• Jharad McClung Lester

Racial Injustice Isn't America's Biggest Issue

Photo Credit: Jharad Lester, original from Luminate UK

Scary to some, a part of life to others, and unnatural for far too many, death is looming throughout the United States. The death of George Floyd was tragic. The way in which he died was horrific. Floyd was murdered in cold-blood, and both the Minneapolis police department and city government should be ashamed of themselves.

The notion that racial injustice is the most damning problem in America in 2020 is a false one. Contrary to what the elite want us to think, we have an even larger issue at our feet ― one that’s getting worse by the day: the stigma placed upon mental illness.

While the total number of African Americans killed by police officers has stayed relatively stagnant throughout the past few years, suicide and mental illness are becoming more and more widespread. Between 2001 and 2017, suicide rates increased by 31%. In 2017, there were 47,173 suicides, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). What’s more, roughly one in every five adults in the U.S. has been diagnosed with a mental illness.

As many continue to insist that racial injustice is the biggest issue in the U.S., research studies and data suggests otherwise. With a population of roughly 37 million people, 235 African Americans were shot and killed by police in 2019, according to Statista. In 2017, 223 African Americans were fatally shot by police, while 47,173 people committed suicide, according to the NIMH. What’s more, while suicide rates increased by 31% between 2001 and 2017, African Americans shot and killed by police have declined and become relatively stagnant.

Every articulate American understands that racial injustice in the African American community exists. To deny such a thing is ignorant and intellectually dishonest. What America doesn’t understand, however, is the fact that well over 100 Americans commit suicide every day, while millions of other voiceless Americans contemplate doing likewise.

I’ve never experienced racial injustice, but I am empathetic towards those who have. If you don’t understand what it’s like living with a mental illness, reach out to those who do. Injustice must be stopped, but race is not the only issue. When it’s all said and done, our choices as a collective nation will dictate whether or not we grow and prosper, or burn to ashes and die forever.

America’s biggest problem isn’t racial injustice. Contrary to popular belief, which is carried out by the ruling elite, mental illness is the single-most important issue we must first solve.

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