
According to statistics by the Mapping Police Violence released on its website on January 1 2018, the US police have killed 1 129 people in 2017, of whom
25 percent were black people, much higher than their population distribution of 13 percent.
According to data released by the Federal Reserve in September last year, between 2013 and 2016, wealth gap between black and white families grew by 16 percent during that time, and by 14 percent between Hispanics and whites.
In 2016, white families had a median net worth of US$171 000, compared with US$17 600 for blacks and US$20 700 for Hispanics, accounting for 10,29 percent and 12,11 percent of that for white families respectively. (www.washingtonpost, September 28 2017).
The report issued by the Economic Policy Institute on February 13 2017 said more than one in four black households have zero or negative networth. (www.epi.org, February 13 2017)
The median income for an African American household was US$39 490 in 2016, according to US Census Bureau data released in September 2017, even US$1 873 less than that in 2000. African Americans are the only racial group the Census Bureau identifies that has been left behind in 2000. (www.latimes.com, September 15 2017)

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